Traditional Chinese medicine has evolved over the past 5,000 years into a widespread belief with a large following. These practices call on the forces of one’s body, mind, and natural surroundings to improve mental and spiritual health. Core components include acupuncture, tai chi, and consuming herbal products to improve health and wellbeing. And, as modern medicine and clinical trials have evolved, we’ve been able to prove that many of these approaches are beneficial– especially tai chi and acupuncture.
Unfortunately, as science has turned its attention to Chinese herbs, the results have been far more mixed. In part, this is because many Chinese herbal products are contaminated with drugs, heavy metals, bacteria, and even animal matter. As such, purchasing Chinese medicine online constitutes taking a gamble with your health.
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that there is no merit in alternative medicines. While consuming Chinese herbal products may be unsafe, studies have shown that many of the individual herbs that make up said products have positive health implications. To that end, we thought we’d explore the science surrounding five popular Chinese herbs for anxiety-reducing effects.
Chinese Herbs for Anxiety: Which Ones are Legit?
People have used herbal remedies, including Chinese herbs, for anxiety for thousands of years. While modern science views them as complementary to treatment and prescription drugs, some individuals prefer to stick with natural medicine.
There are literally dozens of herbs that have been used for anxiety throughout history, and many more that have been claimed to help other disorders. However, thus far, science has only supported a handful as medicinally useful. Five of the most prominent of these include:
- Valerian root
- Lemon balm
Let’s take a closer look at each of these herbs below.
Chinese hawthorn, such as hawthorn berries or hawthorn root, is an ingredient that has cropped up in both traditional and modern medical practices. Today, it’s often suggested as a treatment for high blood pressure. In fact, several animal and human studies have shown that hawthorn has vasodilation properties, meaning that it can cause your blood vessels to widen. Furthermore, various studies have shown hawthorn may potentially help with:
- High blood fat levels
- Hair loss
- Heart failure (when used alongside traditional medications)
However, when it comes to anxiety, the science is inconclusive on hawthorn’s role. For instance, we know that hawthorn can produce a mild sedative effect. But whether this translates to less anxiety is difficult to determine. One of the more pointed studies on the subject looked at the effect of hawthorn, magnesium, and California poppy flower on anxiety. This study found a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms in the experimental group. Unfortunately, since three herbs were given at once, the extent to which hawthorn helped anxiety was unclear.
Valerian root is known by many names, but one of the most illustrative is “nature’s Valium.” While this drug isn’t as strong as its pharmaceutical counterpart, it has been used to calm nerves and induce sleep for at least 2,000 years. This plant is packed with acids, antioxidants, and compounds that cause cascades of calming reactions in the body. As such, preliminary studies have suggested that valerian root can:
- Ease anxiety
- Relax individuals in stressful situations
- Help with GAD on a long-term regimen
One theory on why valerian root is an effective Chinese herb for anxiety is that it interacts with GABA. This is an acid that acts as a chemical messenger in the body to regulate nerve impulses. Low levels of GABA have been linked to chronic stress, anxiety, and poor sleep. In turn, this increases feelings of calmness, which can then decrease anxiety.
However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, or NCCIH, states that further research is needed to back up these claims.
Lemon balm is another Chinese herb for anxiety that has roots in improving general mood and cognitive function. It is said to relieve stress, dull alertness, and even help humans fall asleep at night – and that’s not all. While the research is still in its infancy, it’s been suggested that lemon balm may help:
- Relieve indigestion
- Treat nausea
- Ease menstrual cramps
- Minimize headache pain
- Reduce inflammation
Furthermore, it has been shown in some small studies to improve anxiety symptoms. However, more research is needed to back up all of these claims.
Passionflower is another herb with a long history in treating anxiety symptoms. There are over 550 varieties of passionflower around the globe, with the herb making an appearance in modern Chinese medicine. It has also been used both in Peru and Europe for centuries to help with restlessness and agitation. Some studies and species have also shown a propensity to aid with:
- Indigestion and digestion
- Nausea and vomiting
However, here, too, more research is needed in a clinical setting to back up these findings.
Of all the herbs on this list, you’re most likely to have heard of chamomile, as it’s a popular tea in many cultures. This daisy relative comes in two common varieties, each with slightly different chemical composition and appearance: Roman chamomile and German chamomile.
Despite the names, chamomile has been used as a Chinese herb for anxiety for many years. It’s also found in many Greek, Roman, and Egyptian texts dating back centuries. The list of reported uses across these cultures is vast and includes:
- Treating upset stomachs
- Promoting wound healing
- Relieving anxiety, GAD, and even depression
- Easing skin conditions
- Reducing inflammation and swelling
- Promoting sleep
Unlike many of the other Chinese herbs for anxiety on this list, chamomile has a host of scientific data to back up these claims. Though more research will help narrow down the mechanisms, preliminary findings suggest that chamomile is a wonder plant with over half a dozen uses in the medical world.
XanFree’s Formula Uses Many Chinese Herbs for Anxiety
Did you know that XanFree’s formula is built upon a similar basis as many herbal Chinese medicines? In fact, our proprietary blend of herbs, amino acids, and vitamins includes each of the Chinese herbs for anxiety we included on this list. Using science-backed clinical analysis of these ancient medicines, we’ve determined that these five herbs – in addition to many of our other natural ingredients – can help reduce anxiety significantly when taken on a daily regimen.