Herbs Used to Treat Stress and Anxiety



  • Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza Glabra): Licorice root contains many anti-depressant compounds and has many health benefits such as: boosts the immune system by increasing levels of interferon; a chemical in the immune system that fights viruses, relieves pain and stress by preventing the breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol (primary stress-fighting hormone), and combats hay fever due to being an anti-allergenic. It is also used for ulcers, indigestion, heartburn, respiratory problems, chronic fatigue symptoms and fibromyalgia, hepatitis, PMS, and heart disease.



  • Passionflower: Passionflower is considered a mild sedative and is used to treat stress, anxiety, and depression amongst other things. This is due to the increased presence of the chemical, gamma aminobutyric acid, in the brain, which is known to lower the activity of certain brain cells. It is also used for insomnia, relieving drug withdrawal symptoms, seizures, and gastrointestinal problems. Caution: do not use when pregnant or breast feeding. Not recommended for children.


  • Kava kava (from the plant Piper methysticum): Kava kava is used to treat insomnia, anxiety, depression, and stress. Caution: can produce side effects similar to being drunk such as: staggering, and an inability to talk properly. Prolonged use of Kava kava can cause malnutrition, and weight loss. Do not take with alcohol or drugs. Do not use if you are: pregnant, breast feeding, a child, using heavy machinery, have existing heart or liver problems, are taking any other therapeutic drugs.



  • St John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum): This herb has been used since the renaissance as an antidepressant. It is effective in treating other mental and sleeping disorders. This herb treats depression by preventing nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, or by reducing levels of protein in the immune system. In studies St John’s Wort is hardly ever less effective than any over the counter prescription medications. Some side effects include: dry mouth, dizziness, increased sensitivity to sunlight, gastrointestinal distress, and fatigue. Caution: do not use this herb with other drugs, alcohol, or other therapeutic drugs/herbs. Do not give to children or use when pregnant or breast feeding.


  • Lavender: This herb is effective at reducing irritability, anxiety, depression, and stress, while also aiding with sleep. It is an extremely good anti-bacterial, and helps boost the immune system and can balance hormones. It is also used to alleviate headaches and migraines.



  • Tulsi or Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum): Holy basil is a powerful antioxidant. It also has strong antibacterial, antifungal, and anti inflammatory properties. This herb is used to treat anxiety and stress due to its ability to decrease the body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It is also an adaptogen, which means it will not alter mood, but rather helps the body function optimally during times of stress. Holy basil is also used to treat: the common cold, flu, asthma, bronchitis, headaches, stomach upsets, fever, heart disease, and tuberculosis. Studies suggest it may also be effective in treating certain types of cancer.


  • Valerian Root: This herb is used mainly to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia (as it is a sedative), but has also been effective in treating anxiety, stress, depression, ADD, hysteria, chronic fatigue, epilepsy, IBS, and menopause. Warning: do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not give to children without seeking medical advice.



  • Chamomile: Chamomile is mainly used to treat insomnia and stress/anxiety. It is also used to treat fevers, colds, stomach issues, rheumatic problems, asthma, relieves restlessness and colic in children, allergies, IBS, skin problems, wounds. It is not recommended for use by children or pregnant women.


  • Ginseng: Ginseng is used to treat stress, diabetes and erectile dysfunction in men. I t also has anti inflammatory properties and is also good at lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Some studies also suggest it reduces the risk of cancer. Do not take ginseng along with certain antidepressants or heart medications, or take while pregnant or breast feeding. Not recommended for children.