Supplements for Anxiety

Relieve anxiety with supplements for anxiety ranging from the safe L-theanine, to the highly potent kava kava, to everything else that works.

Supplements for anxiety containing L-theanine, kava kava root extract, passionflower extract, lemon balm extract, magnesium, inositol, essential oil of lavender, etc. may gently relax you and safely help you to get rid of anxiety. Here is essential information about these supplements, ranging from L-theanine, one of the safest supplements, to kava kava, one of the most potent supplements, and everything else that works.

ContentsNatural Remedies for Anxiety

Herbs for Anxiety - Treat Anxiety Naturally

L-Theanine Supplements for Anxiety: -

L-theanine is a natural and safe compound present in small amounts in green tea. The relaxing effects of about 50-200 milligrams of this compound can be felt within 30 minutes of taking it and they can last for as long as 8-10 hours. Even though medical and scientific studies indicate that green tea has several health benefits, the quantity of L-theanine in a cup or even several cups of green tea is too low to reduce anxiety. Moreover green tea also contains caffeine, which is a stimulant and is not recommended for people suffering from anxiety or insomnia. In order to benefit from the anxiety-reducing effects of L-theanine, one needs to take L-theanine supplements for anxiety, which contain high concentrations of this natural compound.

L-theanine is also called L-gamma-glutamylethylamide or simply theanine. It is an amino acid found in the leaves of Camellia sinensis (green-tea) plant. This amino acid relieves mental and physical stress, and also improves some cognitive functions. When consumed, it enters the blood stream and crosses the blood-brain barrier. In the brain, it increases the levels of the neurotransmitters, GABA and dopamine. It also blocks the binding of L-glutamic acid to glutamate receptors, and inhibits excitation of cortical neurons. This creates a relaxing effect. It can also reduce blood-pressure. Pure L-theanine supplements for anxiety are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA.

A study measured the electrical activity of the brain after L-theanine had been consumed and found an increase in alpha-waves in the brain. Alpha waves (8-12 Hz) are neural oscillations detected by electroencephalography (EEG). They are found during wakeful relaxation or during attentive but relaxed behavior (as in some meditative states).

The usual dosage of L-theanine is about 50-200 mg, but people experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety may increase the dosage to 1200 mg daily (taken in 4 divided doses of 300 mg each). It may start working within 30 minutes and the relaxing effects may last for 8 to 10 hours. Side-effects or interactions are extremely rare. This makes L-theanine one of the safest supplements for anxiety.

Since L-theanine relaxes the mind and reduces blood-pressure, you may not combine it with other medicines or substances that act in the same or in the opposite manner. For example, combining it with medicines used to treat high blood pressure may possibly cause an excessive decrease in blood pressure; combining it with medicines that stimulate the nervous system may possibly reduce the effectiveness of those CNS stimulants, because L-theanine relaxes the nervous system; and combining it with alcohol or sedatives may possibly cause excessive drowsiness.

Kava Kava Supplements for Anxiety: -

Kava kava (Piper methysticum) is a shrub grown in the western Pacific. An extract prepared from its roots is one of the most potent supplements for anxiety. Several scientific studies lend strong support to its effectiveness. It can relieve anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. It can help both generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.

The natives use the roots of this shrub to prepare a ceremonial, relaxing drink. It produces an immediate and pleasant relaxation. Users report an effect similar to that of an alcoholic drink, but unlike alcohol it does not seem to have an adverse effect on the clarity of one's thoughts. It relaxes tense muscles, uplifts mood and acts on amygdala, the anxiety center of the brain. Among the Pacific islanders, it aids socialization and acts as an agent of tranquility and peace.

The anxiolytic action of kavalactones (compounds present in kava kava roots and/or kava kava supplements for anxiety) is thought to be due to enhanced ligand binding to GABA type A receptors, norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibition, suppression of the synthesis of the eicosanoid thromboxane A(2), blockage of voltage-gated sodium ion channels, diminished excitatory neurotransmitter release due to calcium ion channel blockade, and reversible inhibition of monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B).

