Quick Answer: Best Anxiety Supplements

  1. Magnesium
  2. Arginine
  3. Lavender
  4. Ashwagandha
  5. Kava
  6. Inositol
  7. Passionflower
  8. Lemon Balm
  9. Vitex Agnus – Castus
  10. Agmatine
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According to the reports, 284 million individuals were diagnosed with anxiety disorders in 2017.

Studies also show that anxiety disorders are more common in women than in men.

Before understanding anxiety issues, it is important to know the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress, whereas an anxiety disorder is the chronic form of anxiety that has not been addressed for a long time.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

An anxiety disorder is a chronic condition, which is characterized by recurring intrusive thoughts and feeling of uneasiness coupled with physical symptoms like sweating, palpitations, and tiredness.

When anxiety disorders go undiagnosed or untreated, they may hinder the ability of the patients to function normally, which in turn impacts both their professional and personal lives.

There are different types of anxiety disorders based on the severity:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Attacks
  • Specific Phobias
  • Agoraphobia
  • Selective Mutism
  • Social Anxiety Disorder /Social Phobia
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder
  • Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

There are several factors that trigger anxiety disorders, and these factors should be addressed first in order to successfully treat these disorders and prevent their reoccurrence.

  • Trauma or abuse endured or witnessed in the past
  • Illness-induced stress
  • Being in a stressful environment, may it be work or a relationship
  • Having a family history of anxiety disorders
  • Altered brain chemistry
  • Withdrawal from alcohol and illicit substance

Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are associated with a common set of symptoms.

These symptoms may start to appear during childhood and adolescent years and continue to be seen during the adult years too.

  • Feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and tension
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having palpitations
  • Rapid breathing
  • Intense sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feelings of weakness and tiredness
  • Trouble in falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Having an urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
  • Not being able to stay calm or still
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Treatment Options for Anxiety Disorders

Various treatment options are available for anxiety disorders, and the success entirely depends on patients’ willingness to participate and work on the factors that are triggering the anxiety symptoms.

Often the treatment combines various kinds of therapy and medications.

Self-treatment: Self-treatment works best in the initial stages of anxiety disorders. It helps in addressing the symptoms when they are less severe.

Self-treatment involves efficient stress management, exercising when negative thoughts creep in, practicing relaxation techniques, and networking with positive people.

Psychotherapy and Counseling: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is a part of psychotherapy works on recognizing and altering the intrusive thought patterns and reducing the intensity of the reaction to the anxiety-causing factors.

These sessions may help patients in developing healthy coping mechanisms against stress and anxiety.

Medications/Supplements: Doctors usually prescribe anxiolytic drugs such as alprazolam and clonazepam.

However, anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs are also prescribed in low doses to alleviate social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic attacks.

Supplements like vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and a few medicinal herbs are also studied to reduce anxiety symptoms, have a calming effect on the mind, and promote effective stress management.

Best Anxiety Supplements

Magnesium

Scientific research has confirmed that reduced Magnesium intake causes anxiety disorders.[1]

Magnesium improves the communication between the brain and the body and thereby improves the stress response.

Benefit Confidence: High

Mechanism: Magnesium controls the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis – the center of the stress response and blocks the calcium influx of NMDA glutamatergic receptors; both these mechanisms help in reducing the feelings of anxiety.[2]

Magnesium plays a critical role in regulating neurotransmitters that control the stress response.

Studies have reported that Magnesium intake remarkably reduces the feelings of panic, restlessness, and fear.

Clinical Evidence: Combination of Magnesium and vitamin B6 was studied to be effective in alleviating anxiety-related PMS symptoms. [3]

In a systematic review carried out in 2017, Magnesium alone and in combination with other supplements improved anxiety symptoms in anxiety-vulnerable individuals. [4]

A randomized study in 2017 found that daily supplementation of 248mg elemental Magnesium improved the symptoms of anxiety and depression in 6 weeks. [5]

Recommended Intake: For women, 310-320mg Magnesium is recommended and for men, it is 400-420mg magnesium daily. Pregnant women can take up to 360mg of magnesium per day.

Precautions: Magnesium interacts with antibiotics, antihypertensive drugs, and diabetic medications.

Magnesium may act as a mild sedative; therefore, it is better to take Magnesium supplements before bed.

Arginine

The combination of L-arginine and L-lysine is effective in the treatment of anxiety and its cause – stress.

This combination largely helps in the treatment of state and trait anxiety, which is a temporary form of anxiety.

