Natural Remedies for Anxiety: What Works and Why

Anxiety, a common mental health issue, affects millions of people worldwide. While conventional treatments like therapy and medication are effective, many individuals seek natural remedies to alleviate their symptoms. Natural remedies offer a holistic approach, often with fewer side effects. Here’s a look at some of the most effective natural remedies for anxiety, how they work, and why they might be worth trying.

1. Herbal Supplements

a. Ashwagandha

How It Works: Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and promotes balance. It reduces cortisol levels, the stress hormone, which can alleviate anxiety symptoms. Why It Works: By modulating the body’s stress response, Ashwagandha helps reduce feelings of anxiety and promotes a sense of calm. Recommendation: Take 300-500 mg of standardized extract daily, but consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

b. Valerian Root

How It Works: Valerian root contains compounds like valerenic acid, which increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation. Why It Works: By enhancing GABA activity, Valerian root can help calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety. Recommendation: Take 400-900 mg of valerian root extract 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime for its calming effects.

c. Passionflower

How It Works: Passionflower increases GABA levels in the brain, which helps regulate mood and reduce anxiety. Why It Works: It has a calming effect on the nervous system without causing drowsiness, making it an excellent option for daytime use. Recommendation: Use 250-500 mg of passionflower extract or drink a cup of passionflower tea up to three times daily.

2. Aromatherapy

a. Lavender Oil

How It Works: The scent of lavender oil has been shown to reduce anxiety by affecting the limbic system, the brain’s emotional center. Why It Works: Inhaling lavender oil can decrease heart rate and blood pressure, leading to a feeling of relaxation. Recommendation: Use a diffuser with a few drops of lavender oil or apply diluted oil to your wrists or temples.

b. Chamomile Oil

How It Works: Chamomile oil contains compounds like apigenin, which binds to receptors in the brain that help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Why It Works: Its calming effects are well-documented, making it a popular choice for reducing anxiety and promoting sleep. Recommendation: Add a few drops of chamomile oil to your bath or use in a diffuser to enjoy its calming effects.

3. Dietary Adjustments

a. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

How It Works: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts, can reduce inflammation and support brain health. Why It Works: Studies suggest that omega-3s can reduce symptoms of anxiety by modulating neurotransmitter pathways. Recommendation: Consume fatty fish like salmon or take a high-quality omega-3 supplement daily.

b. Probiotics

How It Works: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support gut health, which is closely linked to mental health. Why It Works: A healthy gut microbiome can reduce inflammation and produce neurotransmitters that influence mood and anxiety levels. Recommendation: Include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut in your diet or take a daily probiotic supplement.

4. Mind-Body Practices

a. Yoga

How It Works: Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Why It Works: Regular practice can decrease cortisol levels and increase GABA activity, which helps alleviate anxiety. Recommendation: Practice yoga for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, to experience its anxiety-reducing benefits.

b. Mindfulness Meditation

How It Works: Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Why It Works: This practice can help reduce rumination and improve emotional regulation, which are key factors in managing anxiety. Recommendation: Start with 10-15 minutes of mindfulness meditation daily, gradually increasing the duration as you become more comfortable.

5. Lifestyle Changes

a. Regular Exercise

How It Works: Physical activity increases the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. Why It Works: Exercise can reduce stress hormones like cortisol and increase overall feelings of well-being. Recommendation: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, most days of the week.

b. Adequate Sleep

How It Works: Sleep is crucial for emotional regulation and cognitive function. Why It Works: Lack of sleep can increase anxiety and stress levels, while adequate rest helps the body and mind recover and cope better with daily stressors. Recommendation: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine.


Natural remedies offer a holistic approach to managing anxiety, often with fewer side effects than conventional treatments. Herbal supplements like Ashwagandha, Valerian root, and Passionflower, along with practices like aromatherapy, dietary adjustments, and mind-body exercises, can effectively reduce anxiety and promote overall well-being. As with any treatment, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting new supplements or significantly altering your lifestyle. By integrating these natural remedies into your daily routine, you can take proactive steps toward managing anxiety and improving your quality of life.