Mind & Body

Ease Your Anxiety

Seven herbs and supplements to calm a worried mind.
Ease Your Anxiety
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PASSIONFLOWER In a double-blind study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, giving patients with generalized anxiety disorder 45 drops per day of passionflower (aka Passiflora incarnata) tincture was effective in reducing symptoms without impairing job performance (unlike the anti-anxiety drug Serax, also part of the study). Generally considered very safe for relieving stress, anxiety and insomnia, passionflower can cause drowsiness when combined with antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, says Wong. Dosage: 40 drops of tincture up to five times a day, or 400 milligrams divided over the day. Try: NOW Foods Passion Flower Extract ($8 for 90 Vcaps; allstarhealth.com)

RELORA This patented formula combines extracts from magnolia bark (Magnolia officinalis) and the amur corktree (Phellodendron amurense), both used in traditional Chinese medicine. “Magnolia bark contains two compounds, magnolol and honokiol, which are believed to be responsible for the stress-reducing effects,” says Wong. If you’re pregnant, nursing or taking prescription drugs, consult your doctor before using Relora. Dosage: 250 milligrams two to three times a day, taken with food. Try: Nature’s Answer Relora ($11 for 60 capsules; allstarhealth.com)

RESCUE REMEDY British physician Edward Bach designed this formula to be used in times of acute emotional stress. It blends five flower essences: star of Bethlehem (for shock), clematis (for inattentiveness), impatiens (for irritation and impatience), cherry plum (for irrational thoughts) and rock rose (for panic). One of the strengths of Rescue Remedy is that it doesn’t interact with conventional medications, says Wong. Dosage: Four drops four times a day, or two quick sprays, as needed. Try: Bach Flower Remedies Rescue Remedy Natural Stress Relief ($11 for .7 fluid ounces; rescueremedy.com)

VALERIAN The mild sedative qualities of Valeriana officinalis come from its roots and rhizomes. Effective for insomnia, it’s also used for anxiety, mental strain, agitation, muscle spasms, stress and stress-related headaches, and muscle tension. A study in Phytotherapy Research found that valerian was as effective as Valium in reducing anxiety. The use of fresh valerian has little, if any, side effects, though Wong cautions that taking the dried herb for more than three months may result in headaches and restlessness. Avoid the herb entirely if you have liver disease or if you’re taking any drug that depresses the central nervous system, including alcohol. Dosage: As much as 40 drops of tincture up to five times a day, or a 300 to 400 milligrams capsule twice a day. Try: Nature’s Way Valerian Root ($6 for 100 Vcaps, drugstore.com)