More attention has been directed in recent years toward how nutrition can affect mental health, including anxiety. We now take a look at how nutrition can play into the symptoms of anxiety, and we discuss some supplements with the potential to mitigate these symptoms.
Alternative Remedies for Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders around. In fact, roughly 33% of individuals are estimated to experience the symptoms of an anxiety disorder at some point in life. This can include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), separation anxiety, and others.
The standard treatments for anxiety symptoms are talk therapy and medications, such as antidepressants. However, about 50% of those who use first-line medications do not see any improvement in their symptoms. In turn, roughly 40% of those who experience mental distress like anxiety will try alternative medicine approaches, such as supplements.
Various supplements have the potential to help those with anxiety. A personalized approach is necessary when choosing those which would be effective for an individual. A dietary supplement is not meant to be a stand-alone treatment for anxiety, but rather a contribution to a holistic approach to treatment. Supplements are most likely to help individuals with anxiety if they have a nutrient deficiency, have only mild & occasional symptoms, haven’t responded to other therapies, and are resistant to taking medication.
Supplements That Could Help Anxiety
Nature provides us with substances that can improve mental well-being. Here are some natural supplements that could work to mitigate anxiety and its symptoms.
Valerian root is an herb with a long history as a natural remedy. It produces a calming effect on the body, which can help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. It works by fostering the production of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) in the body, a calming neurochemical. Taking a few hundred milligrams of valerian during the day is recommended to reduce anxiety symptoms. Taking a slightly higher dose in the evening can help relieve anxiety and prepare you for sleep. Valerian is often found in natural relaxant supplements with a combination of other natural calming ingredients. It is most effective when taken consistently.
Melatonin is a neurochemical related to sleep, and is often taken in supplement form to improve sleep quality. However, it has a more specific application, in that it could actually reduce the symptoms of anxiety in the evening time which can hinder sleep. Melatonin is highly recommended for those who experienced both insomnia and anxiety.
L-theanine is an amino acid which, when taken in supplement form, can lower anxiety and stress in some people. It does so by lowering the release of cortisol, a neurochemical related to feelings of stress.
Magnesium is a mineral which can affect anxiety in some people. When taken alongside other healthy minerals and vitamins, magnesium can help ease anxiety in some people. Those most likely to benefit would be adults who are experiencing stress, as well as those with type II diabetes and heart disease. It could be especially helpful for those who are deficient in magnesium, which many Americans are.
Ashwagandha is an herb which can contribute to a reduction in anxiety. This is because it can improve stress levels as well as your ability to respond to stress.
Vitamin B6 is involved in many important interactions in the body. At least one large study shows that supplementing with vitamin B6 corresponds with reduced anxiety when taken consistently for at least a month. Vitamin B6 is commonly found in dietary supplements in a form known as pyridoxine.
If you or a family member experience the symptoms of anxiety, or are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, then the natural supplements discussed above are worth considering. Some of these could have interactions with other medications, so it’s recommended that you talk to your healthcare provider before taking any of these and making them a part of your daily regimen.