Herbal Health Information on Panic Attacks

Many people who suffer from panic attacks will tell you that they consider themselves to be level headed, very calm people. They will often say that they have been through a time of horrible stress but that everything has settled down and they no longer feel stressed.

Ha! This is the trouble, whilst the body is under stress it produces adrenaline from the adrenal glands and other hormones to help us cope with the stress. This is our fight or flight mechanism which either helps us to stay and face the situation or helps us run away from it. When the stress is gone, the adrenal glands are exhausted and go in to a bit of a shut down and everything “falls flat”.

The symptoms include feelings of anxiety, hyperventilation and palpitations. Hyperventilation is breathing too quickly and shallowly and in itself causes a serious imbalance in the body chemistry, as carbon dioxide produced during normal body metabolism is not excreted properly by the lungs. This leads to an acidic internal environment, sending all the wrong messages around the body and further panic caused by the body trying to right the wrong.

Firstly, cut out all Caffeine. Caffeine increases heart rate and puts stress on the heart and nervous system, it absolutely has to go.

Caffeine is in:-




Coca cola

Many Boost drinks

If you have a high Caffeine intake you will need to come off it slowly as it is addictive and withdrawal from it causes quite severe headaches, so reduce by one cup a day every two days until you can come off it completely.

Next learn to breathe properly.

It is important that each breath you take in fills the lungs properly and then each breath out gets rid of all the carbon dioxide produced during metabolism.

Either get a Yoga video which will teach you to focus on your breathing and teach you relaxation techniques or do this simple exercise.

Lie on the bed flat on your back if you can. If you can’t then whatever position you are comfortable in. Close your eyes and breathe normally.

Count how long it takes you to breathe in and how long to breathe out. Do this for about a minute.

Put both your hands, palm down on to your belly. Just concentrate on breathing normally. As you are breathing, your abdomen should be rising and falling gently because it is your abdominal muscles which are pulling the diaphragm down as you breathe in and relaxing as you breathe out. By putting your palms flat on your abdomen you can check whether you are using your abdominal muscles properly by watching your hands rise and fall. You can do this little exercise two or three times a day for about five minutes a time, but do not at any time force your breathing, this is just making you aware that you are breathing normally.

Herbs for panic attacks fall in to two categories:-

Calming herbs

Passion flower is a gently calming herb which also supports the heart muscle.

Motherwort is calming, relaxing and also calms heart palpitations. I find it works well for women (hence the name I guess).

Valerian, this is a strong relaxant and calming herb but does not affect the way the brain functions so does not leave you with a woolly head. Smells like smelly feet though!!!!

Chamomile is the most gentle of the calming herbs and the most pleasant tasting if drunk as a tea. Also seen in the beach video.

Lime flower, seen on the Pevensey castle video, is sedative, calms, supports the nervous system and has anti anxiety properties, also pleasant drunk as a tea.

Nervous system supporting and repairing herbs,

Oats are the best nerve restorative, as well as being a brain and heart tonic, I would never leave this out of a mix for panic attacks.

Vervain, is an excellent nervous system supporting and repairing herb with alterative (bringing back to normal) properties.

Scullcap, I have to admit to using this herb ALOT. It has just the best nervous system repairing and supporting properties as well as having the ability to calm the brain down and stop it going into the mad “loop” thinking mode.

Ginseng is the herb that supports the exhausted Adrenal glands and gets them working normally again. It is an Adaptogen, helping the body to adapt to new stress and strain by stimulating the body’s own defensive mechanisms. Don’t take Ginseng an hour either side of any tannin containing drink such as Tea and Coffee and do not take it if you have high blood pressure. Ginseng should not be used for more than four weeks at a time without a break from it.

St. John’s wort is traditionally used as a nervous system repairing herb with antidepressant properties. Also seen in the shingle beach video.

Panic attacks respond well to treatment with herbal medicine so if you would like to visit me in the clinic for help, please see the clinic details which you will find by clicking here or on the Clinic tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

Herbal Health Information