Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years in all parts of the world for many different ailments as both emergency and tonic medicine. One of the most powerful ways herbal medicine is used is in reducing nervous tension and anxiety, inducing sleep and relaxing frayed nerves.

Several herbal remedies are well researched which means we now know how they work. Let’s take a look at a few herbs that can help us which you can easily source from a herbal practitioner near you:

Kava – Kava root {Piper methysticum} is a Polynesian favourite at ceremonial gatherings as it quickly and efficiently ameliorates social anxiety and relaxes tight muscles. This rapid onset of relaxation occurs within 15 minutes of taking a liquid preparation either in the form of a tincture or in the form of a cold infusion made from the dried roots of Kava. It has along history of use and is a safe herb when used at therapeutic doses. Its effects are thought to be due to the kava lactones. This relaxation effect also induces a sound sleep after taking Kava in the evening. What more could you ask for!  A herbal practitioner can advise you on whether Kava is right for you and what dose to take and when. Kava is safe when used in the correct dosage but as with any herbal remedy too much may cause adverse effects and if you are on any pain or anxiety medication you need to consult with your health practitioner before mixing the two.


Passionflower – Passionflower is a favourite of the western herbal practitioner because of its gentle yet effective treatment in the relief of anxiety and the onset of sleep. This plant contains several alkaloids which act on the nervous system including the GABA receptor which is the neurotransmitter responsible for inducing relaxation and sleep. Yay for Passionflower! Passionflower also has follow on effects in the circulatory system that controls blood pressure and heart palpitations. As with any herb using it as part of a holistic programme for reducing anxiety will give the best results.


Withania/Ashwaganda – This Indian herb has grown in popularity over the past decade as more research is conducted. One of the main ways Withania somnifera helps with anxiety is by reducing the levels of the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ when under stress. This means that if you are placed under undue stress and you are taking Withania your body will not feel the adverse effects of stress as acutely. The follow on effects of taking Withania are many. This has a beneficial effect on the immune system, inflammation and the nervous system as the body is protected from the effects of stress. Traditionally the herb has been used to promote healing during times of sickness or stress as its tonic effects were well known among Ayurvedic {traditional Indian Medicine} practitioners. Withania works fast and a noticeable effect usually take place within 24 hours of taking the remedy. It is best used long term and when under stress or when recovering from stress so its tonic effects can take place. It is definately a feel good herb!

As practitioners of herbal medicine we can help with any nervous system issues whether it be nervous exhaustion, irritability, insomnia or mood disorders. We have many herbal remedies that can work to help with stress related symptoms and have a lower risk of side-effects. As with any health issue stress is best solved if treated holistically – so at the first sign of trouble in your life come in and talk to us here at the Apothecary. We are here to help. For information on our Stress Clinic click here.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29575228


Simone Reddington is the founder of the Apothecary, a Medical Herbalist and thinker. She holds a degree in Psychology and is a professional member of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists.