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Anxiety Supplements – The Unbiased Scientific Truth, Evidence-Based Health Benefits (Vitamins, Nutritional, Herbal, and other Dietary Supplements)

Anxiety Supplements – The Unbiased Scientific Truth, Evidence-Based Health Benefits (Vitamins, Nutritional, Herbal, and other Dietary Supplements)

A comprehensive review and scientific look at anxiety supplements, herbal and other dietary options.

supplements for anxiety

Research has suggested that various dietary supplements — including vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and herbal remedies — may help relieve the symptoms of anxiety. Photo (Shutterstock)

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

 

Introduction

Anxiety disorders constitute one of the most common mental health problems in the developed world. They are a source of significant economic burden on our society because they impede our workforce productivity.

Many treatment options can help patients suffering from these disorders. Both prescription meds and herbal & dietary therapies can be employed to treat these disorders.

Different patients respond to different treatment strategies. Prescription drugs can successfully treat anxiety in a lot of patients, though some of them continue to suffer.

The field of complementary and alternative medicine has expanded its scope over the last few years.

Studies have shown that up to 43% of patients treated in primary care settings for anxiety disorders have tried complementary and alternative medical techniques to get relief from their symptoms.[1]

More than 1 in 2 adults utilize some form of complementary and alternative medical treatments in the United States.[2] These treatments mostly take the form of herbal remedies or dietary supplements.

We must take into consideration that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations do not apply to these products. Therefore, these products do not undergo as vigorous scrutiny as FDA approved medications.

Like any other product, they are not without their side effects. They are not suitable for everybody.

Not everybody can take the same dose because dose adjustments may be necessary for patients of advanced age, a substantially higher or lower body mass, or decreased kidney function.

Natural Anxiety Supplements: Do These At-Home Relief Products Work?

Several herbal remedies have been studied as a treatment for anxiety, but more research is needed to understand the risks and benefits.

This article will go over some of the alternative remedies for the treatment of anxiety. It is purely for informational purposes.

If you are thinking of using these products to treat your anxiety disorder, you should have an open discussion with your doctor.

You need to make sure there are no drug-drug interactions with your other medications, and there are no significant side effects that may preclude your use of these products.

So, let us dive in and look at some of these anxiety supplements that may have beneficial effects for anxiety patients.

We can divide them into two broad categories.
 

I – Herbal Therapies

Several herbal therapies have successfully treated anxiety disorders. Manipulation of the neurotransmitter pathway involving gamma-aminobutyric acid is the one critical link behind the success of most of these therapies.

Let us look at some of them:

  •  

    1. Saffron

  • Saffron is derived from the plant Crocus sativus. This plant is heavily cultivated in countries like Iran, India, and Greece. In one clinical trial, saffron was compared to placebo, and the patients in the saffron group had better improvement in their anxiety symptoms.[3]

    In a different trial, patients who were already on medical treatment were given additional saffron versus placebo, and the former group did better.[4]

    It is available as an 88.5 mg capsule, which you can take once daily if appropriate.
     

  • 2. St. John’s Wort

  • St John’s Wort is derived from the plant Hypericum perforatum. It is mostly used for the treatment of major depression. There are no trials that show that St. John’s Wort is useful for the treatment of anxiety without depression.

    However, two clinical trials showed that the use of St John’s Wort in patients with significant depression yielded beneficial secondary effects with a reduction in anxiety as well.[5][6]

    The usual dose is 300 mg, which you can take once daily if appropriate. There is a significant drug interaction with medications that are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which can cause serotonergic syndrome.
     

  • 3. Passion flower

  • Passion flower is derived from the plant Passiflora incarnata. Its effects are generally very mild, and therefore, it is not used in isolation but rather in combination with other herbs.

    It was used in a trial to see if the patients who experienced anxiety before a surgical procedure would have a reduction in their symptoms, and a benefit was seen with its use.[7] The usual dose is 500 mg daily.
     

  • 4. Valerian

  • Valerian has been derived from the plant Valeriana officinalis. Trial data for its efficacy as an anxiolytic has been lacking.

    However, it has been proposed that since it has sedating properties, it may help with anxiety as well. Take one capsule of 500 mg daily if appropriate.
     

  • 5. Kava-kava

  • Kava-kava is yielded from the plant Piper methysticum. The active ingredients in this herb are called kavalactones, of which 15 different varieties exist.

    Kava Kava has anxiety-reducing properties, but it causes significant liver damage, and alcoholics and patients with underlying liver disease should avoid its use. Take one capsule of 250 mg daily if appropriate.
     

  • 6. Chamomile

  • Chamomile is obtained from the plant Matricaria recutita. It is one of the oldest herbs and in use for thousands of years.

    A clinical trial compared chamomile extract with placebo in patients with a generalized anxiety disorder, and a benefit was shown.8 Take one capsule of 700 mg daily if appropriate.
     

  • 7. Keenmind

  • Keenmind is yielded from the plant Bacopa monniera. There is a clinical study that showed it had clinically significant anxiety-reducing properties in a subset of patients.

    Besides, it also enhanced the speed of new information processing, verbal learning rate, and memory consolidation. Take one capsule of 320 mg daily if appropriate.[9]
     

  • 8. Rhodiola

  • Rhodiola is derived from the plant Rhodiola Rosea. In a clinical trial that enrolled patients between the ages of 34 and 55, significant improvement in anxiety symptoms occurred with the use of this herb.