Benefit Confidence: High

Mechanism: L-arginine and L-lysine combination calms down the anxiety symptoms by modifying the hormonal response to stress. Lysine regulates the serotonin levels by blocking serotonin reuptake in the synapse.[6]

It also increases GABA levels in the brain. [7]

Clinical Evidence: A 3-month randomized study in 2004 found that Lysine supplementation helped in alleviating the symptoms of chronic anxiety and stress response. [8]

Administration of L-arginine and L-lysine (3g/day each) modified the stress response and reduced anxiety in healthy subjects with high trait anxiety. [9]

In 2007, it was found that a week-long oral supplementation of L-arginine and L-lysine (2.64g/day) reduced the levels of salivary cortisol and significantly controlled the state and trait anxiety. [10]

Recommended Intake: Take 1.25g of L-arginine along with 1.25g of L-lysine twice daily.

Precautions: L-arginine interacts anti-hypertensive drugs, nitrates, and sildenafil. L-lysine increases calcium absorption.

Lavender

Lavender oil treatment is one of the best remedies for anxiety alleviation.

It promotes relaxation, calms the brain, has a positive effect on the mood, and reduces sleep deprivation.

Aromatherapy with Lavender oil lessens anxiety symptoms and induces positivity in patients who are undergoing or about to undergo medical treatments.

Benefit Confidence: High

Mechanism: Lavender’s anxiolytic properties come from its ability to enhance the expression of GABA-A receptors and block glutamate binding [11] and acetylcholine release in the brain. [12] [13]

It exhibits no sedative effects like other anxiolytic drugs and does not cause any dependency and withdrawal symptoms. [14]

Clinical Evidence: A study in 2009 found that oral consumption of Lavender helped in treating low anxiety conditions. [15]

In 2010, a study found that Silexan, an oral Lavender oil preparation, helped in ameliorating GAD symptoms such as persistent worrying, nervousness, and insomnia.

It was found to be a safer alternative to lorazepam and benzodiazepines in terms of efficacy and safety. [16]

Aromatherapy with Lavender oil has been proven to help ICU patients, dental patients, and postpartum women in reducing the anxiety symptoms and uplifting the mood. [17] [18] [19]

Recommended Intake: Take 80g of Silexan once a day, preferably before breakfast.

Precautions: Avoid taking Lavender along with sleep-inducing medications and anti-depressants.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha improves stress tolerance and has a soothing effect on anxiety symptoms. It also exhibits potent neuroprotective activity and an ability to enhance cognitive functions.

Ashwagandha is found to be extremely helpful in treating social anxiety.

Benefit Confidence: High

Mechanism: Ashwagandha exhibits strong adaptogenic properties which aid in reducing the cortisol levels, blocking the stress pathways, and bringing down the incidences of anxiety disorders. [20] [21]

Clinical Evidence: A 60-day study conducted on individuals with chronic stress found that Ashwagandha was able to reduce anxiety and insomnia by 69% in comparison with the placebo group which reported an 11% reduction. [22]

A good number of human trials have shown that Ashwagandha not only reduces the anxiety symptoms but also prevents negative stress response, which causes anxiety. [23] [24] [25]

A study in 2017 reported that Ashwagandha reduced food cravings, serum cholesterol, body weight, BMI, and overall stress in individuals with chronic stress.[26]

Recommended Intake: Take 300-500mg of Ashwagandha every day with meals for 6-12 weeks.

Precautions: Ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels; therefore, women may have to consult a health professional before going for higher doses of Ashwagandha.

Kava

Kava exhibits strong sedative properties along with a calming effect on the brain.

It also helps in inducing sleep in patients suffering from sleep-deprivation and other serious forms of anxiety.

Benefit Confidence: Moderate

Mechanism: The binding of kavalactones (active constituents of Kava) to γ-Aminobutyric acid type A receptors (GABAARs) is assumed to be responsible for the anxiolytic properties of Kava. [27]

It uses an array of mechanisms – calcium channel blocking, GABA receptor modulation, inhibition of monoamine oxidase B and cyclooxygenase, dopamine reuptake modulation, etc. [28]

Clinical Evidence: Multiple studies have reported on Kava serving as an effective treatment option for GAD, agoraphobia, and specific phobias. [29] [30]

A meta-analytical study carried out in 2018 reported that 11 out of 12 trials demonstrated mild anxiolytic properties of Kava against GAD. [31]

Recommended Intake: Take 70mg of kavalactones three times a day (210mg/day). You should not take more than 250mg of Kava per day. [32] It need not be taken with meals.

Precautions: There are few reports that link Kava supplementation to liver injury; there is no solid evidence for this, however.

It also interacts with anxiolytic and anti-depressant medications.

Individuals who drive vehicles or handle heavy machinery should be careful with Kava, due to its tendency to cause a hangover. It is also prone to cause dependency risk.

Inositol

Inositol or myo-inositol is responsible for healthy brain functioning, quality sleep, and a healthy mood.

