Find a complete guide to the best natural supplements for anxiety and how to use each.

The Best Supplements for Anxiety

Last modified on October 24th, 2023

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by intense feelings of fear, worry, and apprehension. These feelings can be persistent and overwhelming, making it difficult for individuals to function daily. Anxiety disorders affect millions worldwide and can be debilitating if left untreated.

Symptoms of anxiety can vary from person to person, but some common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Restlessness or feeling on edge
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea or gastrointestinal problems
  • Avoidance of certain situations or places
  • Irritability or agitation

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is characterized by excessive worry and anxiety about a wide range of everyday issues, such as work, health, finances, and relationships.
  • Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is marked by sudden and unexpected panic attacks, which are episodes of intense fear or discomfort accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, sweating, and trembling.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a condition characterized by intense fear and anxiety in social situations, such as public speaking or meeting new people.
  • Specific Phobias: Specific phobias are intense and irrational fears of particular objects or situations, such as heights, spiders, or flying.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that are difficult to control, such as excessive cleaning, checking, or counting.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, assault, or military combat.

What Medicines Are Used to Treat Anxiety?

Here are several types of medications that are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders, including:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs are a class of antidepressant medications that can also effectively treat anxiety disorders. They work by increasing serotonin levels, which can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety. Examples of SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and escitalopram (Lexapro).
  • Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that can be used to treat anxiety disorders. However, they are generally reserved for short-term use due to their potential for addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines enhance the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which can help reduce anxiety. Examples of benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and lorazepam (Ativan).
  • Buspirone: Buspirone is a medication for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It works by increasing the activity of serotonin, which can help reduce anxiety. Buspirone is less sedating than benzodiazepines and has a lower risk of addiction.
  • Beta Blockers: Beta blockers are a class of medications typically used to treat high blood pressure. However, they can also effectively reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat and trembling. Examples of beta blockers include propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin).

Like all medications, these drugs can have side effects. Some common side effects of SSRIs include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and sexual dysfunction. Benzodiazepines can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and memory problems, and Buspirone can cause dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Beta-blockers can cause fatigue, dizziness, and cold hands and feet. In rare cases, these medications can also cause more serious side effects, such as suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

What Supplement Is Best For Anxiety?

Below, we cover in more detail the best supplements for anxiety. 

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a traditional herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, which has been gaining attention in recent years for its potential benefits for mental health. In particular, ashwagandha has been studied for its ability to reduce anxiety symptoms.

Several studies have shown that ashwagandha can help reduce anxiety levels in people with diagnosed anxiety disorders. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that participants who took ashwagandha for 60 days had significantly reduced anxiety symptoms compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ashwagandha effectively reduced anxiety and improved the quality of life in people with generalized anxiety disorder.

There are several ways that ashwagandha may work to reduce anxiety. One theory is that it may help regulate levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can be elevated in people with chronic stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce anxiety and improve mood.

In addition to its potential benefits for anxiety, ashwagandha has been studied for its effects on other aspects of mental health, including depression, sleep, and cognitive function. It may also have benefits for physical health, such as reducing inflammation and improving immune function.

Ashwagandha is one of the best natural supplements for anxiety, and it's an adaptogen

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that benefit human health, particularly the digestive system. Recent research has also suggested that probiotics may benefit mental health, including anxiety.

The gut microbiome, the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive system, has been increasingly recognized as an important factor in mental health. The gut is sometimes called the “second brain” because of the complex communication between the gut and the central nervous system. Probiotics can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn may have positive effects on mental health.

Several studies have investigated the effects of probiotics on anxiety. For example, a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that participants who took a probiotic supplement for four weeks had reduced anxiety levels compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the journal Psychiatry Research found that participants who consumed a probiotic yogurt for four weeks had reduced levels of anxiety and depression compared to those who consumed a placebo yogurt.

In addition to its potential benefits for anxiety, probiotics have been studied for their effects on other mental and physical health aspects. They may help improve digestive health, boost immune function, and reduce inflammation.

