Using herbs and plants for health is still increasingly popular throughout the world and according to the World Health Organisation, 75% of the world’s populations are using herbs/traditional herbal medicine for basic healthcare needs, including stress & anxiety.

With mental health issues now at pandemic proportions, never has there been such a need for solutions and remedies outside of mainstream healthcare to improve peoples mental health status, especially stress & anxiety based symptoms. Anti-depressants are some of the most prescribed drugs globally for these types of symptoms, but for some people these are not the answer and many people want a potential natural solution to treating these types of symptoms. Well natures medicine cabinet can certainly offer a few suggestions here.

Passionflower has been used historically to treat insomnia, hysteria, stress and anxiety based symptoms. There are actually around 500 different species of passion flower, many of which have medicinal properties,  but the species associated with the effects above is Passiflora incarnata. One study showed that the anti-anxiety effects of this passionflower are comparable to those of the drug benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are a class of drug that are commonly prescribed by doctors to alleviate anxiety , but can have unwanted side effects. Although many people don’t realise lavender is a herb, like many other herbs, lavender is actually part of the mint family. It’s been used for centuries for its calming effects and can be really helping for its beneficial effects in promoting sleep and reducing insomnia. It perhaps is no surprise then that it can be helpful in reducing stress & anxiety and promoting calm at times of stress.

Lavender essential oil has been shown to contain chemicals called terpenes and two of these terpenes called linalool and linalyl acetate have been shown to to have a calming and anti-anxiety effect when inhaled.  So if you haven’t already got one, an oil burner in the home is essential when it comes to maximising the essential oils found in nature.

Gingko Biloba is one of the oldest species of tree in the world and also happens to be one of the most popular herbal remedies sold. It contains a range of active ingredients including terponoids, flavonoids and antioxidants, all of which have a positive effect on mental health.  It has shown to have anti-anxiety action and mild anti-depressive effects. If your stress is causing you brain fog and memory problems too, then good news there as this herb has shown to be very helpful in improving memory too (even in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease).

Now Skullcap is another herb  that can be very beneficial for its effects on alleviating stress & anxiety symptoms, so don’t be put off by its name. Despite its scary sounding name, Skullcap is actually a pretty dainty flower with tubular shaped flowers, native to North America. This herb has actually been used for over 200 years to for its anti-anxiety effects and its ability to aid relaxation and reduce nervous tension.

Although more research is needed, some research suggests that Skullcap has these anti-anxiety and calming effects by stimulating a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger in the body) called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which when released induces a calming effect which reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. Many pharmaceutical anti-anxiety drugs work in a similar way to this by promoting GABA release.

If you live in countries where the above herbs are native then get your foraging basket out and collect these herbs to make a calming tea, which is sure to promote that anti-stress effect and reduce anxiety. In the case of lavender, then burning the oil or adding to clothes or body creams  may be helpful at times of stress & anxiety. You can also look at buying a supplement, which many people find easiest and also ensures you get the active dose that is needed to elicit the best effect.



Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam, 2013. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics

Ginkgo biloba as an Alternative Medicine in the Treatment of Anxiety in Dementia and other Psychiatric Disorders, 2017 Current Drug Metabolism
Ginkgo biloba; an effective medicinal plant on neurological disorders, 2016. Journal of Preventive Epidemiology

Phytochemical and biological analysis of Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L.): A medicinal plant with anxiolytic properties, 2013. Phytomedicine

American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): an ancient remedy for today’s anxiety?, 2013. British Journal of Wellbeing

Effects of lavender on anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis, 2019. Phytomedicine

Could herbal medicine alternatives reduce overuse of benzodiazepines in older adults? Thoughts on the EMPOWER trial, 2015.

Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine.
Biphasic effects of baicalin an active constituent of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi in the spontaneous sleep-wake regulation, 2011. Journal of Ethnopharmacology