Homeopathic treatments for anxiety: What to know
While many people experience relief from therapy, others find that therapy alone is not enough. Anti-anxiety medications may work for some people but can also trigger unpleasant side effects. While there is little scientific evidence to support it, some people find homeopathy helpful.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate homeopathic treatments, so the ingredients in these treatments may be less consistent and, in some cases, dangerous. It is essential to speak to a doctor before trying homeopathic approaches.
A person should speak to their doctor before trying any homeopathy product.
If a person has an illness, a practitioner may recommend that they take very low doses of a substance that would cause the same symptoms as their illness in high doses.
Homeopaths believe that lower doses of the same ingredient might reverse symptoms. There is no conclusive scientific evidence to suggest that these homeopathic remedies work.
The British Homeopathic Association, which uses this approach, highlights the following remedies for anxiety:
- Arsenicum album: This herbal remedy may help with chronic anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Ignatia: This may help depression or anxiety following a sudden trauma or shock.
- Natrum muriaticum: This may help chronic stress and mild depression.
- Sepia: Sepia may help people who feel drained and unloved, and it may be particularly useful with postpartum mental health issues.
The National Center for Homeopathy also recommend these additional treatments for anxiety:
- Aconite: Some people believe this can help treat acute anxiety attacks.
- Argentum nitricum: Practitioners may suggest this for individuals who have anxiety about small spaces, heights, bridges, and personal health.
- Lycopodium: This may help those who have anxiety due to responsibilities, which may become a fear of failure.
- Silica: Some people think silica can help those who have a lack of self-confidence and fear of public speaking.
- Stramonium: Advocates believe this may help people whose anxiety is causing night terrors.
The limited available recent research on these remedies has mostly been in animal studies. For example, one 2012 study found that ignatia might relieve anxiety in mice. The mice who received this remedy displayed reduced physical signs of anxiety.
However, the authors of a 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis looked at 75 trials of homeopathic remedies. They found that "reliable evidence is lacking" and that the quality of the existing evidence was low.
Other natural remedies
Some other natural treatments with more robust research supporting their use include:
Lavender is a popular ingredient in many natural products because of its pleasant aroma.
Some research suggests that lavender aromatherapy may improve a wide range of anxiety symptoms, including symptoms of generalized anxiety and phobias.
A 2010 study compared people with dental anxiety using lavender aromatherapy to those who received no treatment. Only the lavender group reported that their level of anxiety had decreased.
Another 2010 study compared people with generalized anxiety who used a lavender essential oil preparation called silexan to those who took the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam.
Both groups had similar improvements in sleep and anxiety. However, the lavender oil group was less likely to experience grogginess.
Valerian root, which is available in capsule form, may help relieve anxiety in some people. It is a popular home remedy for insomnia.
Some research in animal models, including a 2010 study, suggests that Valerian may help relieve anxiety symptoms. In the study, rats that received valerian displayed a reduction in anxious behaviors.
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A 2017 systematic review assessed the effects of magnesium supplementation on feelings of stress and anxiety. Researchers found that magnesium did improve symptoms of anxiety. However, the quality of the evidence was low, pointing to the need for more data.
Passionflower has a long history of use as a sedative and may help relieve anxiety. The authors of a 2017 review found good evidence for its effectiveness in helping treat anxiety and nervousness.
Side effects and risks
The fact that a remedy is "natural" does not mean that it is safe. The risks of using homeopathic treatments include:
- interactions with other drugs
- ingredients that the label does not list
- contamination of ingredients
- formulations that vary from bottle to bottle
- safety issues that researchers have not studied or documented
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not evaluate the claims that homeopathic supplement manufacturers make. This means there is no certainty that the products work even when the manufacturers claim they do.
A person using homeopathic treatment for anxiety may also be at risk of allergic reactions or negative side effects.
When to speak to a doctor
Having anxiety does not necessarily mean a person needs to take medication. In fact, therapy, meditation, diet changes, exercise, and other lifestyle changes can be highly effective.
People can speak to a doctor or specialist, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, for help choosing the right treatment.
Anxiety is highly treatable with the right combination of therapy, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, medication.
While some natural remedies can make good complementary treatments for people with anxiety, there is little scientific evidence that homeopathy is safe or effective.