10 of the Best Research-Backed Supplements for Anxiety

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Do you often feel anxious and unable to cope with the pressures of everyday life? If so, you’re not alone. Anxiety affects millions of people around the world, and can make it difficult for them to perform their regular activities.

Fortunately, there are a number of research-backed supplements that may help reduce anxiety levels significantly. In this blog post, we will go over 10 supplements recommended by experts that could provide relief from your anxious feelings.

By understanding more about these supplements as well as how they can be used safely and effectively, you’ll be better equipped to find what works best for you and find relief from your symptoms.

Can Supplements Help Ease Anxiety?

Supplements may offer a good option for helping to ease anxiety in some individuals. Some of them may help by providing essential nutrients that support healthy brain function and neurotransmitter balance.

Some supplements, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, lemon balm, and certain vitamins, can help modulate the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which are involved in regulating mood and anxiety.

The Importance of A Personalized Approach to Supplementation for Anxiety

Customizing the approach to supplementation is important because individuals may have unique nutritional needs, deficiencies, or imbalances that contribute to their anxiety symptoms. Factors such as genetics, diet, lifestyle, and pre-existing medical conditions can all influence the effectiveness of supplements used in managing symptoms. 

By tailoring the supplementation plan to each person’s specific needs, it increases the likelihood of successfully reducing anxiety symptoms and improving perceived well-being.

Why Using Supplements For Anxiety Are Not a Standalone, “Cure-All” Solution

Supplements for anxiety, while potentially helpful, should not be viewed as a standalone or “cure-all” solution. This is because anxiety is a complex condition that can stem from various factors, including genetic predisposition, brain chemistry, life experiences, and environmental stressors. Relying solely on dietary supplements may not adequately address these diverse range of contributing factors.

A holistic approach to managing stress and anxiety is essential because it recognizes the multifaceted nature of the condition and seeks to address the root cause of nervous system dysregulation. By incorporating various strategies that target both the physical and mental aspects of anxiety, individuals can achieve a more comprehensive and lasting improvement in their well-being.

Who Should Avoid Taking Supplements for Anxiety Disorders?

Certain individuals should be cautious or avoid taking natural supplements for anxiety without consulting a healthcare professional. People with pre-existing medical conditions, such as kidney or liver disease, cardiovascular disorders, and other mental health disorders, should be cautious when considering supplements for anxiety. 

Those taking medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, blood thinners, sedatives, or blood pressure medications should also exercise caution, as supplements may interact with these drugs, leading to adverse effects or reduced effectiveness. 

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and adolescents should consult a healthcare professional before taking supplements, as their safety and efficacy may not be well-established for these groups. Additionally, individuals with allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients should carefully review the supplement’s contents to weed out potential triggers.

Top Research-Backed Supplements that Help Ease Anxiety

Kava

Kava is one of the best supplements for anxiety. Its active ingredients, known as kavalactones, are thought to interact with the brain’s GABA receptors, which are responsible for inhibiting excitatory activity and promoting relaxation. It has been shown to be effective for anxiety and tension and is a good alternative to powerful medication [1].

Lavender

Lavender has marked efficacy in managing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders,  as demonstrated in clinical trials. It is believed to be as potent as prescription medications like Lorazepam, commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders [2].

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps the body to adapt to various forms of stressors, including psychological and physiological stress. It has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms associated with conditions of chronic stress or cortisol levels [3].

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is an effective botanical that effectively mitigates symptoms of anxiety attributed to sleep disturbance or insomnia. This makes it a good supplement to consider for those who find themselves struggling to get sufficient rest due to anxiety-related insomnia [4].

L-Theanine

Found naturally in green tea, this amino acid has a calming effect and has been studied for its potential anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties, promoting relaxation, and improving sleep quality. On its own, it doesn’t sufficiently reduce symptoms of anxiety, but when used as adjunctive therapy its efficacy goes up [5].

Vitamin D

Vitamin D supplementation is important for regulating the production of serotonin, which plays an important role in mood regulation. A deficiency of Vitamin D is associated with an increased incidence of depression, insomnia, anxiety, and other mood disorders [6].

Vitamin B6

High dose consumption of B6 is associated with lower perceived anxiety and a general downward trajectory of depressive symptoms. Combined with B12 or other B vitamins may offer slight synergistic benefits [7].

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

These fats possess strong anti-inflammatory actions and modest anxiolytic effects, as was demonstrated in a small study conducted on medical students [8].

Magnesium

The use of magnesium supplements helps ensure that blood levels of this essential mineral are kept in an optimal range. There is a strong link between magnesium deficiency and the development of several mental health conditions [9], which is why magnesium supplementation is one of the safest and easiest interventions you can make to manage anxiety symptoms and reduce stress.

Which Supplements Can Help Panic Attacks?

Inositol

Inositol has good potential in treating anxiety, depression, and even panic attacks. Although the study cohort was small, it stands to reason that the consumption of more inositol would help reduce the frequency or severity of such attacks [10].

