It is true that certain herbal remedies for anxiety or depression are not safe for children especially for young children and babies. The reason for this is because young children have a different metabolism than teenagers and adults. Their central nervous, immune, and digestive systems are still in the process of maturing.
Among teenagers, about 1 in 9 are taking some kind of complementary health product like herbal supplements so it is easy to understand that when children start to show symptoms of general anxiety, parents consider herbal options. But before you rush to buy a recommended herbal product for your teenager, it is important to know the following safety tips.
Safety Tips to Know before Giving Your Teen Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
- If your teenager has been prescribed medication by the doctor, consult with the doctor first because some herbal products can interfere with the prescribed drugs and even cause unnecessary side effects. An example of this would be St. John’s Wort which is recommended as a natural treatment for anxiety. However, this herb can affect the effectiveness of anti-depressants, seizure control pills, and anticoagulants.
- Catnip is a plant from the mint family whose flowers are used to make herbal medicine. It is used to treat anxiety and other conditions like insomnia, hives, migraine, and fever, among others. It is safe for adults as long as it is taken in moderation and not smoked. It is not recommended for children unless taken as a mild tea.
- Another of the herbal remedies for anxiety that should not be given to children is Kava or Kava Kava. The Kava root has been studied and researched as a remedy for anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It is effective but is associated with liver problems or of negatively interacting with prescribed drugs. The FDA warned against using Kava in 2002 because of its narcotic influence. If Kava must be taken, make sure that it has no more than 70% kavalactones, less for teenagers. Expect side effects like numbness.
- The Valerian root is an herbal sedative which is why it is sometimes used to treat anxiety. However, it is not recommended for pre-teen children or younger to take any dosage of Valerian Root. Children over 12 can take this herbal remedy in small doses but not for more than 8 weeks, preferably shorter. It is also highly recommended that as you draw near to the 8 week period (or end period), you taper the dosage slowly instead of cutting it off abruptly.
Excellent Herbal Remedies for Anxiety for Teens
Having mentioned the herbs that may be ill-advised for teenagers, here are the ones that are proven to be safe for teenagers. Needless to say, they are far better than the addicting prescription medicines with their side effects.
Although some of the herbal solutions have side effects, they are minimal because they are made from natural ingredients. This suggests that the side effects, if any, are not long term even if the herbal remedy is as powerful as prescriptive drugs.
This is an organic sedative highly recommended for mild anxiety. It can calm your teenager’s nervousness which may be manifested in physical symptoms like digestive problems or in mind games that causes stress. Chamomile is best taken as a tea, hot or cold. It can also be drunk to treat headaches which are a symptom of an anxiety attack. Chamomile is not recommended for continuous use even though it can improve liver function and lungs.
The Passionflower has similar effects as Kava without the narcotic side effect. It can be used to treat mild to moderate panic disorders by reducing tension, mood swings, headaches, and agitation. If your teen has been given Monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs, you will have to find something other than passionflower as your herbal partner.
One of the highly recommended herbal remedies for anxiety is motherwort. It is an herb that pregnant women in their last trimester and children can take safely. It relieves tension and anxiety brought upon by the pregnancy or for menstrual discomfort. It is good for circulation, lowering blood pressure, palpitations, and maintaining heart rate and calmness.
Other herbal remedies you can consider with the help of your child’s doctor are fennel, hops (which is used to make beer), and skullcap.
Quick Tips before Using Herbal Remedies
- Taking more to heal faster is not a good idea and will not work.
- Herbal remedies should have a time frame and should not be taken like one would with maintenance drugs. It is not a permanent daily solution.
- Herbal medicine works more effectively with a healthy lifestyle
Finally, it is possible to be allergic to certain herbs, so do be careful especially if your teenager has a tendency to be allergy-prone, not all herbal remedies for anxiety will be suited to your situation.