7 Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Trembling, sweating, nausea, hyperventilating, ringing in the ears and heart palpitations — a panic attack can strike without warning, and its effects, although usually harmless, can be terrifying for the sufferer. Lasting anywhere between five and 20 minutes, a panic attack can feel as real and dangerous as a heart attack and leave the sufferer with a frightening sense that they’re about to die. These sudden surges of anxiety and fear continue to baffle the medical community.
Research suggests that a panic attack can be brought about for a whole host of reasons — you may be triggered by a particular person, experience or location, or suddenly feel overwhelmed by a particular situation or thought. But these general ideas belie the problem; it’s difficult to identify why or how panic attacks and bouts of anxiety come around.
Because panic attacks can be sudden, unforeseen and untreatable by conventional medicine, it’s important to arm yourself with effective remedies and techniques that will help you stay calm when anxiety strikes. Here are seven natural remedies for anxiety and panic attacks.
1. Practice Pranayama and Keep Your Breathing Controlled
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
When a panic attack strikes, our breath is one of the first things to get lost.
But consciously regulating the breath can help prevent symptoms from worsening. Focusing on breathing deeply and slowly — on controlled inhalation and exhalation — is centred on steady diaphragmatic breathing.
This breathing technique allows more oxygen to enter the body, which calms the mind. Diaphragmatic breathing not only redirects the focus from the panic symptoms to your breathing but, as it becomes habitual, it also leads the nervous system to become less susceptible to panic in the first place.
It can usually take about two weeks to become acquainted with the feeling of diaphragmatic breathing and about six months of regular practice to turn it into a habit.
2. Sip on Chamomile Tea
The well-known herb chamomile is known to provide calming effects to the brain and reduce the symptoms of mild-to-moderate generalised anxiety. Its two potent nutrients, calcium and magnesium, can help in specific ways, with calcium having the potential to soothe muscle cramps and magnesium known as a powerful stress-buster. Together, the two can calm an agitated mind and relieve the physical symptoms associated with a panic attack.
Chamomile may also be added to tea to provide the same relief. To prepare, add two teaspoons of dried chamomile flower to a cup of hot water. Cover and steep for about 10 minutes and strain the tea. Add a bit of honey to sweeten and drink up to two times daily. It's an easy way to work a natural anxiety remedy into your daily routine.
3. Take a Ginseng Supplement
Ginseng is another popular home remedy for dealing with panic attacks. As an “adaptogen”, ginseng can adapt to and correct many mental and physical behaviours of the body. For someone prone to anxiety, this herb offers a relaxing effect by acting on the adrenal glands and regulating the heart rate. This natural tranquiliser also improves quality of sleep and inhibits the production of substances that are responsible for negative thoughts. Over the years, it has been used extensively as a traditional medicine for relieving many symptoms associated with depression, panic and excessive and unexplained fear.
Ginseng is available in natural supplements as a tea, extract, tincture and capsules. With its many applications, it's the perfect natural remedy for those who would prefer not to drink tea or take capsules just to benefit from ginseng's many positive effects.
4. Brew Valerian Root
Valerian root is a popular home remedy for individuals who suffer from sleep disorders, but it can also be used to treat sudden panic attacks. Valerian, often referred to as “nature's Valium”, like ginseng and chamomile, also has a soothing effect on the mind.
However, the herb is used to deal with the symptoms alone — not the anxiety itself. In practice, this means that the frightful thoughts may still be there, but they will not trigger as many physical symptoms. Because of this, you should take Valerian root with care and in moderation until you can adjust to how it works for you.
When taking as a beverage, prepare the concoction ahead of time, since Valerian root usually needs to be soaked in cold water for eight to 10 hours. Then simply strain the water and sip through the day. Alternatively, you can prepare it as a brewed tea.
5. Self-Massage Yourself Calm
Massage therapy is a highly effective method of dealing with panic attacks at home. Its many benefits include lowering stress levels and decreasing muscular tension. More often than not, the throat and neck are the most affected areas, as these remain tense during bouts of panic. Massaging these areas can help ease the tension, improve blood circulation and increase flexibility. These benefits can also reduce the general anxiety that accompanies a panic disorder.
A combination of kneading, rubbing, pressing or patting to manipulate the muscles — try rubbing the neck and breathing deeply — is a good place to start to cope with the onset of a panic attack. You can also use slightly warmed oils like coconut, sesame or sunflower, which each have their own holistic benefits and also give you a focal point as you wait for the physical symptoms to pass. When massaging, try using a circular motion across the forehead and cheekbones. You might then extend this to other areas of your body, from the arms, legs and soles of your feet to the chest, abdomen and as far up your back as your arms can reach.
6. Make Home Herbal Treatments with Kava and Passion Flower
Kava is one of the most well-researched herbal treatments for regulating anxiety symptoms. Its effects have commonly been associated with anxiety drugs, and kava itself has all the features of an effective herbal remedy. It is completely natural, non-addictive and can be taken as needed.
Kava, meaning bitter, has a long history in Pacific custom, used ritualistically and in social gatherings as a soothing, mood-improving drink. As an alternative, you could opt for passion flower, known as kava lite, since it bestows many of kava's relaxing benefits.
Kava and passion flower can be found in tea or capsule form, and are also available as a tincture, which can be dropped under the tongue for instant anxiety relief.
7. Stimulate Relaxation with Aromatherapy
When essential oils can't be used topically — applied directly to the skin — aromatherapy is the most potent way to deal with a panic attack. These essential oils have highly concentrated and active plant essences that can offer quick yet long-lasting results.
Among these, certain scents in nature can soothe the brain. These calm the mind, prompt slow, deep breathing and can stabilise the body during an attack. Consider relaxing essential oils like lavender, bergamot, clary sage, frankincense and sandalwood — choose one based on your preference and use independently or introduce it into your wellness routine alongside other forms of treatment.
For optimal results, essential oils can be diluted in a carrier oil and massaged onto the body. It may also be mixed into a warm bath, added to a diffuser or even inhaled directly from a clean cloth should a panic attack come on suddenly.
Are you looking for natural remedies for anxiety? At the Holistic Guide, you can browse a range of aromatherapy and massage therapy practitioners near you.