After reports of about 20 to 50 cases of liver damage in people taking dietary supplements containing Kava Kava extracts (mostly in European countries), a consumer advisory published by the FDA in 2002 warned consumers about possible liver damage from kava kava supplements. However, native Pacific Islanders have been using kava kava for thousands of years and no conclusive proof exists that kava kava supplements cause liver damage. It is possible that simultaneous use of alcohol and/or other pharmaceuticals, or the use of the leaves and bark of kava kava instead of its roots, or the presence of fungal contaminants (aflatoxins) of kava kava were responsible for the liver injuries in the reported cases.

Do not take kava kava if you are suffering from Parkinson's disease, depression, or a liver or kidney disease. It is not recommended for children, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Avoid taking kava kava supplements for anxiety for more than 3 months without a 2 week rest period. Heavy and prolonged use of kava kava for a period of 3 months or more may cause scaly, yellow skin rash (kava dermopathy), itchy skin, itchy throat, eye irritation, loss of appetite, stomach upsets, dizziness, shakiness, hair loss, and partial loss of hearing.

Do not consume kava kava supplements for anxiety along with alcohol, sedatives, anticonvulsants, anxiolytics, diuretics, phenothiazines, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), levodopa, blood thinners/anti-coagulants, or medications that affect the central nervous system or are metabolized by the liver (e.g. acetaminophen or paracetamol). Kava kava can prolong the effects of anaesthesia and should thus be avoided for 2 to 3 weeks prior to the date of surgery. Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery in case you experience any drowsiness.

Simultaneous use of kava kava supplements for anxiety and other anti-anxiety medications is not recommended, however under medical supervision, people who need to stop taking benzodiazepines (a category of anti-anxiety and sleep medicines) may find relief from benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome by slowly increasing the dose of kava kava while decreasing or tapering-off the dose of benzodiazepines over the course of a week or several weeks (as advised by a physician).

Passionflower, Lemon-Balm, and Lavender: -

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) extract has a calming and soothing effect on the mind. The results of a double-blind, randomized controlled trial revealed that passionflower is as effective as oxazepam (a prescription benzodiazepine) in relieving the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Though it is comparatively slower to act, it produces lesser impairment of job performance than oxazepam. It also appears to improve mood and the subjective quality of sleep.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) extract can improve mood, relieve anxiety and help you sleep well. The results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, balanced crossover experiment showed that lemon balm extract reduces laboratory-induced stress in humans.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil is used in aromatherapy, massages, and baths as a natural relaxation aid. It can relieve stress, reduce tension and improve sleep. A double-blind, randomized study indicated that the essential oil of lavender taken orally is as effective as lorazepam (a prescription benzodiazepine) in ameliorating generalized anxiety.
Magnesium Supplements for Anxiety: -

Magnesium is an essential element required in small amounts by our bodies to function properly. It is needed for the development of bones and teeth, and for the working of muscles, heart, kidneys, nervous system and all other organs of the body. It also regulates the levels of calcium, potassium and other nutrients in the body. The functioning of DNA, RNA, ATP and over 300 enzymes require the presence of magnesium ions. The reference daily intake or recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium is about 400 mg per day for men and about 300 mg per day for women.

According to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 57% of the US population does not get an adequate quantity of magnesium in food. Moreover, excessive use of alcohol, caffeine and salt can lead to further low levels of this element. Chronic stress and medical conditions like celiac disease, Crohn's disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, intestinal viruses, pancreatitis, etc. can also cause its deficiency.

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include anxiety, restlessness, depression, insomnia, irritability, apathy, confusion, restless legs syndrome, high blood pressure, irregular heart beats, osteoporosis (weak bones), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, numbness, tingling, seizures, personality changes, muscle spasm, muscle weakness, eye twitching, etc.

