Natural Remedies for Anxiety


A woman sits with her eyes closed, holding a cup of tea

A woman sits with her eyes closed, holding a cup of tea

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Whether you have occasional moments of anxiousness or a clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to treating anxiety. In addition to the traditional therapy and medication, there are natural anxiety remedies available that may help ease certain symptoms.1

Natural Remedies for Anxiety

From herbal supplements to mindfulness techniques, experts have been researching the role that natural remedies can play in treating anxiety symptoms like tension, worry, and rapid heartbeat.2


Research suggests that regular use of chamomile is helpful for reducing symptoms of moderate-to-severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD may worry about everyday things to the degree that the worry interferes with their daily life. But participants of one study had an improvement in their GAD after taking three 500mg capsules of chamomile extract a day for several months.3

The long-term use of high-dose chamomile oral extract used in the study didn't seem to create safety concerns.3 While more research may be needed to know the exact quantity that is considered safe, it is generally believed that any amount used in tea, as well as any short-term oral supplementation, is safe.4

Negative side effects like nausea and dizziness are not common. But keep in mind that chamomile may interact with blood-thinning medications (warfarin) or drugs used to prevent organ transplant rejection (cyclosporine). Chamomile could also prompt an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to pollens like ragweed.4


Acupuncture is the practice of stimulating specific points on the body, usually by inserting thin needles into the skin. While it is not fully understood how acupuncture works, it has a history of being used to help with pain, headache, and side effects of cancer treatment.5,6 Researchers are looking into what other conditions the practice can benefit, including anxiety.7 

A review of 20 studies showed that acupuncture can reduce anxiety symptoms among those with generalized anxiety disorder. This is especially true in the first six weeks of treatment. During that time, acupuncture can work faster than other treatments, such as anti-anxiety drugs.8 

Since all the studies in the review only included people with generalized anxiety disorder, more research is needed to determine whether acupuncture would be helpful for other anxiety disorders.8 

Another review of studies suggests that acupuncture may ease anxiety symptoms among women receiving treatment for substance abuse as well as among women undergoing in vitro fertilization. While promising, more research is needed to say for certain what the effects would be on these populations.9

In both reviews, acupuncture was deemed safe. The key for safety is going to an experienced, trained practitioner who uses clean needles. If acupuncture is not performed correctly or dirty needles are used, there can be serious side effects.7 


Research has pointed to an improvement in anxiety symptoms after consuming or smelling lavender—especially before surgery and before and after chemotherapy.10,11,12

Keep in mind that consuming lavender in tea or extract form could cause side effects like headache and constipation. It might also increase drowsiness when used with other sedative medications.13

Omega-3 fatty acids

Found in seafood, shellfish, and fish oil supplements, omega-3 fatty acids are needed to build brain cells and help with other basic functions.14,15

The fatty acids might also have a positive impact on anxiety.16 Research reveals that omega-3 supplementation may help significantly reduce and prevent anxiety symptoms.17,18 This is especially true for people who've been diagnosed with a specific disorder.17

Vitamin B

For decades, it's been understood that there's an association between vitamin B12 levels and anxiety symptoms. Newer research further suggests that it is not uncommon for people with anxiety to have low levels of vitamin B12. And so, it is believed that supplementation of vitamin B12 may help reduce or prevent anxiety symptoms.19

Vitamin B6 might ease anxiety as well. High-dose supplementation of the vitamin has been shown to reduce self-reported anxiety.20 More robust research is needed to say for certain, but some studies have also shown that daily intake of vitamin B6 helps reduce a range of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, particularly PMS-related anxiety.21

B vitamins are generally safe to use, but have the potential to interfere with some medications.22 Check with a healthcare professional to be certain before use.21


Exercise is beneficial for overall health, including mental health. The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans even acknowledges that a reduction in anxiety can be a benefit of regular exercise.23

While it’s recommended that people get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, research shows that anxiety can be temporarily reduced immediately after even one exercise session.23 In fact, just a five- to 10-minute session of aerobic exercise—like walking, cycling, or swimming—can begin to provide short-term anxiety symptom relief.24 With continued regular exercise, long-term anxiety symptoms may decrease as well.23

In addition, mindful movement practices, like yoga, are believed to have anti-anxiety effects.25


Meditation is one of many relaxation techniques focused on intentional breathing and the mind-body connection. It's often recommended as an add-on to clinical anxiety treatment plans.26

By producing a deep state of relaxation, studies suggest that meditation may help reduce anxiety symptoms in people with diagnosed anxiety disorders.27,28 There's practically zero risk involved in trying out a meditation session, as long as you're in a safe environment to close your eyes and zone out.


Getting your thoughts out on paper might help your mind work through anxious feelings and relieve related symptoms.

A study found that one month of "positive affect journaling"—writing down positive feelings or emotions—resulted in less anxiety in people who had various medical conditions and experienced heightened anxiety symptoms. Additional research on how different types of journaling could help anxiety is likely needed before it's broadly recommended by experts.29


L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea but that is also available in supplement form.

One review of already-published research concluded that taking 200-400mg of L-theanine supplements a day reduced anxiety levels in people going through stressful situations. However, it is unclear how the effectiveness of L-theanine would change when it is consumed as part of tea.30

Another study found one month's worth of L-theanine supplementation to be a solid natural anxiety remedy in healthy people.31

While these claims about L-theanine are acknowledged in guidance from the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, the organization notes that current evidence on L-theanine's anti-anxiety effects is limited.32


Magnesium is a mineral found in foods like whole grains, leafy greens, and milk.33 It is believed that its role in brain function may have an effect on anxiety.34

One research review found initial evidence suggesting that magnesium supplementation could potentially reduce mild anxiety symptoms, generalized anxiety, and anxiety-related PMS symptoms. However, more studies are needed on the impact magnesium could have on anxiety symptoms more broadly.35

More research is also needed on what form of magnesium is best for anxiety management. Magnesium lactate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium glycinate are all examples of magnesium supplements, but it still needs to be determined which type is most effective for anxiety.36

Lemon balm

Lemon balm, an herb in the mint family, has long been considered to have calming properties.37

While current research is limited, there is some evidence showing its positive impact on anxiety and mood.38 For example, two separate studies found that consuming drinks infused with lemon balm had a positive anti-anxiety effect on people recovering from heart surgery and severe burns.39,40


Experiencing occasional symptoms of anxiety is common. But for the estimated 19% of adults in the US who have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, the symptoms pervade everyday life.41

Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options out there to help in either situation. Several of those options are natural anxiety remedies. While research seems promising, most natural remedies—namely those that are considered complementary and alternative—are not included in treatment guidelines for generalized anxiety disorder.32 So as experts continue to study the safety and efficacy of these approaches, you should check with a healthcare professional before incorporating any new supplements or practices into your routine.

If your anxiety symptoms are affecting your day-to-day life, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for support plus information on local resources and treatment facilities.


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