As a supplement, Inositol helps in treating different types of anxiety disorders like panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, and GAD.

Benefit Confidence: Moderate

Mechanism: Inositol improves anxiety symptoms by stimulating serotonin activation within the nerve cells.

Clinical Evidence: Consuming 18g Inositol for a month improved the symptoms of anxiety and agoraphobia and reduced the incidences of panic attacks.

It was found to be a better supplement than fluvoxamine both in terms of efficacy and safety. [33]

Supplementation of 18g Inositol for 6 months was found to help in treating eating disorders and OCD. [34] [35]

Recommended Intake: Take 12-18g of Inositol daily with food for 4-6 weeks.

Precautions: Inositol overdose may cause GI distress.

Passionflower

Passionflower is useful in reducing anxiety symptoms, mainly sleeplessness and nervousness.

Studies have confirmed that Passionflower is extremely helpful in regulating mood and inducing a soothing effect. [36]

Benefit Confidence: Moderate

Mechanism: Passionflower exhibits anxiolytic properties by increasing the GABA levels in the brain. It is reported to decrease anxiety levels and improve cognitive functions. [37]

It is also proven to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Clinical Evidence: A study in 2001 found that Passionflower was as effective as oxazepam (an anxiolytic drug) in the management of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) without any adverse effects. [38]

In 2011, a clinical study found that Passionflower helped in the treatment of sleep disturbance and improved the quality of sleep. [39]

Multiple studies over the years have reported on Passionflower’s anxiolytic effects in different types of anxiety and its ability to induce sleep. [40] [41] [42]

Recommended Intake: Take 400mg of Passionflower extract twice daily for 2-8 weeks. You can also take 45 drops of Passionflower liquid daily for 4 weeks.

Precautions: Passionflower may cause sleepiness and drowsiness due to its sedative properties.

Its side effects include dizziness and confusion. Pregnant women should avoid Passionflower as it triggers uterine contractions.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm exhibits mild sedative properties, which helps in treating anxiety-induced sleep-deprivation. It also helps in soothing the feelings of agitation.

Benefit Confidence: Low

Mechanism: Scientific studies have shown that Lemon balm extract reduces the symptoms of anxiety and induces a soothing effect by increasing the GABA levels in the brain. [43]

Clinical Evidence: 300-600mg of Lemon balm extract was found to increase the self-ratings of calmness, reduce the self-ratings of alertness, and also bring down the negative effects on the mood in healthy individuals. [44]

Lemon balm, in combination with soothing herbs like Lavender, Hops extract, and Valerian, helps in reducing stress and improving the psychophysiological state in both healthy individuals and anxiety patients. [45] [46]

Recommended Intake: Take 300-1200mg of Lemon balm an hour before bed.

Precautions: According to the studies, high doses of Lemon balm leads to increased anxiety and ill mood. [47]

Lemon balm also increases dependency risk and withdrawal symptoms when its consumption is abruptly discontinued. [48]

Vitex Agnus – Castus

Vitex may help in reducing the anxiety issues faced before menstruation, during menstruation, and after the menopause.

There is no sufficient evidence on this herb’s efficacy in men.

Benefit Confidence: Low

Mechanism: Exact mechanism of action employed by Vitex is not known. However, it is believed to reduce anxiety by regulating the levels of dopamine and prolactin. [49]

Clinical Evidence: A few studies have reported that Vitex helps in alleviating PMS-related anxiety without any adverse effects. [50] [51]

Recommended Intake: Take 150-200mg Vitex powder in capsule form twice or 3-5ml in tincture form daily along with food.

Precautions: There is no sufficient information on Vitex’s efficacy as an anxiolytic agent.

Therefore, patients shall discuss with a healthcare professional before using Vitex supplements for anxiety disorders.

Agmatine

Agmatine is a neuromodulator with stress-alleviating properties. It is derived from arginine. Agmatine may help in reducing the severity of anxiety and depression.

Benefit Confidence: Low

Mechanism: Agmatine works by regulating calcium overloading and decreasing the levels of stress hormones and adenylate cyclase, all of which are associated with anxiety and depression. [52] [53]

Clinical Evidence: Animal studies have reported that Agmatine helped in improving social interactions [54] and alleviating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.[55]

Recommended Intake: There is no standardized dose set for Agmatine. Patients may take 1.62mg/kg/day of Agmatine approximately.

Precautions: There are no human studies conducted on Agmatine. Agmatine’s overdose aggravates anxiety.

Therefore, patients are suggested to discuss with a health professional before using Agmatine supplements.

Supplements Not Recommended for Anxiety

Nicotine: Nicotine also helps in reducing anxiety in the initial stages.

