Natural Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
Tantrums. Meltdowns. Agitation. Crying. Behaviors that on the surface may make it seem as if your child just isn't listening to you could actually be symptoms of anxiety. A child suffering from anxiety may be prescribed prescription medication at the first sign, which can be helpful for many kids. However, these drugs often come with a variety of harmful side effects like drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, dry mouth, and nausea.1 This is why at Brillia, though we recognize the value in prescription medication, we prefer to see them as a last resort. We recommend considering gentle options first, such as homeopathic medication, and healthy lifestyle changes h to see if you can get the relief and support your child needs before resorting to prescription drugs. This may also include taking herbal remedies, implementing certain lifestyle changes, or ensuring their diet contains the vitamins and minerals they need. Read on to find out more about how to implement child anxiety treatment at home and which herbal remedies can help your child or teen.
Are Herbal Remedies Good for Anxiety in Children?
While research is still emerging on the efficacy of herbal remedies for anxiety, there are several studies that show promise. For instance, one German study examined the combination of St. John’s Wort herb, valerian root, and passionflower herb in pediatric subjects. At the end of a treatment period of almost two years, 81.6-93.9 percent of subjects had mild or no symptoms of nervous agitation or anxiety and experienced no serious side effects.2
While the mechanism of action for each herbal remedy differs, researchers have found a connection between certain herbs and the neurotransmitters in our brain that contribute to mood. Ginseng and ginkgo biloba have been shown to influence dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which are the same neurotransmitters impacted by prescription anti-anxiety medications. And L-theanine, found in green tea, has been shown to influence GABA, which is a target of many benzodiazepines.3
The safety profile of herbs is generally positive, but you should always check in with your doctor if you are unsure about giving herbal remedies to your child, especially if they are already taking medication or have a medical condition.
Below are some top choices for herbs that can help reduce anxiety in children.
Best Herbal Remedies For Children Ages 5-7
While herbs are generally safe for all ages, the research shows that these remedies are most beneficial for younger children up to seven years old.
One of the safest and gentlest essential oils, lavender is familiar to most of us as one of the most common herbs used in the bath and body world for relaxation. Lavender reduces anxiety in children by calming the nervous system. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, lavender is one of four aromatherapy oils that have been determined to be both safe and effective for use with children over age five (in addition to peppermint, orange and ginger).4 If your child wants to meditate — which we believe is the second pillar of stronger focus — but has a difficult time with the relaxation required, lavender may improve their ability to find that flow state. It has also been shown to reduce anxiety in hospital patients.5
If chamomile worked wonders for Peter Rabbit, it will likely be just as beneficial for your young child. Historically, chamomile has been used to treat an array of ailments in children, ranging from fevers to croup. It can also alleviate anxiety and is useful for inducing sleep — what we consider the third pillar for stronger focus in children. According to Dr. Michelle Haff, a Naturopathic Doctor at Lilac Natural Medicine in Manchester, New Hampshire, Chamomile interacts with the GABA-system and decreases the stress hormone cortisol.6 It can ease an upset stomach or diarrhea triggered by nervousness, reduce stress headaches, and help children calm down for bedtime. Conveniently, the taste of chamomile tea is quite pleasant. You can even keep it in the fridge as an iced tea, if your child prefers cold beverages.
3. Lemon Balm
This herb packs quite a punch in terms of its varied benefits: lemon balm has been shown to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, improve mood, and increase cognitive performance.7 This ability to improve both attention disorder symptoms and anxiety in one herb makes lemon balm a powerful tool. It smells and tastes similar to lemon, making it easy to incorporate into drinks or even desserts. Lemon balm has been deemed safe even for young children and is considered a “must have” for kids by naturopath doctor Maggie Luther.8
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Best Herbal remedies for Pre-Teens & Teenagers
With hormonal changes and social pressures, adolescence can be a turbulent time for kids, ushering in new and more complex anxieties. If you’re curious about natural anxiety medication for teenagers, try these herbs, which include St. John’s wort, passionflower, and valerian.
4. St. John’s Wort
Long known for being a mood booster, St. John's wort has been shown to reduce both anxiety and attention disorder symptoms in children up to 12 years old when combined with passionflower and valerian root.9 It can also be used for depression in adolescents, which is often present when other mental health issues are at play.10 If your child is taking any prescription medications, be sure to ask your doctor about possible interactions with this herb.
Note: Brillia does not have interactions with this herb. Please check for interactions with other prescription medications your child may be taking.
Unlike St. John's wort, which does not work well alone against attention disorders in children, passionflower does hold up in studies on reducing attention disorder symptoms in kids up to 13 years old as well as anxiety.11 Even more, passionflower does not have the stimulant properties of attention disorder medications or the drowsiness-inducing properties of anxiety medication, so you don't need to worry about it keeping your child up at night or making them sleep through the day. Like lavender, passionflower has also been reported to ease anxiety in hospital patients about to undergo surgery.12
Valerian root is taken most frequently for sleep and has proved effective at improving sleep in children as well as adults.13 Adequate sleep is important for attention span and a good mindset. Because valerian root has a somewhat sedating effect, if your child is anxious it can calm him or her down and make them more able to relax. Valerian is not recommended for very young children.14
At Brillia, we advocate for a holistic approach in managing anxiety, stress, irritability, and other undesirable symptoms. While herbal remedies can be helpful in promoting a balanced mood, they are just one piece of the puzzle. Holistic medicine takes a broader view of your child’s anxiety to devise various strategies that will positively impact their mental health, physical health, and emotional health for long-term success. This may include herbal remedies in addition to homeopathic medication, vitamins and minerals, and healthy lifestyle adjustments.
