Anxiety disorders affect over 40 million adults and are the most common mental illness in the United States. Pressures from the modern workforce and family life certainly don’t help the dilemma, but a healing herb called echinacea could.
As a member of the daisy family, this herbaceous flowering plant is commonly taken to combat the common cold and flu. In their studies on the healing properties of echinacea, researchers found that echinacea can also be an effective natural remedy for anxiety.
For many, anxiety disorders are a serious illness that interrupts daily tasks and makes everyday life a challenge. The idea that echinacea could alleviate many of the symptoms associated with anxiety is a game-changer and definitely gives hope to those suffering from this mental illness.
What Is Echinacea?
Also known as the American coneflower, echinacea is a perennial plant known for its immune-boosting properties that help fight symptoms of cold, infection, and flu. The plant’s petals look similar to a daisy’s, though they’re typically pink or purple. In the center of the flower lies a spiky, cone-shaped seed head, which is where the flower gets it’s “coneflower” name from.
As a natural remedy, echinacea is typically sold over the counter in the form of capsules, teas, liquid extracts, or as a dried herb. It’s sold in a variety of shops, from pharmacies and health stores to the common supermarket.
Echinacea Benefits for Anxiety
If it weren’t for a group of researchers at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, echinacea might have been ignored as a remedy for anxiety. The researchers that made the discovery were studying different species of echinacea and found that some of the plants contained cannabinoids, which are compounds that affect brain chemistry.
Upon further study, they found that low doses of the species E angustifolia had the same effect on anxiety as prescription anxiolytic drugs (drugs that reduce anxiety). Moreover, not only did the herb provide the benefits of anxiety reduction, it does so without causing any of the drowsiness or other adverse effects that prescription drugs typically do.
The volunteers who took part in the study experienced dramatic improvement after just one day of taking the herb, and a 25% reduction in anxiety by the seventh day. The results of the study are exciting for both doctors and patients looking for natural alternatives to anxiolytic drugs, which can sometimes do more harm than good.
Using Echinacea for Anxiety
While higher doses of echinacea may be recommended for alleviating cold and flu symptoms, researchers have found that the same dosage does not offer remedial benefits for anxiety. In fact, researchers have found that low doses of echinacea seem to work best for anxiety, otherwise, the herb becomes ineffective for anxiety at a higher dosage.
For regular anxiety sufferers, physicians typically recommend about 20 mg of echinacea taken throughout the day, while those who typically only suffer anxiety before a big presentation or a flight, for example, take a dose before the anxiety-inducing event.
Because echinacea is an alternative remedy that is still being studied, however, it’s important that you consult with your physician before using this herb for any anxiety symptoms you may be suffering from. Only a qualified physician can prescribe the proper dosage for you after assessing your individual needs and figuring out whether this natural remedy is safe for you.
All content shared here is strictly informational and is not meant to be used as medical advice.
Andrews, R. (n.d.). An Unexpected Herbal Treatment for Anxiety. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from http://ndnr.com/botanical-medicine/an-unexpected-herbal-treatment-for-anxiety-2/
Nordqvist, C. (2017, December 19). Echinacea: Benefits, uses, side effects, and effectiveness. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252684.php