According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and above every year in the US.
Some of the most upsetting signs of anxiety include chest tightness, racing thoughts, fast heart rate, shortness of breath, extreme overwhelming emotions of panic, and loss of control, sometimes a feeling that may feel like chest pain.
While there are definite cases of mental illness related anxiety, some of the anxiety is the result of hormonal, nutritional and immune imbalances that appear to be psychiatric in nature
The fundamentals of good mental and physical health per are good nutrition, exercise, restful sleep, a healthy environment, and mind-body therapies and techniques (source). It is only natural to want to lay a good foundation for your mental health and physical health.
Anxiety is a result of a combination of factors that includes genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events (source).
It is an overall debilitating condition that can alter the way one relates to others and lives on a day to day basis affecting social, work life and quality of life.
If you suffer from anxiety you know then the struggle of trying to control the symptoms that come with this diagnosis.
This type of anxiety, that interferes with everyday activities requires management to bring a sense of calm and ability to function.
To keep the calm many people are therefore taking medication such s SSRIs anti-anxieties to calm their frantic minds.
These medications that are prescribed for debilitating anxiety such as alprazolam, Klonopin, lorazepam or classes of medications known as benzodiazepines.
And while this is all good and well-intentioned, it may not work all that well or does not address the root cause of anxiety.
And these medications come with unpleasant side effects such as dependency, and addiction, and sedation, and addiction.
Many People, therefore, are turning to natural anxiety remedies due to fear of the side effects of some of these medications.
Please do note that I am not advocating that anyone stop taking their meds.
Going the natural route is something that has to be well thought out and investigated and discussed with your doctor and mental health practitioner.
While it is important to continue taking your meds, you can also supplement with these natural products. However, it is crucial that you let your doctor know if you decide to start any supplements. Even natural supplements can interact with meds you are on.
So let’s talk about some alternative natural supplements that can calm anxiety.
Natural supplements that can help alleviate anxiety:
Some of the most common ones include:
The body, in optimum situations, makes its own melatonin.
But with age and lifestyles that do not provide for good production, melatonin levels can be less optimal leading to insomnia and associated fatigue and stress and anxiety.
And in the modern day world, it is easy to have insufficient production because melatonin requires exposure to natural light during the day, and exposure to natural dark toward the evening and at night.
And well, lifestyles, where people are indoor a lot or are exposed to lots of blue light can interfere with melatonin production.
Sleep deprivation goes to cause or exercabate anxiety and depression.
The main role of melatonin is to synchronize the circadian rhythm.
But melatonin affects more than the circadian rhythm and is indeed a multifunctional hormone, needed for many processes in the human body, a 2017 study found.
The same study found that melatonin can improve depressive symptoms and improve sleep quality and quantity as well as have anxiolytic qualities.
So if you have trouble with sleeping and experiencing anxiety or you can check with your doctor if melatonin can help.
One thing that may need regulation in cases of anxiety are the minerals in your body. Mineral deficiency can stress the adrenal glands and lead to impaired stress response, causing anxiety.
One mineral to make sure is optimal is magnesium.
Unfortunately, many people are deficient in magnesium and they don’t even know it.
Magnesium is extremely important in many functions in the body, in fact, it is required in more than 300 enzymatic reactions. including brain function.
It is necessary for healthy nerve and muscle function including the proper functioning of the heart, and deficiency has been known to cause MIs. Magnesium indeed has been called “a remedy for all that ails you.”
And there has been lots of research that has associated magnesium deficiency and many chronic diseases, including many mental health illnesses including anxiety.
Magnesium is needed to counter calcium and potassium which means that it is needed to make sure not too much of those two are absorbed into cells which can lead to adverse effects.
Magnesium has a relaxing effect and therefore it has the effect of calming the nerves and alleviating anxiety.
Research has also has shown that magnesium is essential for sleep, and of course, lack of restful sleep leads to feeling stressed and can make one feel anxious, and or depressed
Deficiency in magnesium also leads to irritability, fatigue, loss of appetite, insomnia, and easy stress.
It is notable that magnesium was once used to treat mania or severe agitation which explains its efficacy in decreasing anxiety. Research found that supplementing with magnesium was much more successful when used with verapamil to treat mania than verapamil alone.
Magnesium is also a successful treatment for PMS mood change, and research is promising on the use of magnesium for the pediatric bipolar condition.
One thing to keep in mind is the fact that we live such stressed lives and this stress also leads to depletion of magnesium. In anxiety which is a stressful condition, then magnesium is easily depleted.
Magnesium is also required in the conversion of 5htp into serotonin, and of course, low serotonin level is implicated in the depression and anxiety conditions.
Adults need between 320 and 420 mg of magnesium but most of us only get about 250 mg daily.
And that may not be enough.
Changing the diet and lifestyle can go a long way in managing your anxiety and your mental health as a whole.
And sometimes due to diet and lifestyle, chronic illness and medications one may need to supplement with magnesium.
So to be sure you can have your levels checked by your doctor.
Supplementing with magnesium has really improved my sleep quality and quantity and my mood, and daily functioning.
I have been taking magnesium and my sleep troubles have disappeared.
Magnesium calms the nerves and calms anxiety. If you want to try magnesium, I highly recommend this one.
Related: Many People Are Deficient in Magnesium. Are You?
Research has now proven that there is a great connection between your gut health and your mental health.
Think back to a time you had a sudden sensation of trepidation or butterflies in your stomach or had a gut feeling about something? Why is this?
Well, the truth is that your gut is your second brain.
Research shows that there is bidirectional communication between the brain and the vagus nerve, and the vagus nerve has interception capabilities. The vagus nerve is able to sense the microbiota metabolites and send signals to the brain.
Of note per this article, low vagal tone is incriminated in the development of IBD and IBS. The communication between the brain and the gut is ruined in this condition.
It is clear from this study that many gut bacteria strains produce many neurotransmitters, and indeed the article stresses that 5HT is produced largely by the gut bacteria.
As well, the gut microbes also produce a happy feel-good neurotransmitter, GABA which is known to control anxiety and irritability.
This interconnection is called the gut-brain axis.
This connection also shows that problems in the gi tract can also affect the brain function, as well as the brain’s ability to affect the digestive tract.
In fact, according to this 2011 study subjects tested showed a decrease in anxiety and depression while taking the probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 together.
The great thing is that while you are improving your anxiety, you will likely manage depression and general mental health wellness including the sleep and definitely improve your gut health, your immune health, and even skin health.
If you would like to feel the amazing health benefits of probiotics, this is the one I recommend.
Unfortunately, many people suffer needlessly from a vitamin D deficiency. There is growing research that point to the fact that many of America’s youth and even older pediatric population are deficient in Vitamin D, even without the classic sign of rickets. (source).
Vitamin D deficiency is especially common in children and youth with other chronic illnesses such as IBS, inflammatory diseases, as well as those who spend too much time indoors, African Americans and those that wear veils, (source).
This deficiency can lead to many dysfunctions in health including thyroid dysfunction, immune health dysfunction, and nervous health.
This perhaps explains the increased levels of youth and adolescents and increasing prevalence of depression and anxiety.
Deficiency in vitamin D can lead to depression and anxiety and supplementing with vitamin D has been found to enhance mood.
Supplementing with vitamin D is recommended in the winter months especially and in those with chronic conditions such as renal failure, IBS, and other inflammatory conditions, and those taking anticonvulsant meds because of they lower vitamin D levels ( source).
Also, vitamin D deficiency can also lead to deficiencies in other vitamins and nutrients and can lead to dysfunction in mental health causing anxiety and or depression because vitamin D helps in the absorption of other nutrients.
I recommend having your levels checked by your doctor and then he can decide the level of supplements you need. Most doses range between 1000 to 2000 IUs. Many times when people are very deficient vitamin D2 is prescribed for a short time.
So if you have anxiety, have your vitamin D levels checked and your dr can prescribe the right dosage for vitamin D.
In order to stop stress and anxiety, it is essential that one looks at their diet and lifestyle, and start eating right, eating the kind of foods that are best for the brain, and maintaining regular eating times so blood sugar is even. This way your mood will stay stable.
