Anyone who’s had problems with anxiety or knows someone who’s suffering from it can attest, it can be pretty debilitating. And since prescription drugs often have many unwanted side-effects, more and more people have been trying to find alternative treatments.
Of course, feeling anxious or worried every now and then like while passing an exam or an interview, is considered normal. But if it is affecting your life on a daily basis, taking natural supplements for anxiety is something you may want to try.
Actually, anxiety isn’t just one medical condition. It’s actually a term that includes a number of different disorders that can be panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia or generalized anxiety disorder. In case you are not sure, here are the causes and symptoms that all anxiety disorders often have in common.
Causes Of Anxiety
There are many different causes of anxiety and these are the most common:
Environmental stress, that can be caused:
- from work
- from going to school
- from a tense relationship
- because of your financial situation
- from the use of drugs
- from a lack of oxygen, especially at high altitude
Anxiety can also show up because of certain health problems that can make everyday life difficult, or as a side-effect of medication.
It can also be due to your genes like if you have someone in your family that has experienced anxiety, you are more likely to be affected.
Symptoms Of anxiety
- Sleeping problems
- Feeling panic or fear (panic attacks)
- Problems staying calm (being agitated, restless)
- Becoming sweaty or cold
- Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath)
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Feeling nauseous
- Feeling dizzy
If you are here right now, then you are probably looking for something natural to help ease your symptoms. Whether it’s because you have tried prescription medications and it didn’t suit you or because you simply want to avoid the use of unnatural products, it totally makes sense.
After doing a lot of research ourselves, we have come up with a list of some of the best natural supplements for anxiety, to help you regain control of your life.
Best Natural Supplements For Anxiety
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also called Indian ginseng, winter cherry or poison gooseberry, is an ancient Ayurvedic medicinal herb that has been used in India for thousands of years. It is considered an “adaptogen”, which means that it helps the body to manage and adapt to stress.
When we are stressed, our body releases a hormone called cortisol.
Ashwagandha has been proven to lower the level of cortisol in the body, which in turn helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Another reason that makes it so popular is that Ashawagandha does not have the common side-effects of anxiety prescription drugs like drowsiness or addiction.
Other benefits of Ashwagandha:
- Improves concentration, memory and general brain function
- Helps lower cholesterol
- Helps stabilize blood sugar levels
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves immunity
- May have anti-cancer properties
Ashwagandha is indeed one of the most used natural supplements to help with anxiety. The fact that this herb also has so many other benefits makes it a very interesting supplement to consider, to improve mental and physical health at the same time.
GABA (Gamma-AminoButyric Acid) is actually an amino acid that is produced in the brain and whose role is to slow down the activity of the neural cells in the brain and the central nervous system. By doing so, we feel more relaxed, less stressed and anxious, and sleep better.
Even though it is naturally present in the body, it is very popular and effective in a supplement form.
Other benefits of GABA:
- reduces symptoms of depression
- could lower blood pressure
- could reduce inflammation and pain
- could increase level of growth hormone
GABA does not usually have particular side-effects but it is safer to avoid taking it if you are pregnant, breast-feeding.
And if you are already taking other medications or supplements especially for anxiety or to lower blood pressure, you should talk to your doctor first.
Kava Root (Kava Kava)
Kava (Piper methysticum) is a plant from the Pacific Islands which include Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. It is considered an “anxiolytic”. Kava roots contain kavalactones which affect the brain and other parts of the central nervous system and create a relaxing, euphoric effect like alcohol.
Kava root could be particularly effective if you suffer from insomnia, as it has been proven to aid sleep without the effect of dependence that sleep medications usually create.
However, Kava is also known to have some side-effects like dizziness, drowsiness, headache, upset stomach and could cause liver damage at a higher dose. So it should be used with caution.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia whose roots have also been used for centuries to help with insomnia and anxiety. It contains a number of different chemical compounds that work together to provide a mild sedative effect.
It is believed that it naturally increases the level of GABA in the brain, which is also known to relieve anxiety.
People using a Valerian root supplement report being able to fall asleep more quickly and an improvement in sleep quality.
Even though Valerian root supplements have fewer side-effects than synthetic drugs, they may cause headaches, dizziness or stomach aches.
And it is extremely important that you do not use Valerian root if you are taking any other over-the-counter or prescription medication.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is another amino acid that the body produces naturally. It helps the body to produce serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends signals between nerve cells. By increasing the level of serotonin in the body, 5-HTP helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Other Benefits of 5-HTC:
- can promote sleep
- can help in weight loss
- could reduce migraines
- could help with symptoms of fibromyalgia
Like other supplements, 5-HTC has some possible side-effects that include diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. You should not take 5-HTC if you are also taking medications that increase serotonin levels like some painkillers, antidepressants or cough medicines.
Magnesium is a mineral that has also been proven to help relax muscles and calm the nervous system as it promotes GABA function. This makes it a good supplement to consider, to reduce symptoms of anxiety and increase calmness.
Magnesium supplements are more effective when taken with calcium as the two need each other to work properly.
There are some supplements available that contain both.
Other benefits of magnesium:
- can relieve constipation
- can help with indigestion and heartburn
Magnesium is normally considered safe for most people. Possible side-effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a vine plant whose flowers, leaves and stems have been used as a natural remedy for a long time to treat anxiety, insomnia, and hysteria.
Other benefits of passionflower:
- lowers blood pressure
- acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Passionflower is usually considered safe but it could have some side-effects that include drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and rapid heartbeat. Like all other supplements, if you are taking other medications, it is better to talk to your doctor before taking passionflower.
Other facts to consider
To make these natural supplements for anxiety even more effective, it is important that at the same time, you have a well-balanced diet and keep active physically as these are also very important for mental health.
Remember that even though natural supplements can drastically reduce the symptoms of anxiety, it is also necessary that, when possible, you try to get to the root of the problem as well and deal with what is causing your anxiety in the first place.