Herbal Teas for Anxiety
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Nearly 1 in 5 American Adults Has an Anxiety Disorder
In this time of global uncertainty, more and more people are finding themselves increasingly stressed and anxious. If you’re looking for an all-natural, affordable and delicious way to lower your anxiety levels, consider herbal teas. You will be pleasantly surprised at how soothing (and tasty) they can be. And their benefits are backed by science.
While everyone experiences stress and anxiety to an extent, millions of Americans struggle with clinical levels of anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., impacting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
Anxiety disorders stem from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (3.1% of the U.S. population), post-traumatic stress disorder (3.5%), panic disorder (2.7%), social anxiety disorder (6.8%), specific phobias (8.7%), obsessive-compulsive disorder (1%)
“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” ~ Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living
Green tea is well known for its many health benefits, including fat loss, improved brain function and protection against heart disease and certain types of cancer. But did you know that it’s great for reducing stress and anxiety as well?
Green tea has lower levels of caffeine than black tea but higher levels of l-theanine, an amino acid that can reduce anxiety. L-theanine is thought to cross the blood-brain barrier and trigger the release of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain which leads to a relaxed but alert state of mind.
Green tea leaves are harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant and then quickly heated by pan firing or steaming rather than going through the withering and oxidation processes used to make black and oolong teas.
In a 2017 study, researchers discovered that students who drank green tea experienced consistently lower levels of stress than students in the placebo group.
“Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims
After naughty Peter Rabbit barely escaped with his life from Mr. McGregor’s garden, his mother gave him a nice cup of chamomile tea and gently put him to bed. If your nerves feel like you’ve been running from Mr. McGregor’s garden hoe all year, chamomile may also be the tea for you.
In a 2016 study, researchers found that long-term chamomile consumption “significantly” reduces moderate-to-severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, one of the most common anxiety disorders.
Valerian Root Tea
Even though it smells a bit like sweaty socks, valerian root has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, dating all the way to ancient Greece and Rome. Today, the root is sold in tea form or as a supplement. Many people take valerian for anxiety and insomnia. It is believed that valerian root has an impact on the availability of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain.
One small study in 36 patients with generalized anxiety disorder showed that 50 mg of valerian root extract given three times a day for four weeks significantly reduced one measure of anxiety compared to placebo.
Peppermint is one of the most widely consumed single-ingredient herbal teas. Far from the sweaty-sock scent of valerian, just the aroma of peppermint alone can help calm nerves and boost your mood. If you struggle with tummy issues or headaches when you’re stressed, peppermint tea might be a good choice for you. Animal research shows a relaxation effect on gastrointestinal (GI) tissue and analgesic and anesthetic effects in the central and peripheral nervous system. Menthol — the compound in peppermint responsible for its minty taste and aroma — is a known muscle relaxant, helping you relax even when under mental stress.
A tea made from rose petals sounds absolutely dreamy, and according to science, it may even send you into dreamland faster. Iranian research has shown that damask rose tea has hypnotic and analgesic effects. According to the findings, rose tea increased deep sleep and reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep. The scientists found that rose tea works in the nervous system to produce a mild hypnotic effect. According to the authors, “It can be suggested that flavonoids of the R. damascena contribute to the hypnotic effect. This effect has been ascribed to their affinity for the central benzodiazepine receptors.”
Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb that derives from the same family as mint. This tea has a mild, smooth flavor with hints of both lemon and mint. Records of its medicinal use date back over 2000 years, including a recommendation by Paracelsus (1493–1541) that lemon balm would completely revive a man and should be used for “all complaints supposed to proceed from a disordered state of the nervous system.” Research has shown that consuming lemon balm products may help reduce anxiety and improve working memory.
Lavender tea is a soft lilac-colored tea with a flavor similar to rosemary and mint, but this may vary depending upon the region in which it is grown. Lavender is a well-researched herb and has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, lower inflammation and improve insomnia. Similar to other teas in this list, lavender tea appears to affect the GABA receptors.
In a recent Iranian study of 60 elderly patients, lavender tea was shown to improve anxiety and depression. According to the authors, “The results of the present study showed that consumption of lavender herbal tea can reduce depression and anxiety scores and since it is inexpensive and accessible, it is suggested to be used as a complementary treatment in reducing anxiety and depression.”
“Find yourself a cup of tea, the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things.” ~