A 2011 study found that supplementing with a complex B vitamins improved stress response and anxiety from the stressful work environments and from the demands of day to day living. Subjects in the study also reported less depression and dejected moods while taking a complex B vitamin.
B vitamins play a variety of roles in the body. B vitamins are required for energy and for a healthy brain and nervous system. Of course, if you have no energy, and especially if running on low glucose levels you may feel fright and nervous, fatigued and depressed.
Trouble is so many people are eating simple carbs that don’t stay in the blood long. Therefore there may be times when you are sugars get low and if not diabetic you may not be aware.
Several of the B vitamins, such as thiamin, riboflavin, biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid form a part of the coenzymes that assist enzymes to release energy from fats, carbs, protein, while other B vitamins play crucial roles in metabolism.
Deficiency can lead to low energy, fatigue, and irritability, which are some of the symptoms of anxiety.
Inadequate levels of B vitamins can lead to depression and anxiety and are implicated in other health issues as well.
The Vitamin B1 or thiamine diphosphate is a cofactor for several enzymes involved in glucose metabolism.
And thiamine triphosphate is vital in the in neuronal membrane maintenance. is important in blood sugar control which can have an effect on anxiety. According to this research, thiamine deficiency can lead to neuronal death and oxidative stress.
A thiamine deficiency can occur in alcoholism, and in people who consume a lot of empty calories foods. Such as simple sugars found in many foods today.
Vitamin B3 has a role in many enzymatic processes and is involved in serotonin production. It is also involved in energy production and maintains healthy skin as well as a healthy nervous system.
While deficiencies are rare, they can lead to the four Ds of diarrhea, dementia delirium and death.
Vitamin B 5 is important in the function of the adrenals.
Also B6, B 12 and folic acid decrease the levels of homocysteine, a toxic by-product of metabolic processes in the brain which has been shown in research to be associated with some brain dysfunction.
Deficiencies in vitamin B 6, B 9 and B 12 can lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
B 6 is also used in the production of GABA, and dopamine, and metabolizing tryptophan into serotonin.
Interestingly, B 6 is used to make epinephrine and norepinephrine which means that when you get stressed more B 6 is used to meet the demand to make these stress hormones and there is not enough for other functions such as improved nerve function and transmitters production. So you may feel anxious.
Large amounts of B6 can be toxic however so its best to just eat more foods that contain b6 such as poultry and vegetables, and fruits such as bananas, and watermelon.
Talk to your dr, before supplementing.
B12 assists in growth and development and red blood cells production, nervous system function, and helps the body use folic acid and carbohydrates.
However at times due to conditions such as age, pregnancy, illness, some medications, genetics, lifestyles and food choices that are not optimal, these vitamins can be deficient because the conditions leads in some cases to less absorption from dietary sources, or the inability of the body to properly use them in case such as MTHFR gene mutations.
Some medications such as acid reflux medications can make it impossible to absorb B 12 which requires acid in the stomach.
Folate deficiency is common and can contribute to depression, psychosis, irritability, dementia, and impaired memory.
Folic acid, B12 and B 6 are critical for keeping your moods happy. They are involved in serotonin production, as well as other neurotransmitters.
It is important to take folate with B 12 to avoid masking a B 12 deficiency which can lead to pernicious anemia. and of course, being anemic will lead to low energy and fatigue, and shortness of breath which can manifest as anxiety.
B12- is crucial for the protection of the nerve cells and is important in energy metabolism from fat catabolism and carbohydrate breakdown into energy.
B 12 is essential for the formation of healthy red blood cells and maintaining the myelin sheath that protects delicate nerve cells. such a deficiency can lead to mental health problems like depression and, anxiety and is likely also implicated in other mental health problems.
B12 deficiency can happen in case of low acid production, which is in some cases due to thyroid malfunction, chronic stress and aging, and acid-blocking medications.
Therefore, given the many essential roles of B vitamins in the body and the working of a healthy nervous system, you may need to supplement with vitamin B if you think your diet is lacking.
