With the worldwide prevalence of anxiety on the rise scientists are discovering that nutrition plays more crucially in mental health than previously thought.
A fascinating aspect of these discussions is the role natural supplements could play in easing anxiety.
Find out the most recent research and expert advice about supplements for anxiety, who may benefitfrom them, and who might not and a few specific types of supplements that may provide relief for some people.
What’s the cause of anxiety?
As per the American Psychological Association, anxiety is a constant, uncontrolled anxiety that won’t cease. It is estimated that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates approximately 12 percent of the U.S. adult population has constant feelings of worry anxieties, nervousness or nervousness.
If the feelings you experience become intense enough and frequently enough to severely interfere with daily activities, it’s possible you’re suffering from anxiety disorders. Disorders of anxiety are among the most common kind of mental illness that is seen within the U.S., with 40 million adults (19.1 percent part of population) suffering from it annually.
Traditional treatments and therapies for anxiety comprise psychotherapy – which is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy–and medication like antidepressants. They are well-studied and scientifically proven effective for treating anxiety.
While traditional treatments are extremely effective, some suffering from anxiety might find that the treatments don’t work as well as they’d prefer. It’s even estimated that up to 50% of those who are treated with common therapies for generalized anxiety disorder do not respond to first-line treatments, such as antidepressants. In addition, antidepressants may come with side effects including weight gain, fatigue and a loss of libido. These may cause some individuals to want to avoid or stop taking them (although you should not quit taking your medication without consulting your physician first).
About 40% of those with mild mental distress which typically includes anxiety, report turning to alternative and complementary strategies, such as supplements to find relief from their stress.
So, can supplements help alleviate anxiety? The short answer is maybe–and it’s dependent on both the reason and the severity of the anxiety. But, it’s always best to talk to your doctor prior to adding any supplements to your diet or exploring alternative treatments.
Supplements for anxiety: The need for a Personalized Approach
“Anxiety is a condition that can manifest very differently for two individuals with an identical diagnosis” explains Ripal Shah, M.D., clinical assistant professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “One may exhibit primarily physical symptoms (palpitations) when stressed or anxious, whereas another might be calm and physically relaxed but be internally agitated (racing thinking).”
Trying a supplement that affects the part of the nervous system that manages our “fight or flight” stress response might help a person with physical ailments ease their anxiety. However, this supplement might not be beneficial for those suffering from emotional problems.
Therefore, it’s vital to adopt a personalised approach to navigating anxiety-related supplements.
The other thing that’s very clear regarding the role that supplements can serve as a treatment for anxiety is that they’ren’t a standalone, “cure-all” solution–and they’re typically just one aspect of additional lifestyle approaches aimed towards managing anxiety
“If you are in search of supplements to enhance our brain activity but haven’t worked on our routine of exercise, created a daily mind-body practice, found a workable whole foods dietary approach, etc., supplements are going to be less than expected to impact,” says Brent Bauer, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic’s Integrative and Complementary Medicine Program.
“I always tell my patients, ‘supplements are not a substitute for.’ If there is a vitamin deficiency it is possible to consider supplements, but there may be risks to taking unnecessary and/or multiple supplements,” says Michelle Loy, M.D. Integrative medicine physician with the Integrative Health and Wellbeing Center at Weill Cornell Medicine.
In all honesty that, supplements to the diet for anxiety can be beneficial for certain people, specifically for those who:
Have a nutrient deficiency that is known to be present.
Have mild and only occasional symptoms
Are you resistant to taking medications?
Haven’t seen any results from other traditional therapies
Who should avoid supplements to treat anxiety?
Experts stress the importance of review and discussion of any new supplements aimed to ease anxiousness with a certified and knowledgeable medical professional before implementing them.
“Anything powerful enough to have positive effects must have the power to have negative effects as well,” explains Dr. Bauer.
There could be risks and side effects in taking supplements to treat anxiety in the following groups:
Certain medications could interfere or interact with certain supplements.
People with medical or mental ailments, in which supplementation could create stress or anxiety symptoms worse or create new symptoms.
People with severe anxiety who need access to immediate treatment.
Anyone who is pregnant or nursing (unless they talk to doctors first).