But, nicotine leads to dependency risk, which eventually causes serious health problems like lung cancer, oral cancer, erectile dysfunction, infertility, etc.

Avoiding nicotine usage is a must for effective anxiety management.

Yohimbine: Yohimbine is an herbal supplement that helps in weight management and erectile dysfunction treatment.

Yohimbine triggers anxiety, and therefore, individuals with anxiety should avoid it.

Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant, and it aggravates the existing anxiety symptoms. Therefore, individuals with anxiety should avoid caffeine.

Supplement Stack

Core supplement of this stack would be Magnesium. Taking 300-420mg of Magnesium daily will help with the Mg deficiency-induced anxiety.

You can also get your daily Magnesium from foods like green vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and seafood.

You can alter your stack with the following supplements. However, if you have a Magnesium deficiency, it has to be addressed before you start using other supplements.

For individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Start with Magnesium for the first two weeks. Then, you can add 80mg/day silexan(lavender) and 70mg Kava three times a day.

For individuals with accumulated stress-induced anxiety: After addressing Magnesium deficiency, take 300-500mg Ashwagandha root powder daily once.

Ashwagandha may cause insomnia and therefore, it must be avoided in the evening.

For individuals with panic-related anxiety: Take 12-18g Inositol daily until the severity of the symptoms is reduced.

For individuals with anxiety-induced sleep deprivation: You can take Lemon balm (300-600mg) or Melatonin (0.5-5mg) 30-60 minutes before bed.

FAQs

Can Eating Chocolate help me with my Anxiety?

Yes, chocolate can help in reducing anxiety. According to the studies, dark chocolate helps in reducing the anxiety symptoms by boosting the serotonin levels in the brain. [56]

Cocoa flavanols present in chocolate are excellent antioxidants.[57] Eating dark chocolate on a regular basis may help in controlling the levels of stress hormones – catecholamines and cortisol. [58]

However, you need to be careful, as chocolate is rich in fats you may end up gaining unnecessary weight if you overeat.

Should I stop using Stimulants if I have Anxiety?

Yes, it is better to stop using stimulants if you are suffering from anxiety issues.

Stimulants increase brain activity, which aggravates anxiety symptoms. Some of the stimulants that you need to stay away from are caffeine (tea, coffee, soda), carbonated drinks and nicotine.

Can Yoga Alleviate Anxiety?

Performing yoga regularly is proven to improve anxiety symptoms.[59] Yoga is a multicomponent behavioral practice, which involves deep relaxation, breath regulation, muscle stretching, and meditation. [60] [61]

Yoga positively impacts brain functions, improves thinking and thought-processing, and boosts cognitive functions.

Yoga helps in alleviating anxiety symptoms such as sleeplessness, lack of concentration, restlessness, feelings of agitation and worries, etc.

What are some of the best Coping Strategies to Reduce Anxiety?

Some of the effective coping strategies to help with anxiety issues include:

  • Modifying your diet with unprocessed foods, fermented foods, healthy fats, and probiotics
  • Quitting smoking and alcohol drinking
  • Keeping yourself physically active with the help of exercises and yoga
  • Getting in touch with nature with a quiet walk, gardening activities or a trekking trip

Does Food have any Role in Reducing Anxiety Issues?

Yes, food plays a significant role in anxiety reactions. Certain foods like caffeine, sugary beverages, processed foods, etc. increase anxiety by exciting the brain.

On the other hand, foods like complex carbohydrates, meat, fish, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, help in reducing the anxiety symptoms. [62] [63] [64]

If you are actively working on your anxiety issues, food is one of the key areas.

Is my Anxiety Disorder Reversible?

That’s a debatable question. Anxiety disorders mostly grow when you feed them.

Anxiety is merely a response to stress. Addressing this stress and its cause is one of the best ways to treat anxiety disorders.

Having foods that help in alleviating the anxiety symptoms and keeping you calm, keeping yourself active, having positive thoughts and visiting a therapist as and when necessary, are few things you can do treat your anxiety disorder and control its symptoms.

Can I alter my Supplement Stack with new Supplements?

You can alter your supplement stack with new ones. Before doing that, you should consider a few factors like drug interactions, your existing medical conditions, overdose effects, etc.

If two supplements in your stack exhibit synergistic functions, then you must consider lowering their doses.

Final Words

Currently used anxiolytic medications cause multiple side effects. This makes alternate medication, which is being proven to be both safe and effective, a viable option.

Sadly today, only 33% of the patients who are diagnosed with anxiety, undergo necessary treatments.

Anxiety disorders are not worth ignoring, as these lead to multiple mental and physical complications.

Choosing the right treatment options and right supplements will not only help you in reducing anxiety symptoms but also help in controlling your stress and negative emotions. All you need is – one step in the right direction.

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