Many people turn to natural medicine to help with their anxiety, and they do so for different reasons. Some reasons are good ones, some not so good. Let’s look at some of the reasons you should and should not use natural anti-anxiety remedies.
Natural Remedies Support a Holistic Approach to Health
Holistic medicine includes many modalities, but the common idea is to treat the patient as a complete person. A complete person is a system including mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and other aspects. These work together to determine overall health. A holistic (or whole-istic) approach considers all of these pieces. Food as medicine, meditation, and other natural approaches are common in traditional, holistic medicine.
Prescription Medicines Have Not Worked for You
Maybe you have been working with a psychiatrist or another doctor who has prescribed medicine for you, and it hasn’t worked. Some people try lots of meds, in lots of combinations, before they find the mix that works for them. And some people never find a fix in prescription medications, no matter how many cocktails they try. Maybe the meds help with anxiety, but leave you tired, cause you to gain weight, or have other side-effects you just can’t live with. This may be a good reason to try a natural alternative to prescription medication – with the oversight of your medical professional.
Your Anxiety is Chronic but not Life-Threatening
You have been living with your anxiety for a long time, managing to push through, day after day. You’ve got your life “under control”, but you still deal with the effects of anxiety on a regular basis. You’re not thinking about hurting yourself, or anyone else; you’re just looking for some relief. This is one of the best reasons to explore natural solutions, before turning to prescription, or even over-the-counter, medicines.
Adverse Effects of Prescription Meds Worry You
Many natural anti-anxiety remedies have been used for hundreds or thousands of years. Their risks are well understood. Side-effects for popular, natural remedies don’t sound anything like the warnings on those commercials for prescription medicines!
Let’s be clear about this: no medicine, natural or otherwise, is without risks. Just because something is natural, does not mean it is safe. In fact, many prescription medicines contain the same compounds as the herbs or minerals you may seek to use.
If you haven’t researched the side-effects of your natural medicine, then this is NOT a good reason to use an herbal anti-anxiety remedy. On the other hand, if you’re aware of possible side-effects of BOTH the prescription and herbal options, you can make an informed decision. An informed decision is definitely better than an uninformed one! Which leads us to…
Reasons NOT to Use Natural Anti-Anxiety Remedies
The reasons not to use natural remedies almost all boil down to the same issue: a lack of science.
Little Test Data on Effectiveness
While natural medicines have been around for a long time, many only have anecdotal evidence to back up claims of effectiveness. If you value science, then arguments like, “it’s been used for hundreds of years”, or “it worked for So-and-so”, are meaningless. Seriously, people have believed all kinds of nonsense, for thousands of years. And what works for So-and-so may not work for you. It may not have even worked for her; maybe she got better for some other reason. So please, do your research. We’re not saying you have to have clinical trial results before you try something. But don’t just start taking something because your friend or a wannabe guru says so.
No Fixed Doses
If a medicine hasn’t been studied, you can’t really be sure how much to use. This is especially true for herbal medicine, because the source is often unknown. The same herb grown in two different places may have different amounts of active compounds. If you’re going to experiment, do so with appropriate caution.
We often lack information on the quality of herbal remedies. Especially in the United States, where the laws treat herbal supplements like foods, rather than drugs, you can’t even be sure the bottle contains ANY ingredients to address your anxiety. You can’t just trust what it says on the label.
Natural Anti-Anxiety Remedies – Are They for You?
Herbal and other natural cures for anxiety can be extremely useful, but you should really start using them for the right reasons.
If you’re working on holistic wellness, then natural remedies can play an important part in your overall plan. Talk to your physician about natural alternatives if you’re not getting benefit from prescription meds. If your anxiety has been a long-term inconvenience, and you’re not already treating with other medications, you might begin with natural approaches. Side-effects of prescription meds are troublesome, so natural medicine may be right for you.
But don’t kid yourself: all medicines carry some risk. If the lack of science on natural meds troubles you, then do the research! Nobody expects you to set up the test lab and clinical trials. But you should be willing to do some reading. An informed decision beats a blind decision almost every time. Make sure you’re willing to accept the risks, with your eyes open, before you start taking anything.