There are many herbs reported to treat anxiety, but not all are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. If you plan to add herbs to your daily routine, consult your physician first, especially if you are currently on any medication, because herbs are powerful substances and can alter the effects of prescription drugs. When choosing one of the herbs listed, always follow the dosage instructions on the label.
Passion flower is an herb that is also known by the name Passiflora incarnata, and while it may not be native to China, today it is often used in Chinese herbal medicine. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that it has been used for years to treat anxiety and depression, and it is thought to work by raising levels of "GABA" (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a chemical in the brain, which results in reduced anxiety and increased relaxation. There is another trait about passion flower that makes it a relaxing herb of choice for some, and that is that while it reduces anxiety, it does not cause the user to feel "sedated." A study reported in the June 2008 issue of "Anesthesia and Analgesia" found that when surgical outpatients were given passion flower, they showed decreased anxiety but had full capacity of their motor skills. Researchers go on to recommend passion flower as a "pre-medication" treatment. Passion flower is available as a supplement in the form of a liquid tincture or a tea.
Asian ginseng has long been used to treat stress and anxiety. Ginseng contains compounds called saponins, and these compounds are thought to give ginseng its anti-anxiety effect. A study published by the National Institutes of Health reports that "sun," or white ginseng, shows greater anxiety-lowering potential than red ginseng. The researchers conclude that ginseng could be used as an effective anxiety treatment. Ginseng is available as an herbal supplement in the form of capsules or liquid.
Rhodiola rosea, also known as "Tibetan ginseng," is an herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as other traditional herbal medicine practices. It is considered an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps the body adapt to stressful situations, whether it is physical stress or psychological stress. Anxiety disorders are a result of stress, and rhodiola rosea is found to be effective in relieving stress, and therefore anxiety. A study reported in the March 2008 issue of the "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" found that supplementing with rhodiola in the amount of 340 mg daily for 10 weeks relieved symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Rhodiola is also used as a treatment for stress-induced anorexia. The September 2007 issue of the "Journal of Psychopharmacology" reports on a study in which rats were placed under physical and psychological stress, and they developed stress induced anorexia. After treatment with rhodiola rosea, stress levels were reduced and eating resumed. Rhodiola rosea is available as a supplement in capsule form.
Dong quai is known scientifically as Angelica sinensis. It has long been used in herbal medicine to treat menopausal symptoms. When it comes to treating anxiety, dong quai has shown positive results. The National Institutes of Health reports that when dong quai was put to the test against Valium, the leading prescription drug for anxiety treatment, it was shown to be just as effective. Dong quai is available as a supplement in capsule or liquid form.