Probiotics are a natural way to lower anxiety and boost mood.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in many bodily functions, including the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters regulate mood and emotions, and low levels of vitamin B6 have been linked to anxiety and depression.

Research has suggested that vitamin B6 may have potential benefits for anxiety and other aspects of mental health. For example, a study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found that participants who took a high dose of vitamin B6 for five weeks had reduced anxiety levels compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that vitamin B6 supplementation effectively reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in women with premenstrual syndrome.

Vitamin B6 is a natural supplement for anxiety and it can also improve mood and overall mental health.

Lavender

Lavender is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its calming and relaxing properties. In recent years, lavender supplements have become a natural remedy for anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Several studies have investigated the effects of lavender supplements on anxiety. For example, a study published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice found that participants who took a lavender supplement for six weeks significantly reduced anxiety symptoms compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that lavender supplementation improved anxiety and sleep quality in people with anxiety disorder.

Lavender is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system by increasing levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and anxiety. It may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body linked to the development of anxiety and other mental health conditions.

In addition to its potential benefits for anxiety, lavender has been studied for its effects on other mental and physical health aspects. It may help improve sleep quality, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain.

Lavender as a natural supplement has a calming and anti-anxiety effect.

GABA

Gamma-aminobutyric acid, commonly known as GABA, is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating the nervous system and reducing anxiety. GABA supplements are believed to have potential benefits for people who struggle with anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Research has suggested that GABA supplements may have potential benefits for anxiety. For example, a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that participants who took a GABA supplement significantly reduced anxiety symptoms compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that GABA supplementation effectively reduced anxiety and insomnia symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder.

GABA is an excellent supplement to treat anxiety naturally.

L-Theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid commonly found in tea leaves, particularly in green tea. It is known for its calming and relaxing effects on the mind and body, making it a popular natural remedy for anxiety.

Research has suggested that L-theanine supplements may have potential benefits for anxiety. For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that participants who took an L-theanine supplement had reduced anxiety symptoms compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that L-theanine supplementation improved cognitive performance and reduced stress in healthy young adults.

L-theanine is believed to work by increasing levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and anxiety. It may also stimulate the production of brain alpha waves associated with relaxation and stress reduction.

Theanine is a supplement that can ease anxiety symptoms naturally.

Saffron

Saffron is a spice commonly used in cooking, but it also has potential benefits for mental health. In particular, research has suggested that saffron may benefit anxiety.

A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that participants who took a saffron supplement for six weeks significantly reduced anxiety symptoms compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that saffron supplementation was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with major depressive disorder.

Saffron is believed to work by increasing serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and anxiety. It may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body linked to the development of anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Saffron is a natural mood booster and can help reduce anxiety levels.

5-HTP

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a naturally occurring amino acid that is converted into serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep and is known to play a role in anxiety and depression.

Research has suggested that 5-HTP supplements may have potential benefits for anxiety. For example, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that participants who took a 5-HTP supplement for six weeks had significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that 5-HTP supplementation effectively reduced anxiety symptoms in people with panic disorder.

5-HTP is believed to work by increasing serotonin levels, which can help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. It may also have other potential mental and physical health benefits, including improved sleep quality, reduced pain, and decreased appetite.

5-HTP is a powerful supplement to raise serotonin naturally and as a result, it has anti-anxiety benefits.

Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium is an essential mineral crucial in many bodily functions, including nerve function, muscle contraction, and bone health. It’s also believed to have potential benefits for mental health, including anxiety.

Magnesium glycinate is a form of magnesium known for its high bioavailability, meaning that it’s easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Research has suggested that magnesium glycinate supplements may have potential benefits for anxiety.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that participants who took a magnesium glycinate supplement for six weeks significantly reduced anxiety symptoms compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that magnesium supplementation improved mood and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in women with premenstrual syndrome.

Magnesium is believed to work by regulating levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and anxiety. It may also help reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to the development of anxiety and other mental health conditions.