Combining herbal remedies with non-prescription homeopathic medications like Brillia offers a multi-pronged, holistic approach to reducing anxiety in children. With a unique targeted ingredient composed of antibodies to the brain-specific S100B protein, which is an important regulator of various different intracellular and extracellular brain processes, Brillia eases feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and irritability while improving attention and focus. By stabilizing the S100B protein, Brillia gently and impactfully normalizes the levels of other monoamines in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This promotes a balanced mood without causing nausea, headaches, drowsiness, affecting the appetite, or masking your child’s personality. Brillia also does not cause any harmful interactions with other medications or supplements. Even more, Brillia works best when combined with healthy lifestyle choices as outlined in our 5-Pillar methodology. These include healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness techniques, which can all make a dramatic difference in easing your child’s anxiety and setting them up with emotional regulation tools they can use throughout their lives.
By enhancing cognitive function and modulating the activity of the HPA axis, magnesium can be an effective antidote to stress and anxiety. A review of 18 different studies found that magnesium reduces various types of anxiety, including anxiety during premenstrual syndrome, which can be especially helpful if you’re looking for natural remedies for anxiety in teenage girls struggling with hormonal changes. Magnesium can also help reduce symptoms associated with generalized anxiety.15 However, despite its general safety, excessive magnesium intake can lead to potential side effects or interactions with concurrent medications. You should always ask your doctor first before giving magnesium to your child or teen.
9. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in fatty fish, eggs, and flaxseed, omega-3 fatty acids have been clinically proven to reduce anxiety when delivered in high doses.16 Though more research is needed to determine how omega-3s reduce anxiety, experts think it has something to do with controlling neurobiological processes, such as neurotransmitter systems, neuroplasticity, and inflammation.17
10. B Vitamin Complex
Eating a well-rounded diet that includes folic acid, niacin, and other B vitamins, can give your child suitable protection against anxiety symptoms. Studies show that vitamins B6 and B12 reduce “neural excitation” while vitamin B1 can help support a healthy nervous system.18 And vitamins B6, B9, and B12 can impact the levels of brain chemicals that affect mood, such as serotonin and norepinephrine.19 Foods that can help your child benefit from the B vitamin complex include milk, cheese, eggs, chicken, fish, dark green vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts.
Additional Non-Clinical Options
Continuing on with the idea of addressing your child’s anxiety with a holistic approach, there are a number of non-clinical options you can use in tandem to herbal remedies, homeopathic medications, and vitamin supplements.
Aromatherapy refers to the inhalation of essential oils from plants to promote psychological well-being. It has been practiced for centuries, and for good reason. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), aromatherapy works because it activates specific smell receptors in the nose, which trigger the brain to send messages to areas of the nervous system that affect mood.20 In addition to lavender, which we mentioned above, the essential oils deemed to be both safe and effective for use with children over age five include peppermint, orange, and ginger. It’s important that your child enjoys the scent, which they can use via an oil diffuser or personal inhaler.
As mentioned above, mindfulness techniques like meditation are part of Brillia’s holistic approach. This is because meditation, which can be practiced by people of all ages, changes the brain’s response to anxiety and stress. It’s so effective that some studies have found meditation to be just as impactful as prescription anti-anxiety medication without the side effects associated with such medications. It can also relieve physical ailments that are exacerbated by stress and anxiety, such as poor sleep and tension headaches. To get your child started, check out our guide to introducing mindfulness to kids or watch a calming guided meditation video together.
When beginning any new regime with your child, start slowly: this is a journey, not a race, so there is no need to try multiple new herbs at once or overhaul your entire routine. You'll be best able to track your child's reaction to each by introducing one herb at a time, and administering it for several days before trying a different one. Combined with a holistic approach like Brillia, your child's anxiety may become more manageable sooner than you'd think.
- Implementing herbs into your child’s routine can help reduce anxiety safely and effectively
- Herbal remedies have little to no side effects and offer natural anxiety relief for kids
- Lavender calms the nervous system, being incredibly anxiety-reducing
- St. John's Wort is a mood booster, decreasing symptoms of anxiety, attention deficiency, and depression in children
- Chamomile is great for reducing anxiety and inducing sleep
- Passionflower alone helps with attention disorders in children while also reducing anxiety
- Valerian root improves sleep for both adults and children
- Lemon balm relieves stress, reduces anxiety, improves mood, and increases cognitive performance
- Combining the herbs with Brillia, aromatherapy, vitamins and minerals, and meditation can help you address your child's anxiety holistically for long-term success
Find more resources on managing your child’s anxiety at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.
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