Zinc activates over 100 enzymes in the body and plays many roles in health including regulating immune health, a healthy reproductive system and even plays a part in how neurons communicate with one another.
Research has shown that decreased zinc can lead to symptoms of anxiety. It is interesting to note per studies, that many people with depression exhibit low zinc levels and the level of disability correlates with the level of zinc deficiency.
Also, those with medication-resistant depression, have the lowest levels of zinc.
I know, this article is about anxiety, but most times anxiety and depression occur together.
And animal studies have also shown a relationship between zinc deficiency and symptoms of anxiety.
There seems to be an inverse relationship between zinc and copper.
Too much copper meant decreased zinc and symptoms of anxiety. With zinc replenishing, copper decreases and anxiety is reduced as well, the study found. Other studies found that zinc in animal studies may have an effect on depression, anxiety, and even psychosis.
Zinc is it turns out also protects against effects traumatic brain injury– that is, during recovery, zinc can be used to reduce the damage that can result in cognitive and behavioral deficits. Zinc also protects against environmental toxins.
5HTP is a neurotransmitter that is the precursor for serotonin, the neurotransmitter that keeps you calm and at zen state.
So if your brain is not making enough, serotonin you can feel anxious and or depressed.
Consult your doctor before using 5HTP. And especially if you are taking any other medications, such as SSRIs don’t take 5HTP without doctors advice.
Very important to note that this should not be taken with any prescription antianxiety or anti-depression medication.
This is because you can have too much serotonin and have a serotonin storm, a dangerous condition.
Long term use may not be recommended. Study indicates long term use can lead to depletion of dopamine and norepinephrine or catecholamines. This study shows.
Extreme caution is therefore warranted and doctors supervision is adviced.
Stands for S-adenosyl-L-Methionine a compound that occurs naturally in the body. It helps produce and regulate hormones and maintain cell membranes per Mayo Clinic.
While SAMe has been found to be effective in the treatment of depression, more studies are needed to evaluate its effect on anxiety.
Vitamins E, C, A
We all live a very stressful life, and perhaps some more than others. During especially stressful times. The body uses more vitamin E, and you may need to replenish it.
In a 2012 study published in The Indian Journal of Psychiatry, supplementing with antioxidant vitamins that included vitamin A beta carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C, lead to an improvement in anxiety and depressive symptoms, and the improvement was significant with a combined approach with meds for each condition.
Vitamin C; Vitamin C is an antioxidant. The body produces oxidative stress during metabolism.
There are biochemical changes that happen as a result of stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
This study people with GAD had significantly lower levels off vitamins A, C, and E and found that supplementing with vitamin A, E and C improved signs of anxiety.
Other Remedies for Anxiety.
GABA is an amino acid neurotransmitter in the brain that has been thought to reduce anxiety per research.
During stress, the brain is excessively excited. GABA’s main action in the brain is to reduce the activity of the neurons that it binds to. And some researchers believe GABA’s role is to reduce the anxiety produced when nerves are overly excited.
And to support this claim, it is important to consider that prescription anxiety medications like Valium or Librium or benzodiazepines, which work by helping increase the neuronal effect of GABA bind to the same receptors that GABA binds (source).
Green Tea: L theanine
According to Anxiety.org, the Chinese have used green tea to treat depression for a long time. Turns out green tea can also be used to treat anxiety.
L Theanine an amino acid found in green tea contains neuroprotective and mood enhancing and relaxation properties, that helps reduce stress reland the body and mind.
That is why having a cup of green tea is so soothing. So grab a cup of green tea, and if you don’t like green tea, you can find green tea as an extract in pill form as well.
Omega 3s oils
Omega 3 supplementation can also help with anxiety. Omega 3s are also antioxidants and have been found to be beneficial in nervous health function.
The great thing about omega 3 fatty acids, is that research has shown they are beneficial for so much more including brain health.
I take omega 3 fish oil daily and I find it helps level mood, improves my sleep, and even decreases aches and pains. This is the one I take and highly recommend. The EPA and DHA in omega3s have been shown to reduce anxiety.
Valerian is a common remedy for insomnia and has been used since the ancient Roman and Greek times.