In addition to its potential benefits for anxiety, magnesium glycinate has been studied for its effects on other mental and physical health aspects. It may help improve sleep quality, reduce muscle cramps, and support heart health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fatty acids are a type of essential nutrient that the body needs for many different functions, including brain health and development. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, in particular, have been studied for their potential benefits for anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish such as salmon and in certain nuts and seeds, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce anxiety symptoms. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that omega-3 supplementation effectively reduced anxiety symptoms in people with clinical anxiety disorders. Other research has suggested that omega-3 supplementation may help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

Omega-6 fatty acids, found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, may also have potential benefits for anxiety. However, research on the effects of omega-6 on mental health is mixed, with some studies suggesting that high levels of omega-6 intake may be linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health and can be a powerful way to reduce anxiety naturally.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and play a vital role in many bodily functions, including regulating mood and anxiety. Several amino acids, in particular, have been studied for their potential benefits for anxiety.

L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and has been shown to have potential benefits for anxiety. Research suggests that L-theanine may help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety by increasing neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine levels. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that L-theanine supplementation effectively reduced anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder.

Tryptophan is another amino acid studied for its potential benefits for anxiety. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that tryptophan supplementation effectively reduced symptoms of social anxiety disorder.

Glycine is an amino acid shown to have potential benefits for anxiety by regulating levels of glutamate, and this excitatory neurotransmitter can contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that glycine supplementation effectively reduced symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Amino acids are important for brain and mental health and can help naturally reduce anxiety.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, is a herb that has been used for centuries for its calming and mood-boosting effects. Lemon balm may have potential benefits for anxiety.

Lemon balm contains compounds such as rosmarinic acid and eugenol, which have been shown to have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that lemon balm supplementation effectively reduced anxiety symptoms and improved people with mild to moderate anxiety disorders.

Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that a combination of lemon balm and valerian root effectively reduced anxiety symptoms and sleep disturbances in people with generalized anxiety disorder.

Lemon balm is also believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system, which can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that lemon balm aromatherapy effectively reduced anxiety symptoms and improved mood in a group of healthy volunteers.

Lemon balm natural lowers anxiety levels and has a generally calming and soothing effect.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola, also known as Rhodiola rosea, is a herb used for centuries in traditional medicine to improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance cognitive function. Research has shown that Rhodiola may have potential benefits for anxiety.

Rhodiola contains compounds known as adaptogens, which are believed to help the body adapt to stress and promote balance in the nervous system. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that rhodiola supplementation effectively reduced symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and improved mood in people with mild to moderate anxiety.

Another study published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry found that rhodiola supplementation effectively reduced stress and anxiety symptoms in people with stress-related burnout.

Rhodiola is also believed to positively affect neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood and anxiety. A study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that rhodiola supplementation was effective in improving symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with mild to moderate depression.

Rhodiola rosea is a calming herb used for anxiety and as a mood-booster.

Valerian

Valerian root, also known as Valeriana officinalis, is a herb used for centuries for its calming and soothing effects. Research has shown that valerian may have potential benefits for anxiety.

Valerian contains compounds known as valerenic acid and valproate, which are believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that a combination of valerian and lemon balm effectively reduced anxiety symptoms and disturbances in people with generalized anxiety disorder.

Another study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that valerian supplementation effectively reduced anxiety symptoms and improved sleep quality in women going through menopause.

Valerian is believed to work by increasing the availability of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is involved in regulating anxiety and promoting relaxation. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that valerian supplementation effectively increased GABA levels and reduced anxiety symptoms in healthy volunteers.

Valerian is a calming herb that can be used as a natural anxiety supplement.

The Best Supplements for Anxiety- Final Thoughts 

Several supplements have shown potential benefits for managing anxiety and stress.

These include herbal remedies such as ashwagandha, valerian, lavender, and Rhodiola and vitamins such as magnesium, B6, and fatty acids. Amino acids like GABA and L-theanine may also positively impact levels.

It’s important to note that while supplements may relieve symptoms, they should not be used as a substitute for professional medical treatment.

It’s always recommended to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure safety and appropriate dosage.

Overall, a holistic approach to managing stress and anxiety, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress-reducing practices like mindfulness or therapy, is likely the most effective way to achieve long-term benefits.

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