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How Do I Choose the Best Herbal Treatment for Panic Attacks?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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Panic attacks are usually very frightening experiences, and they are often treated with prescription medications like tranquilizers and anti-depressants. Since these medications can have a number of different side effects, however, you may want to choose an herbal treatment for panic attacks. Kava kava and valerian have mild tranquilizing effects, and they can be taken either at the onset of a panic attack or before bed. Passionflower and ginkgo biloba may also be effective at treating panic attacks, since they can help relieve stress and enhance mood.

Many individuals with anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, can suffer from recurring panic attacks. During these attacks, the person will often feel terrified; a racing heart, trouble breathing, sweating, and nausea are other common panic attack symptoms. Typical panic attack medications, like tranquilizers and anti-depressants, can be effective, but may cause side effects like nausea and fatigue. Herbal medications may be effective for some people, and may have fewer side effects.

Kava kava root is a popular herbal remedy for panic attacks and anxiety. Drinking a tea made from the root of this plant can be very calming, and it can also act as a mood enhancer. Small amounts of this herbal medicine can help calm general nervousness and possibly prevent panic attacks, while larger doses can help cure insomnia. Since some studies have shown that kava kava may cause liver damage, you should not use this herb if you have a liver problem. It may also interact with anti-anxiety drugs and other medications.

Like kava kava, valerian can be used as an herbal treatment for panic attacks by acting like a tranquilizer; it is particularly popular as an insomnia treatment. This herb typically does not have a pleasant taste when brewed in a tea, however, so you may want to purchase herbal capsules that contain valerian. Valerian can interact with drugs that are broken down in the liver, as well as sedatives and anesthesia.

Passionflower is an herb that is often used to treat depression and other mood disorders, but it can also be used as an herbal treatment for panic attacks. It primarily acts as a mood enhancer, and several studies suggest that it works well to relieve anxiety. More mild than kava kava or valerian, passionflower is often consumed as a tea or tincture. It may interact with blood thinners and sedatives, as well as an older type of anti-depressant called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Ginkgo biloba can also be used to treat panic attacks and depression. Like passionflower, this herb also acts as a mood enhancer and studies indicate that it can help improve blood flow. It is often taken in capsule form. Ginkgo biloba can interact with other medications — including anti-depressants — so it's best to talk to a medical professional if you're taking any prescription drugs before taking an herbal treatment for panic attacks.

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Discussion Comments
By anon350585 — On Oct 06, 2013

I am using a memory enhancer supplement that contains Ginkgo leaf, Gotu Kola leaf, Rosemary leaf, Rhodiola root, and GMO free Lecithin powder. Is it OK to use the passion flower for Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

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