“In my practice as a physician I counsel my patients to engage in various practices for the mind and body (in addition to nutrition, exercise, etc.) for at least 3 months before we think about supplements,” Dr. Bauer.
Supplements That May Help Ease Anxiety
There are numerous supplements that claim to ease anxiety. Finding the right one may be an exercise in trial and error, but is best done with the help of a physician.
Find out more about natural stress relief on this website.
“If my patient is thinking of a supplement, we review the known risks and benefits and then we use an online database to search for any known interactions with their current medications,” says Dr. Bauer.
Some common supplements that can to ease anxiety include.
A Ayurvedic herb that may work especially well for those with anxiety and insomnia, ashwagandha has been proven to enhance sleeping patterns and stress resistance. It’s also a plant Dr. Loy recommends.
Recent studies of the efficacy and safety of ashwagandha to treat anxiety indicate that while effects are generally positive, the studies’ size is small. More research on the right amount and length of time ashwagandha must be used as a substitute for or as an adjunct to traditional treatments are required.
L-theanine is an organic compound that is located in leaves of tea. “L-theanine has some positive studies in relation to sleep initiation, and research on anxiety is not always clear,” says the Dr. Shah.
A 2022 review of research from Pharmacological Research found that compared to groups not receiving L-theanine, those who took L-theanine did not see a significant advantage in treating anxiety. However, a study in 2015 published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition does point to the benefits of L-theanine to improve sleep quality. Therefore, people with sleep issues might find this supplement helpful
Recent studies in the field suggest that magnesium supplementation, in conjunction with other vitamins, such as vitamin B6 or zinc, may be a promising treatment for easing anxiety in a variety of groups, such as those who are stressed and sufferers of type 2 heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, a majority of Americans suffer from a deficiency in this mineral and often don’t get enough from their diet.
In terms of concrete guidelines on magnesium for anxiety throughout the spectrum but, more studies must be conducted. “Currently there’s only a small amount of and inconsistent evidence regarding magnesium and its effects on anxiety,” says Monique Richard who is an integrative dietitian and National media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“While there are some studies that hint at the possibility of the benefits of vitamin D in anxiety or depression, the research is still not clear regarding whether vitamin D supplementation could alleviate the symptoms” says Doctor. Loy.
For instance, researchers still need to explore the way that vitamin D supplementation affects individuals of various ages and kinds of anxiety. Scientists are also studying whether taking vitamin D with other nutrients, like vitamin B6 or omega-3 fatty acids, have any benefit.
A 2022 controlled controlled trial in Human Psychopharmacology randomly assigned 478 young adults who were primarily female , to consume lactose pills vitamin B6 tablets or vitamin B12 tablets for one month. The group taking supplements with a high dose vitamin B6 self-reported a reduced level of anxiety.
A previous review of 2019 concluded that, generally, B vitamins did not significantly affect anxiety. In combination the two pieces of research highlight the need for further studies about B Vitamins and anxiety specifically when it comes to B6.
Cannabidiol (CBD) can be described as a plant-based bioactive compound found inside the marijuana plant. One of the primary reasons that people use CBD is to combat anxiety.
However, evidence from a scientific perspective regarding CBD’s effect on anxiety are rather insignificant.
Incredibly, a tiny 2021 research study in Psychopharmacology looked at what might have caused the self-reported credibility CBD is gaining when it comes to improving anxiety despite having a lack of uncertain scientific evidence.
The researchers randomly allocated 43 healthy adults to take CBD-free hemp seed oils in two different sessions. In the firstsession, they were told that it contained CBD (expectancy condition) and the second they were told that it did not.
The participants who had the most convictions prior to the study that CBD can help reduce anxiety had less anxiety after they were prescribed a CBD supplement. The study effectively confirmed that there was a “placebo influence” was responsible for the reduced anxiety symptoms, and not the CBD.
A different study from 2019 revealed that CBD supplementation did indeed reduce anxiety in 79% the people involved in the study.
Like many other supplements discussed in this report the two studies that contradict each other indicate the need for additional research-based trials in the area of CBD and anxiety.
Other Supplements to Treat Anxiety
There are many other supplements marketed for relieving anxiety, such as:
Omega 3 fatty acids
That said, “simply seeing it advertised or available on a store shelves does not necessarily mean that it’s a good choice for your specific requirements,” says Richard.