Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Supplements for Stress in 2023

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Stress is a common and often unavoidable part of life. It can take a heavy toll on our physical and emotional health, leading to problems like anxiety, depression, heart disease, and even premature death. As the negative health impacts of chronic stress become increasingly clear, more and more people are turning to natural remedies for relief.

One such approach is using herbal supplements known for their stress-reducing benefits. This guide will explore the world of natural stress-relief supplements and explore various science-supported options, helping you decide what might work best for your unique needs. So, let’s embark on this journey to manage stress better naturally.

What is Stress?

Stress, especially distress, is an overwhelming burden on the body’s resources that can eventually manifest as debilitating symptoms. It is a natural response to challenges, triggering a fight-or-flight reaction in the body.

While short-term stress can enhance focus and energy, chronic stress can have detrimental physical effects like headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart disease, and mental impacts such as anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairments. Hence, managing stress effectively is vital for our overall health.

Common Causes of Stress

Below is a list of common causes of stress:

  • Work or School: Tight deadlines, high expectations, job insecurity, or academic pressure
  • Financial Issues: Debt, financial insecurity, or the cost of living
  • Health Problems: Chronic illness, serious health problems, or injury
  • Relationships: Conflict with family, friends, or romantic partners
  • Major Life Changes: Moving, changing jobs, getting married, or having a baby
  • Traumatic Events: Experiences like accidents, natural disasters, or losing loved ones
  • Social Isolation: Loneliness and lack of social support
  • Lack of Time: Overcommitment and lack of time for relaxation or fun
  • High Expectations: Self-imposed pressure to succeed or meet certain standards
  • Uncertainty or Fear: Concerns about the future, instability, or fear of the unknown
  • Environmental Factors: Noise, overcrowding, pollution, or crime

How to Lower Stress Levels Naturally

To naturally lower stress levels, focus on maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Regular physical activity, like walking or yoga, can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and manage blood sugar levels. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains can nourish your body and mental health.

Ensure you get adequate sleep, as sleep deprivation can exacerbate stress and impair cognitive function. Incorporate mindfulness practices such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises into your daily routine. Lastly, connect with others – social interaction can greatly reduce feelings of stress.

Can Supplements Really Lower My Stress Levels?

Supplements are often promoted as a solution to lower stress levels. Some may help modulate your body’s stress response, promoting a sense of calm. However, the effectiveness of supplements can vary greatly from person to person, and they should not replace a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Safety is also a concern, as some supplements can have side effects or interact with other medications. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen for stress management. Remember, while supplements can provide support, they’re not a cure-all for stress.

Top Supplements for Stress Relief

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for a healthy brain, as lacking it can result in higher stress and anxiety levels. Taking magnesium supplements can alleviate stress, and when paired with vitamin B6, it may also lessen symptoms of PMS. [1]

Kava

Kava, or Piper methysticum, is a natural remedy that reduces anxiety. When taken orally, it provides fast relief. Multiple studies have found that it effectively reduces anxiety, some even suggesting that it performs as well as low-dose benzodiazepines. [2] [3]

Lavender

Lavender, renowned for its calming effects, has been researched for its potential to lessen anxiety, enhance sleep, and uplift mood by easing depression symptoms. Six out of seven trials reported positive outcomes in these areas. [4][5]

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb, is proven to effectively reduce stress and anxiety by lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. [6][7] It surpasses traditional treatments for social anxiety disorder. Moreover, ashwagandha is believed to enhance sleep quality and duration for individuals with anxiety-related insomnia and those without sleep problems. [8]

Lemon balm

Lemon balm, containing the amino acid rosmarinic, is known for reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation and can boost cognition under stress. It influences GABA signaling, potentially benefiting those with anxiety or depression [9], and has been proven to alleviate PMS symptoms. [10]

Inositol

Inositol has been proven to reduce anxiety, similar to SSRI medication. [11] It is also effective against depression and may help prevent panic attacks. High doses of inositol (18 g) are as impactful as the fluvoxamine medication. [12]

L-Theanine

L-theanine, found in tea, has been found to reduce stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation. According to a study, adults with chronic stress saw a slight decrease in stress levels after 28 days of taking a theanine supplement mixture compared to those who took a placebo. [13]

Passionflower

Passionflower, an herbal tea, has shown promise as a treatment and can potentially alleviate stress and anxiety by influencing the GABA system. [14] However, its effects on different types of anxiety are not fully known. Animal studies have shown positive results, but human trials have provided inconsistent outcomes due to insufficient scientific evidence.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D supplements help mood regulation through serotonin production. A lack of vitamin D can lead to anxiety, sleep problems, and depression. Numerous studies have shown a connection between low vitamin D levels and postpartum depression and sleep disorders. [15]

Vitamin B6/Vitamin B Complex

Studies suggest that B vitamins (B6 and B12) have potential benefits for reducing anxiety and depression. One study found that B6 supplements improved visual focus and decreased stress levels.[16] Another trial observed a slight decrease in stress levels after 28 days of taking a combination of B complex vitamins. [13]

Omega 3 fatty acids

Fish oil has proven to improve mood in people with major depression. Additionally, it offers young adults various advantages, like decreased inflammation and anxiety. [17][18]

How to Choose the Right Supplements for Stress Relief

Choosing the right supplements for stress reduction involves careful consideration of your personal needs, the quality of the product, and potential side effects. Begin by understanding your specific stress symptoms and health conditions, as different supplements are effective for various aspects of stress.

