Natural Supplements for Anxiety
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about forty million American adults suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. The research also shows that anxiety is the #1 mental health problem
among American women and is second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can actually be beneficial in some situations. For instance if you are going to take a test or give a speech, your anxiety motivates you to thoroughly prepare. However, if your anxiety affects your day-to-day living and lasts for more than six months, you may need to seek help from your doctor to see if you have an anxiety disorder.
Whether you have a full-blown anxiety disorder or are just experiencing temporary anxiety, you may want to try some of these natural supplements for anxiety to relieve your anxiety symptoms. Some of the best natural supplements for anxiety on the market today are discussed below. Some of these supplements start working right away, while others may help lessen anxiety over time.
Passionflower is a plant. The parts of the plant above the ground are used to make medicine. This plant is used for insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, anxiety, GAD, and narcotic drug withdrawal. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates the scientific evidence of passionflower as possibly effective for anxiety. They also state that there is evidence that passionflower can sometimes reduce symptoms of anxiety, as effectively as some prescription medications.
Passionflower helps produce rest and natural sleep without a “drugged” feeling and it can help decrease blood pressure. The sedative properties of passionflower make it useful for calming the nervous system and promoting sleep.
Passionflower is found in combination with other sedative herbs such as chamomile, hops, kava, skullcap and valerian to promote calmness and relaxation. Passionflower can be taken in 250 mg capsules or 1 ml tincture form or 4 to 8 grams daily.
Since passionflower causes drowsiness, don’t take it when you are also taking a prescription sedative. Avoid passionflower during pregnancy. Don’t take passionflower for longer than one month at a time.
Passionflower is generally safe for most people when taken for less than two months. It is possibly unsafe if taken in large amounts. Some people experience side effects such as dizziness, confusion, irregular coordination, inflamed blood vessels, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and a rapid heart rate.
Kava has been used on the islands of the South Pacific for over 300 years. Numerous studies have been done on kava’s ability to relieve anxiety. There is strong evidence proving that kava is superior to placebo in treating anxiety and comparable to tricyclic antidepressants (Asendin and Norpramin) and to low doses of benzodiazepines (Xanax).
Native Remedies Zenx is a great product containing Kava & Passionflower.
Kava can be taken as a capsule, tincture or extract form. There is not a standard dosage but successful clinical studies have used dosages from 210 mg per day to 400 mg per day. Check with your doctor prior to taking any dosage of kava.
The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about the potential for kava to cause severe liver damage. However, kava sales have not been banned in the United States. I would avoid using kava if you have liver problems or take medications that affect your liver. Other possible side effects are blurred vision, nausea, loss of appetite, and shortness of breath.
Valerian is a wild plant with pink or white flowers that grows in damp places. Numerous studies were done on the effects of valerian on sleep and it was discovered that valerian improved anxiety, mood and general well-being along with insomnia. The people in Europe have been using valerian for over 100 years to treat menopausal nervous anxiety, hysteria, and nervous irritability. Valerian was even used during World War I as a tranquilizer to treat soldiers suffering from shell shock.
Valerian is an economical, natural sleep solution. It calms your mind to ease you into sleep. High quality valerian helps those who periodically have trouble falling asleep and who wake and toss and turn in the middle of the night.
Most people take valerian as a capsule or tincture. If taken for insomnia it should be taken in the evening 30 to 90 minutes before bedtime. If taken for anxiety it should be divided into two or three doses throughout the day. We recommend taking valerian in capsule form because of the musty taste.
Valerian is generally considered safe at the recommended guidelines. Start at a low dose and gradually increase the dosage. Side effects may include mild headaches, nausea, nervousness, and palpitations. However, controlled studies are rather vague about the side effects of valerian and report only that they are low.
L-theanine (or green tea)
The amino acid in green tea is called L-theanine. It helps you relax and calms mind chatter. L-theanine is involved in the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect. GABA also helps neutralize glutamate, a brain chemical that causes excitement.
Research shows that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure, and a few small human studies have found that it reduces anxiety. In one study, anxiety-prone subjects were calmer and more focused during a test if they took 200 milligrams of L-theanine beforehand.
L-theanine is safe for most people. Some people may experience stomach upset and constipation.
Life Extension Mega Green Tea Extract -Decaf is one of the green tea products we highly recommend.