What To Look for When Choosing a Supplement for Anxiety

When choosing a supplement for anxiety, you should prioritize products with research-backed evidence of efficacy and only select those from reputable manufacturers that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and third-party testing. 

It is also necessary to review the ingredient list for allergens or unnecessary additives and ensure the product provides the appropriate dosage and formulation according to scientific research. Consider transparency in sourcing and manufacturing, as well as user reviews and testimonials as added bonus points before coming to a decision.

Should I Stop Using Stimulants if I Have Anxiety?

Stimulants, such as caffeine, nicotine, or certain medications, can potentially exacerbate anxiety in some individuals. They can cause increased heart rate, blood pressure, and feelings of nervousness, which might worsen anxiety symptoms for some people.

Reducing or eliminating stimulant use could potentially help alleviate anxiety for those who are sensitive to its effects.

It is also essential to slowly taper down your usage and not stop cold turkey, as other negative symptoms might manifest under such a scenario.

Nervous System Regulation to Ease Anxiety

One of the most effective tools for reducing anxiety and reversing your symptoms from the root is nervous system regulation. Your nervous system is responsible for your body’s stress response, and when in a state of constant activation, this can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, panic disorders, chronic illness, and a variety of other symptoms over time. In addition to supplementation, addressing the root cause of your anxiety will be necessary to truly alleviate your symptoms in the long-term.

Here at Heal Your Nervous System, we have helped thousands of people around the world begin their journey of nervous system regulation and reverse their symptoms of chronic stress, anxiety, chronic pain and illness, and more. We’ve achieved this through our daily updates of tips and tools on Instagram, our weekly newsletter with over 70,000 subscribers, and our world-class program to heal a sensitive nervous system: The Nervous System Solution.

Conclusion

Although research has overwhelmingly demonstrated that certain supplements can safely help lower levels of anxiety and ease panic attacks, using them should be a part of a comprehensive plan for healing. Personalized attention and lifestyle changes are also necessary to adequately support the mental health of those struggling with anxiety-related conditions. It is also important to seek out evidence-based supplements made with high-quality ingredients, as taking ineffective products or those that contain potentially dangerous fillers are not worth the risk. With the right combination of nutrition, movement, supplementation, and nervous system regulation, healing is possible!

References

[1] Gastpar, M., & Klimm, H. D. (2003). Treatment of anxiety, tension and restlessness states with Kava special extract WS 1490 in general practice: a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind multicenter trial. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 10(8), 631–639. https://doi.org/10.1078/0944-7113-00369

[2] Woelk, H., & Schläfke, S. (2010). A multicenter, double-blind, randomized study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 17(2), 94–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2009.10.006

[3] Salve, J., Pate, S., Debnath, K., & Langade, D. (2019). Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study. Cureus, 11(12), e6466. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.6466

[4] Cases, J., Ibarra, A., Feuillère, N., Roller, M., & Sukkar, S. G. (2011). Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Mediterranean journal of nutrition and metabolism, 4(3), 211–218. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12349-010-0045-4

[5] Sarris, J., Byrne, G. J., Cribb, L., Oliver, G., Murphy, J., Macdonald, P., Nazareth, S., Karamacoska, D., Galea, S., Short, A., Ee, C., Birling, Y., Menon, R., & Ng, C. H. (2019). L-theanine in the adjunctive treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of psychiatric research, 110, 31–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2018.12.014

[6] Patrick, R. P., & Ames, B. N. (2015). Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior. FASEB journal: official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 29(6), 2207–2222. https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.14-268342

[7] Field, D. T., Cracknell, R. O., Eastwood, J. R., Scarfe, P., Williams, C. M., Zheng, Y., & Tavassoli, T. (2022). High-dose Vitamin B6 supplementation reduces anxiety and strengthens visual surround suppression. Human psychopharmacology, 37(6), e2852. https://doi.org/10.1002/hup.2852

[8] Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Belury, M. A., Andridge, R., Malarkey, W. B., & Glaser, R. (2011). Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 25(8), 1725–1734. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2011.07.229

[9] Lakhan, S. E., & Vieira, K. F. (2010). Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutrition journal, 9, 42. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-42

[10]Benjamin, J., Levine, J., Fux, M., Aviv, A., Levy, D., & Belmaker, R. H. (1995). Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of inositol treatment for panic disorder. The American journal of psychiatry, 152(7), 1084–1086. https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.152.7.1084

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Dr. Linnea Passaler

Dr. Linnea Passaler

Dr. Linnea Passaler has dedicated 20+ years to serving patients, first to a small number of individuals as a successful surgeon and then to thousands of people worldwide as the CEO of a digital health startup. After overcoming her own struggles with a dysregulated nervous system, she created Heal Your Nervous System (HYNS) to empower others in their healing journey. Her combination of neuroscience and somatic work helps those struggling with overwhelm, trauma, burnout, and anxiety to heal their dysregulated nervous systems and thrive.