Always opt for high-quality products from reputable brands to ensure safety and efficacy. Look for third-party testing and transparency about ingredients. Lastly, be mindful of possible side effects. Even natural supplements can interact with other medications or cause adverse reactions, so consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Conclusion

In conclusion, selecting the right stress relief supplements involves understanding your unique needs, opting for high-quality products, and being aware of potential side effects. It’s a personalized process that can significantly contribute to managing stress. However, self-medication can be risky due to possible adverse reactions or interactions. Therefore, always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. They can guide you toward the most suitable and safest option for your needs.

References

[1] De Souza MC, Walker AF, Robinson PA, Bolland K. A synergistic effect of a daily supplement for 1 month of 200 mg magnesium plus 50 mg vitamin B6 for the relief of anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2000 Mar;9(2):131-9. doi: 10.1089/152460900318623. PMID: 10746516.

[2] Malsch U, Kieser M. Efficacy of kava-kava in the treatment of non-psychotic anxiety, following pretreatment with benzodiazepines. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001 Sep;157(3):277-83. doi: 10.1007/s002130100792. PMID: 11605083.

[3] Connor KM, Davidson JR. A placebo-controlled study of Kava kava in generalized anxiety disorder. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2002 Jul;17(4):185-8. doi: 10.1097/00004850-200207000-00005. PMID: 12131602.

[4] Shamabadi A, Akhondzadeh S. Efficacy and tolerability of Lavandula angustifolia in treating patients with the diagnosis of depression: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Complement Integr Med. 2021 Aug 23;20(1):81-91. doi: 10.1515/jcim-2020-0498. PMID: 34420270.

[5] Seifritz E, Schläfke S, Holsboer-Trachsler E. Beneficial effects of Silexan on sleep are mediated by its anxiolytic effect. J Psychiatr Res. 2019 Aug;115:69-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.04.013. Epub 2019 Apr 17. PMID: 31121394.

[6] Pratte MA, Nanavati KB, Young V, Morley CP. An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Dec;20(12):901-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0177. PMID: 25405876; PMCID: PMC4270108.

[7] Lopresti AL, Smith SJ, Malvi H, Kodgule R. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Sep;98(37):e17186. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017186. PMID: 31517876; PMCID: PMC6750292.

[8] Cheah KL, Norhayati MN, Husniati Yaacob L, Abdul Rahman R. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2021 Sep 24;16(9):e0257843. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0257843. PMID: 34559859; PMCID: PMC8462692.

[9] Ghazizadeh J, Sadigh-Eteghad S, Marx W, Fakhari A, Hamedeyazdan S, Torbati M, Taheri-Tarighi S, Araj-Khodaei M, Mirghafourvand M. The effects of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) on depression and anxiety in clinical trials: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytother Res. 2021 Dec;35(12):6690-6705. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7252. Epub 2021 Aug 27. PMID: 34449930.

[10] Heydari N, Dehghani M, Emamghoreishi M, Akbarzadeh M. Effect of Melissa officinalis capsule on the mental health of female adolescents with premenstrual syndrome: a clinical trial study. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2018 Jan 25;31(3):/j/ijamh.2019.31.issue-3/ijamh-2017-0015/ijamh-2017-0015.xml. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2017-0015. PMID: 29369810.

[11] Kofman O, Einat H, Cohen H, Tenne H, Shoshana C. The anxiolytic effect of chronic inositol depends on the baseline level of anxiety. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2000;107(2):241-53. doi: 10.1007/s007020050020. PMID: 10847563.

[12] Palatnik A, Frolov K, Fux M, Benjamin J. Double-blind, controlled, crossover trial of inositol versus fluvoxamine for the treatment of panic disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2001 Jun;21(3):335-9. doi: 10.1097/00004714-200106000-00014. PMID: 11386498.

[13] Noah L, Morel V, Bertin C, Pouteau E, Macian N, Dualé C, Pereira B, Pickering G. Effect of a Combination of Magnesium, B Vitamins, Rhodiola, and Green Tea (L-Theanine) on Chronically Stressed Healthy Individuals-A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 29;14(9):1863. doi: 10.3390/nu14091863. PMID: 35565828; PMCID: PMC9102162.

[14] Savage K, Firth J, Stough C, Sarris J. GABA-modulating phytomedicines for anxiety: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence. Phytother Res. 2018 Jan;32(1):3-18. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5940. Epub 2017 Nov 23. PMID: 29168225.

[15] Fallah M, Askari G, Asemi Z. Is Vitamin D Status Associated with Depression, Anxiety and Sleep Quality in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. Adv Biomed Res. 2020 Jul 27;9:32. doi: 10.4103/abr.abr_188_19. PMID: 33072644; PMCID: PMC7532825.

[16] Field DT, Cracknell RO, Eastwood JR, Scarfe P, Williams CM, Zheng Y, Tavassoli T. High-dose Vitamin B6 supplementation reduces anxiety and strengthens visual surround suppression. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2022 Nov;37(6):e2852. doi: 10.1002/hup.2852. Epub 2022 Jul 19. PMID: 35851507; PMCID: PMC9787829.

[17] Liao Y, Xie B, Zhang H, He Q, Guo L, Subramanieapillai M, Fan B, Lu C, McIntyre RS. Efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs in depression: A meta-analysis. Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Aug 5;9(1):190. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0515-5. Erratum in: Transl Psychiatry. 2021 Sep 7;11(1):465. PMID: 31383846; PMCID: PMC6683166.

[18] Ohio State University. “Omega-3 reduces anxiety and inflammation in healthy students, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2011. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110713121313.htm

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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.