Lemon balm has been used at least since the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, and help with sleep. Lemon balm is a slightly warming, sweet-tasting herb that also acts as a mild anti-depressant. In one study of healthy volunteers, those who took standardized lemon balm extracts (600 mg) were more calm and alert than those who took a placebo.
Lemon balm is sold as a tea, capsule, and tincture. It’s often combined with other calming herbs such as hops, passionflower, chamomile, and valerian.
Lemon Balm is generally safe, but side effects of increased anxiousness were noted on subjects who took an excessive amount of lemon balm. Just make sure to start with a smaller dose. If pregnant, use only half the suggested amount.
Chamomile has been used for various health conditions for thousands of years. It is used today for sleeplessness, anxiety and gastrointestinal upset. Some compounds in chamomile bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium.
In one study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, in Philadelphia, patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who took chamomile supplements for eight weeks had a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to patients taking a placebo.
Chamomile can be taken as a liquid extract, or in capsule or tablet form.
Side effects include allergic reactions such as skin rashes, swelling of the throat, shortness of breath and anaphylaxis. These side effects may occur with people who are allergic to related plants in the daisy family.
Herb Pharm Certified Organic Chamomile Extract for Calming Nervous System Support – 1 Ounce is an extract we highly recommend.
Omega-3s (fish oil)
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to normal brain function. They contain EPA and DHA and are crucial in dealing with stress. There is preliminary evidence that they influence serotonin production. Scientific studies show that fish oil has a positive effect in treating anxiety. In one study, students who took 2.5 milligrams a day of mixed omega-3 fatty acids for 12 weeks had less anxiety before an exam than students taking a placebo.
Fish oil is safe for most people when taken in low doses. There are some safety concerns when taken in high doses. Don’t take more than 3 grams per day. Some side effects include belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, rash and nosebleeds. If you take these supplements with a meal, it can decrease these side effects. Do not take fish oil supplements if you have a seafood allergy.
The best quality fish oils come from Nordic Naturals! They are #1 in our family and my son loves the taste!
In fact, Nordic Naturals – Omega-3 Lemon1000mg, 180 Count. is the product my son loves and never complains about having to take.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) can help alleviate depression and anxiety attacks.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) aids in the production of natural antidepressants such as dopamine and norepinephrine. The body requires B6 to make serotonin.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) helps relieve irritability, improve concentration, increase energy, and maintain a healthy nervous system.
Vitamin B3 (niacin) helps with anxious feelings and is calming.
During high levels of stress the B Vitamins are burned up and consumed at higher levels. Research has shown that the majority of the emotionally ill are deficient in one or more of the B-complex vitamins. Studies also show that the B vitamins are natural stress reducers and that not getting enough of them can cause anxiety. We recommend Doctor’s Best Fully Active B Complex Nutritional Supplement, 30 Count
Suggested use is to take one 100 mg time released B-complex vitamin daily after a meal. It is suggested that if you are going through a very stressful period of time that you take a vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide at 100 mg three times a day. We recommend Solgar Niacin Vitamin B3 Tablets, 100 mg, 100 Count
B-Complex vitamins are safe for most people. However, the possible side effects of vitamin B12 in some people are diarrhea, blood clots, itching, serious allergic reactions. The possible side effect of vitamin B6 if taken at high levels for longer that a year can cause severe nerve damage. The symptoms usually stop when you stop taking the supplements. Other symptoms include painful skin patches, sensitivity to sunlight, nausea and heartburn.
I chose these as the best natural supplements for anxiety because they were scientifically researched more than other types of natural supplements. In addition, they have been proven to be effective in controlling anxiety.
Rhodiola ,L-Arginine, L-Lysine,L-Tyrosine. They are often used for anxiety too, but have not been studied as thoroughly. They are still undergoing clinical research for their effectiveness on anxiety.
You can link to the companies that sell our recommended natural supplements for anxiety in our hand selected Supplement Store.
If you’re considering taking any herbal supplement as a treatment for anxiety, talk to your doctor first, especially if you take other medications. The interaction of some herbal supplements and certain medications can cause serious side effects.
If your anxiety is interfering with daily activities, talk with your doctor. More serious forms of anxiety generally need medical treatment or psychological counseling (psychotherapy) for symptoms to improve.