5 Calming Herbs for Anxiety Relief Without Side Effects

In our modern, fast-paced world, anxiety is an increasingly common companion for many people. While there are numerous ways to manage this condition, including therapy and pharmaceutical medications, natural remedies, particularly calming herbs, offer a gentler alternative. These herbs can help soothe the mind, reduce symptoms of anxiety, and do so generally without the harsh side effects associated with some medications. This article explores five calming herbs that have been both traditionally and scientifically recognized for their effectiveness in providing anxiety relief.

1. Lavender: The Soother

Lavender is perhaps the most famous of all calming herbs, renowned for its delightful fragrance and its ability to relax the mind, ease anxiety, and promote better sleep. Its primary active ingredient, linalool, acts directly on the brain to alleviate nervous tension and enhance mood.

  • Scientific Backing: Numerous studies have validated the anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects of lavender. One significant study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that lavender oil could be as effective as the pharmaceutical sedative diazepam in treating generalized anxiety disorder.
  • How to Use: Lavender can be used in several forms. Aromatherapy with lavender essential oil is popular; simply diffusing the oil can help calm anxious feelings. Alternatively, drinking lavender-infused tea or taking supplements like Silexan (a patented lavender oil preparation) can also provide benefits.

2. Chamomile: The Gentle Relaxant

Chamomile is another well-loved herb known for its mild sedative effects, which make it excellent for combating anxiety and promoting relaxation. The main compounds in chamomile, such as apigenin, bind to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, which play a role in reducing anxiety.

  • Scientific Backing: Research, including a study from the University of Pennsylvania, supports chamomile’s efficacy in reducing symptoms of anxiety. The study observed significant reductions in anxiety symptoms among participants who consumed chamomile extract.
  • How to Use: Chamomile is most commonly consumed as tea, a gentle way to introduce this herb into your daily routine. Chamomile extracts and capsules are also available for those preferring a more concentrated form.

3. Passionflower: The Tranquilizer

Passionflower is another potent herb with a long history of use in traditional medicine for treating insomnia and anxiety. It increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and calm the nervous system.

  • Scientific Backing: Clinical trials have shown that passionflower can be as effective as some synthetic drugs for treating anxiety. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research demonstrated that passionflower decreased anxiety in patients undergoing surgery, performing as well as the pharmaceutical oxazepam.
  • How to Use: Passionflower can be taken as tea, tinctures, or capsules. It is particularly effective when used before bedtime to enhance quality of sleep alongside reducing anxiety.

4. Ashwagandha: The Stress Reducer

Ashwagandha, a cornerstone herb in Ayurvedic medicine, is known for its adaptogenic properties, helping the body manage stress and maintain equilibrium. It’s particularly helpful in reducing chronic stress and anxiety by modulating the stress response.

  • Scientific Backing: Studies, including a randomized controlled trial published in the journal PLoS One, have found that ashwagandha significantly reduces stress and anxiety levels in adults.
  • How to Use: Ashwagandha is available in powder form, which can be mixed into beverages or smoothies, as well as in capsules and tablets for ease of use.

5. Lemon Balm: The Mood Enhancer

Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, has been used since the Middle Ages for its calming effects. It acts as a mild sedative and mood enhancer and is particularly effective in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

  • Scientific Backing: Research, including a study from Northumbria University, has shown that lemon balm can help improve mood and reduce anxiety, with subjects reporting a significant increase in calmness and reduced alertness when taking lemon balm extracts.
  • How to Use: Lemon balm can be consumed as tea, which offers a soothing ritual. It’s also available in capsules and tinctures for more direct dosage.

Integrating Calming Herbs into Your Lifestyle

To effectively incorporate these herbs into your life, consider the following tips:

  • Consistency is Key: Regular use of these herbs increases their effectiveness. Establishing a routine can help maintain a consistent intake.
  • Lifestyle Integration: Combine herbal remedies with other anxiety-reducing practices like yoga, meditation, or regular exercise to enhance overall well-being.
  • Consultation with Professionals: Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have existing health conditions or are taking other medications.


Turning to nature’s pharmacy can provide powerful tools for managing anxiety. Whether through the soothing aroma of lavender, the gentle caress of chamomile, or the profound calm brought on by passionflower, these herbs offer a natural, effective way to enhance your mental health and improve your quality of life. By embracing these herbal solutions, you can harness their calming powers and make strides toward a more relaxed and peaceful existence.