Herbal Supplements Used for Social Anxiety

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Herbal supplements are sometimes used to help relieve anxiety. Below is a list of some of the more popular herbal supplements that may be used in the treatment of social anxiety disorder (SAD). While herbal supplements are not a substitute for evidence-based treatments for SAD, you may find that they help with particular symptoms.

Herbal Supplements Commonly Used to Relieve Anxiety

The following supplements are often used in an attempt to ease the symptoms of SAD.


If you live in North America, you are probably most familiar with chamomile in the form of tea. Most people who drink chamomile tea do it before bed for the calming and sedating effects that are traditionally thought to be induced by the drink.

At present, scientific research evidence is lacking to support any anti-anxiety properties of this herbal supplement.

Kava Kava

There is some clinical evidence that kava kava is helpful for problems with anxiety. However, due to concerns over the potential for liver damage, several countries have released safety warnings or banned this supplement.

If you are using or plan to use kava kava, consult with your doctor. Kava kava is not recommended if you have liver disease, liver problems, or you are taking medications that affect the liver.

Passion Flower

Passion flower is a climbing vine native to southeastern North America. The flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant are used to create the herbal supplement, which has shown some promise for use in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and nervous disorders.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea differs from most herbal supplements in that the plant, also known as golden root or arctic root, thrives in dry and cold climates such as Siberia.

Rhodiola rosea is known as an adaptogen, which means that it is believed to increase resistance to stress.

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort is a popular herbal supplement used primarily in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Although its use in the treatment of anxiety appears to be on the increase, more evidence is needed to support the effectiveness of the herb for this purpose.

Valerian Root

Valerian root has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for sleep problems, digestive problems, nervous disorders, and other ailments. Today it is primarily used as a sleep aid.

Not enough scientific evidence supports the use of valerian root in the treatment of anxiety disorders. However, anecdotal reports indicate that it promotes feelings of calmness and reduces nervous tension and stress.

Winter Cherry

Also known as ashwagandha or Indian ginseng, winter cherry has historically been used to increase resistance to physical and emotional stress.

The Effectiveness of Supplements for Social Anxiety

If you are considering taking herbal supplements to treat social anxiety disorder (SAD), it is important to know that little scientific evidence exists to support the effectiveness of these alternative medicines for the treatment of anxiety.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements. Most herbs and supplements are not thoroughly tested; and there is no guarantee regarding the ingredients or safety of the products.

You should discuss the use of herbal supplements with your doctor, particularly if you are taking other medications or receiving other forms of treatment. Alternative medicines should be considered complementary to treatments proven effective for SAD such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."