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Chamomile is a to-go herb when it comes to all kinds of mental disorders because well – it won’t do harm – even though there is not much science backing its benefits when it comes to anxiety disorders.

More than 18 percent of adults in the US — more than 40 million people — live with anxiety. Brain diseases, both mental and neurologic, make up for one-third of the total economic cost of all diseases. Individuals with the highest costs are patients with depression, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Anxiety is a normal human reaction and response to a stressful event, but if it impairs your everyday life, it can become an issue that has to be addressed as soon as possible. Anxiety is an emotion that has various degrees of intensity, so it’s not a surprise that anxiety disorders come in different intensities as well. While one person will only have a mild episode from time to time, another might experience panic attacks and severe stress at a mere mention of doing something out of their comfort zone.

Anxiety: Common signs and symptoms

Anxiety disorders can gradually creep up on you. It’s normal to worry, but it can be hard to differentiate how much stress is too much. Here’s a list of the most common physical and emotional signs that you probably have an anxiety disorder:

  • Pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Cold flushes
  • Shaking
  • Getting hard to breathe
  • Feeling tired a lot
  • Feeling irritated and edgy
  • Panic attack
  • Feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Racing mind
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts that keep coming back
  • Feeling of helplessness
  • Sense of impending doom

There are various types of anxiety disorders, but most of them share the symptoms above.

Anxiety and alternative medicine

Although most anxiety disorders are treated with medications such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, recently more and more people have been trying to control their anxiety symptoms without medications, either due to the price, lack of medical insurance, adverse effects, habituation, social stigma, or for the sake of a more natural lifestyle.

According to data, anxiety symptoms are among the top reasons people turn to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Although some of the botanicals have gained quite a reputation over time, the actual number of valuable clinical trials is still quite small.

There are many different ways chamomile is prepared and consumed throughout the world but its most popular form is definitely a herbal tea. More than one million cups of chamomile tea are consumed every day. Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) are the most popular kinds of this plant. When dried, chamomile contains many flavonoids and terpenoids from which derive most of the plant’s medicinal properties.

Over time, chamomile’s been commonly used to treat number of ailments such as inflammation, rheumatic pain, insomnia, hay fever, menstrual issues, ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders, as well as hemorrhoids. Science has found that chamomile can help with inflammation, reduce viability in cancerous cells, treat cold, cardiovascular diseases, help with diarrhea, colic, skin conditions such as eczema, and suppress blood sugar levels, among many other benefits.

According to data from 2008, almost 20 percent of adults and children in America used herbs to improve their health, and today this number is probably bigger. When it comes to mental issues, chamomile has been used to:

  • Prevent nightmares
  • Treat insomnia
  • Calm nerves
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Treat hysteria
A controlled clinical trial suggests that chamomile indeed has modest anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) and antidepressant activity in people with mild to moderate generalized anxiety. Even though this sounds promising, it was actually the first controlled trial with chamomile capsules for anxiety, so the scientist recommend additional research using larger samples and for longer time frames.

According to a large cross-sectional study conducted on more than three thousand adults, being dehydrated doubles the risk of depression and significantly increases chances of getting anxiety. This is only one among many proofs that you must stay hydrated to maintain good mental health.

Anxiety: Should you try treatment with chamomile?

Very few people are sensitive to and have allergic reactions to chamomile, and it’s generally considered safe. You probably already had it anyway. As a person who lives with mild to moderate anxiety and who’s missed a lot by living in a cocoon for years, I do love my cup of chamomile tea before bed. I also find it soothing when I get overwhelmed by unpleasant feelings, but I guess it’s not much about the herb as it’s about staying hydrated.

What helps one person may not help another, so the key factor in the treatment of anxiety and most other diseases is choosing the preferred form of treatment, and of course, the will to fight the condition.

Chamomile therapy is easy to dismiss, but according to studies, water (so I guess chamomile tea as well) can reduce the intensity of an anxious episode, and also has natural calming properties, so when stress strikes – feel free to try to dilute it with water or tea. It won’t be as helpful as benzodiazepines or behavioral therapy in the long run, but it won’t do any harm either. Just be careful and speak to your doctor if you take medications because chamomile can affect the absorption of certain drugs.

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