Some natural and rich sources of magnesium are pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, almonds, peanuts, tofu, spinach, green leafy vegetables, almonds, peanuts, buckwheat flour, oats, tofu, whole wheat flour, spinach, legumes (beans and peas), unrefined whole-grains, broccoli, etc.

Magnesium supplements can help anxiety, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), insomnia, depression, osteoporosis, certain diseases of heart valves (mitral valve prolapse), constipation, etc. These supplements may contain any of the over 30 different edible forms of this element, e.g. magnesium oxide, magnesium taurate, magnesium orotate, magnesium gluconate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium lactate, magnesium chloride, magnesium citrate, etc.

Magnesium oxide is very commonly used in OTC food supplements for anxiety, but it is not the best form of this element because it is very poorly absorbed by our bodies. On the other hand, magnesium citrate and chelated forms of this element are far better absorbed by our bodies.

Magnesium supplements for anxiety may cause stomach upset, gas and diarrhea. People suffering from diseases of heart or kidneys should not take them unless advised by their doctor. You should not take them if you are taking antibiotics, blood pressure or diabetes medications (unless advised by your doctor).

Inositol Supplements for Anxiety: -

Inositol is a naturally occurring isomer of glucose. It exists in nine different forms or stereoisomers. The most common form occurring in nature is called myo-inositol. The terms inositol and myo-inositol are often used interchangeably.

Inositol and some of its mono and polyphosphates are involved in a number of biological processes, including nerve guidance and serotonin activity modulation. It may be effective for a spectrum of disorders that are responsive to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). A number of scientific studies indicate that high-doses (12 to 18 grams or about a half ounce per day for six weeks) of inositol may help people suffering from anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and agoraphobia. It may also help depression and bulimia nervosa/binge eating.

Some rich sources of myo-inositol are grapefruit juice, cantaloupes, oranges, limes, blackberries, Mandarin oranges, kiwi fruits, nectarines, stone ground wheat, great northern beans, pea navy beans, rutabagas (swede turnips or yellow turnips), dark red kidney beans, garden or English peas, green Lima beans, black-eyed peas, and other fresh fruits and vegetables.

Inositol is a safe supplement when taken in small, recommended doses. Very large doses of inositol supplements for anxiety disorders may cause diarrhea, gas, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, or feelings of tiredness. People suffering from mania or bipolar disorder should avoid inositol supplements. They should also be avoided during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

L-lysine and L-arginine Supplements for Anxiety: -

Lysine or L-lysine is an essential amino acid found in soybean, lentils, pea, kidney bean, chickpea, etc. It is essential for the human body but we must obtain it from dietary sources as our bodies can't manufacture it. It has an anti-anxiety action because it acts as a partial serotonin receptor 4 (5-HT4) antagonist, decreases brain-gut response to stress and also decreases blood cortisol levels. A clinical trial showed that supplements for anxiety containing a combination of L-lysine and L-arginine (a nonessential amino acid) improved participants' ability to handle induced stress. It appears that a combination of these amino acids effectively reduces anxiety with no reported side effects.

Other Miscellaneous Supplements for Anxiety: -

Other substances that may have possible beneficial effects on anxiety disorders and depression are Withania somnifera (or ashwagandha, a herb used in Ayurvedic medicine), omega-3 fatty acids, nicotinamide (or niacinamide), vitamin B complex, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Some proprietary, over-the-counter (OTC) supplements for anxiety often contain a combination of herbs, vitamins, and minerals mentioned on this page.

General Precautions: Children, pregnant or breast-feeding women, people suffering from serious heart, liver, or lung diseases, people taking anti-depressants (especially MAO inhibitors) or other prescription medications should avoid herbs, vitamins and supplements for anxiety or consult their doctor to find out if they can take them. Herbal supplements for anxiety should not be taken along with alcohol, sedatives, or any other drugs that affect the central nervous system.

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