It is known to relieve insomnia as well as calm anxiety, which often can be the cause of insomnia. In a study that included people with GAD, valerian was found to have a moderate effect in controlling anxiety.
Valerian works by increasing GABA in the brain. GABA is important as an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
That means it stops excessive nerve activity in the brain, bringing on a feeling of calmness.
So Valerian is a great supplement to not only help with sleep but to ease anxiety as well.
Kava kava is a native to the islands of south pacific and is a member of the pepper family. Kava or scientifically Pier Meythsticum is an effective treatment for generalized anxiety, per Psychology Today.
There are research and Systemic reviews that show that kava can improve anxiety significantly.
Kava is used for anxiety and to help with sleep. It has a calming euphoric effect according to Medical News Today Pacific Islanders have used kava in ceremonies to bring about a state of relaxation, according to NIH. Per this study, kavain the main constituent of Kava is an anxiolytic that enhances the effects of the GABA receptors.
Kava does induce relaxation, sleep and can even give a sense of euphoria. So I can see why the Islanders would use it in ceremonies- the euphoria must have given them a sense of being transported and therefore, enhancing the ceremonial effect.
Extensive randomized and peer review studies have shown Kava’s efficacy in controlling anxiety and comparing favorably to benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, lorazepam, and clonazepam, per Psychology Today.
And when the standardized kava extract is used, 60 mg to 300 mg dose is recommended.
Kave however, can interfere with some medications so a doctors guidance is recommended.
Recent research has found that Kava can lead to liver damage especially when used in large amount or in conjunction with alcohol.
Kava can also be habit forming due to its interaction with dopamine can, therefore, be habit forming and so caution to those who have had trouble with substance abuse in the past. It is important to check with your doctor when using Kava.
The excess use of Kava can lead to severe liver damage, and heavy doses can lead to heart and, eye irritation problems, studies have shown
Inebraiton can result in combined use with benzos. a study found.
Lavender is a popular essential oil whose benefits were discovered more than 2,500 years ago. It is well known for its relaxing abilities and commonly used to improve sleep. Lavender is known widely for its ability to promote relaxation and can be used as a pill or essential oil. The essential oils can be diffused or sprayed. I normally do both.
Inhaling 100% lavender essential oil is another way of using this relaxing essential oil.
A 2012 study on middle-aged women with insomnia found that lavender actually modulated the autonomic nervous system and modulated heart rate. Participants experienced improved sleep quality with lavender inhalation.
Bath salts with lavender are yet another way of finding a calm and great thing to include in the bedtime routine. I use these lavender bath salts every day and they are great for sleep and calms me down.
The cannabis plants have many compounds called cannabinoids, which includes THC, the substance that makes people high, and cannabidiol oil, which does not cause a high.
It is important to keep in mind that there are different cannabis plants including hemp, of which CBD oil is made. Research in the efficacy of CBD oil in alleviating anxiety is still ongoing but there is increasing evidence that shows that CDB oil can help relieve symptoms of anxiety.
This 2015 study is most promising showing an anxiety reduction in subjects with many anxiety-related disorders, mainly PTSD, GAD, PD, OCD, and SAD. Notably, the study found CBD to have a ” notable safety profile. ”
And in this 2016 study CBD oil was found to improve PTSD and anxiety-provoked sleep disorder, with no notable side effects. The study does say however that long term use effect needs to be investigated.
CBD oil as an alternative treatment for anxiety is promising, however, as with any other medication, it is important to consult a doctor before beginning.
CDB is not regulated like other medicines and therefore it is hard to know what the correct dosage is and so it may be prudent to consult a naturopathic doctor to determine dose.
CBD use may be helpful for people who want to control their anxiety naturally, or who have not found relief in regular medication.
The most important thing, however, is to be an educated consumer. Do your research and talk to your doctor.
A native plant to the Alpines, and also know as roseroot or nor golden root, Rhodiola is commonly used in folk medicine. Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen that has been used as a nerve tonic and in easing of anxiety for hundreds of years.
Due to its adaptogenic properties, Rhodiola can help reduce stress and manage anxiety, providing calm for anxiety sufferers.
