About Herbs for Anxiety

Kava kava, which is prepared from the crushed root of Piper methysticum (a shrublike pepper plant), is marketed as a natural remedy for anxiety and stress. However, the FDA has issued a warning that the supplement can damage the liver. In addition, long-term use of kava kava may result in allergic reactions, visual disturbances, or difficulties maintaining balance. Kava kava should not be used if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking antidepressants.

Valerian also is sold as a natural anti-anxiety remedy. Most research on the herb, which is prepared from the dried root of the plant Valeriana officinalis, has focused on people with insomnia. Less is known about its effectiveness in treating anxiety.

As with all herbal products, kava kava and valerian are not regulated by the FDA, and there's no guarantee of their purity or effectiveness. Drug-herb interactions are also a concern. It is important to discuss all herbal remedies with your doctor before trying them.

Publication Review By: Karen L. Swartz, M.D.

Published: 06 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 07 Oct 2014