A 2015 research published in Phytotherapy Research found supplementation with Rhodiola significantly reduced reported anxiety in subjects.
Also known scientifically as Passiflora Inaranta Linn has a long history of use as an anxiolytic agent in folklore in many parts of the world. Native Americans, for instance, used passionflower as a mild sedative according to NIH.
And per Medical News Today, people have used one variety of passion flower, the Passiflora incarnata, since the 16 century for medicinal purposes.
I sure wish I knew this when I was growing up as we had many passion fruit vines growing around our home. A beautiful plant with beautiful delicious fruit, and now good for anxiety, it a great thing.
“Between the 1970s and 1990 s, passionflower was listed as an official plant drug by the pharmacopeias of America, Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Egypt and India; its wide use has made it an acceptable treatment for restlessness and nervousness .” Lakhan, S. E., & Vieira, K. F. (2010).
The strongest argument for passionflower per this controlled study was that passion flower was found to be as an effective anxiety reliever as pharmaceutical benzodiazepines.
Also sometimes referred to as ” the Indian Ginseng,” Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful Ayurvedic medicines.
The use of Ashwagandha goes back 300 years. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine as an adaptogen in Ayurvedic remedies since ancient times.
It is said to work well for anxiety, in fact so well that it is comparable to some prescription medications.
Ashwagandha has many compounds, but of particular interest are the alkaloids and lactones which are thought to be hormonal precursors, hence the adaptogenic properties.
In a 2014 Systemic review, the study found that subjects experienced significant relief of stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha has been found in studies to lower cortisol the stress hormone. Too much cortisol can lead to brain fog and fatigue and even cause brain damage if levels stay elevated for long term. This then leads to excessive stress and anxiety in some cases.
Ashwagandha helps the body by stabilizing the stress response which eases anxiety.
Ashwagandha research states is a powerhouse adaptogen that has been shown to not only relieve anxiety but also clinical trials and animal research support the use of WS for anxiety, inflammation, Parkinson’s, cognitive and neurologic disorders and “as a useful adjunct for patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy”
Additionally, per the same study, Ashwagandha is also therapeutic adaptogen for people with nervous exhaustion, insomnia, and debility due to stress and is an immune stimulant for people with low white blood cell count (source).
Lemon Balm can be taken in pill form or as a herbal tea. Lemon balm is reported to have sedative effects.
According to this study, research subjects reported a feeling of calm after administration of lemon balm. Other studies illustrated that lemon balm does significantly provide relaxation and improve anxiety.
Camomille has many benefits including blood sugar control, antioxidant properties and helping to control inflammation, and even control cancer development some studies show.
It is a mild and effective way to achieve calm and is great for sleep. Make a habit of sipping on this tea to find calm, and in the evening for good sleep.
According to this 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, chamomile tea decreased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, suggesting that normalizing the biology of a stress hormone dysfunction may have something to do with anxiety as well, and why then chamomile is so good at relieving stress and helpful for sleep and anxiety.
This is why Camomille tea is widely used as a sleep and antianxiety remedy.
There are many natural supplements that can alleviate and improve anxiety.
Talk to your doctor about trying natural supplements and in some cases, people have been able to stay away from prescription medications and avoid their terrible side effects.
However, everyone is different and respond to medications and supplements differently.
what works for one may not work for another.
It is possible with great care in lifestyle changes, great natural healthy nutrition, a support system including your doctor and mental health professionals, to heal your mental health and keep issues under control.
If you suffer from anxiety or any mental health issue it is my hope that you can find help and hope naturally. Living as naturally as possible is always best if possible.
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Lakhan, S. E., & Vieira, K. F. (2010). Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: a systematic review. Nutrition Journal, 9, 42. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-42
Gautam, M., Agrawal, M., Gautam, M., Sharma, P., Gautam, A. S., & Gautam, S. (2012). Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian journal of psychiatry, 54(3), 244–247. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.102424
Kemper, K. J., & Shannon, S. (2007). Complementary and alternative medicine therapies to promote healthy moods. Pediatric clinics of North America, 54(6), 901–x. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2007.09.002