    Some adverse effects noted were dizziness and dry mouth. Take one 500 mg capsule daily if appropriate.[10]
     

  • 9. Scullcup

  • This herb is derived from Scutellaria lateriflora. It has shown anxiety-reducing benefits in a clinical trial too.[11] Take 850 mg daily if appropriate.
     

  • 10. Silexan

  • Silexan is a new oral lavender oil capsule preparation. It was studied in a clinical study in which the participants took six weeks of silexan compared to a common anxiety medication lorazepam.

    After six weeks, silexan effectively reduced generalized anxiety as compared to lorazepam. The reason it is crucial is that lorazepam has a high incidence of causing sedation and a high potential for drug abuse and cannot be taken for a prolonged period.

    You can take one soft-gel of silexan 80 mg daily if desired.[12]
     

  • 11. Lemon Balm

  • Lemon balm is derived from Melissa officinalis leaf extract. A clinical trial using lemon balm looked at a primary outcome measure of the reduction in heart palpitations, and a secondary outcome measure of the decrease in anxiety showed a promising effect of reducing the anxiety score.[13] Take 500 mg once daily if desired.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKEStress Support is a formula made with both modern and traditional ingredients that is designed to support a healthy response to stress. *Note – It is not intended to treat clinical depression or anxiety disorders.

 

    II – Natural Vitamins and Dietary Supplements for Anxiety

    Some of the most common natural vitamins for anxiety include:

  •  

    1. Omega-3 fatty acids

  • These are found in fish oil. There have been several clinical trials that have established the anxiety-reducing effects of these supplements.

    Most available formulations contain two different fatty acids EPA and DHA packaged together. You can take one capsule daily if desired.
     

  • 2. Vitamins A, C, and E

  • All these vitamins share the characteristic that they all have antioxidant properties. A clinical trial enrolled patients with stress-induced psychiatric disorders, mainly anxiety and depression. All these patients had reduced blood levels of Vitamins A, C, and E. They were then given vitamin supplements to bring their blood levels up, which also improved anxiety symptoms.[14]

    Multivitamin tablets usually contain all these vitamins. You can take one daily if desired.
     

  • 3. L-lysine and L-arginine

  • These essential amino acids have been shown to improve anxiety symptoms. In two different clinical trials, treatment with these amino acids decreased the symptoms of anxiety in patients who had high levels of baseline anxiety.[15][16]

    Both of these are present together in amino acid supplement pills. Take once daily if desired.
     

  • 4. Vitamin B6 and Folate

  • Vitamin B levels are essential for the creation of serotonin neurotransmitters, which play a crucial role in signal transmission in the central nervous system. In a clinical study, decreased levels of vitamin B6 and folate caused increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Therefore, increasing their blood levels with supplementation can have beneficial effects.[17]

    Multivitamin tablets usually contain all these vitamins. You can take one daily if desired.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it safe to take L-theanine for anxiety?

A: The data concerning L-theanine and anxiety is not very robust. L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea (Camellia sinensis). Some published data has suggested that if taken in doses of 200 to 400 mg daily for up to 8 weeks, anxiety reduction and stress reduction effects were observed. However, more studies are necessary to confirm this association. It is available in 200 mg capsules. Take one daily if desired.

Q: Is Magnesium good for anxiety?

A: There have been case reports showing beneficial effects of magnesium in anxiety reduction, but more studies are needed for confirmation. You can take one capsule of 500 mg of magnesium oxide daily if desired.

Q: Can probiotics take the edge off anxiety?

A: Probiotics have shown beneficial effects in reducing anxiety and depressive behaviors in experimental animals but in humans this effect did not reach the threshold of clinical significance. One capsule daily can be taken if desired.

Q: Do supplements really work for anxiety?

A: Many supplements have been shown to have beneficial effects in anxiety, however the evidence is mostly low-grade. Better, more powerful studies are needed for confirmation.

 

The takeaway

As complementary and alternative medicine becomes more accepted by the traditional medical community, natural anxiety supplements, including vitamins for anxiety and stress, can help mitigate the difficulties of mental health disorders.

Before taking any natural supplements, talk with a doctor. People should not stop taking anxiety medications without a doctor’s approval.

*Disclaimer: Health Insiders aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.

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References

Health Insiders uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

1. Use of complementary and alternative medicine in a large sample of anxiety patients. Bystritsky A, Hovav S, Sherbourne C, Stein MB, Rose RD, Campbell-Sills L, Golinelli D, Sullivan G, Craske MG, Roy-Byrne (Psychosomatics. 2012 May;53(3):266-72
2. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. Barnes PM, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin RL
3. Mazidi, M., Shemshian, M., Mousavi, S., Norouzy, A., Kermani, T., Moghiman, T., Sadeghi, A., Mokhber, N., Ghayour-Mobarhan, M., & Ferns, G. A. (2016). A double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in the treatment of anxiety and depression, Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 13(2), 195-199.
4. Crocin, the main active saffron constituent, as an adjunctive treatment in major depressive disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot clinical trial. Talaei A, Hassanpour Moghadam M, Sajadi Tabassi SA, Mohajeri SA J Affect Disord. 2015; 174:51.
5. St. John's wort extract LI160 for the treatment of depression with atypical features - a double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial. Mannel M, Kuhn U, Schmidt U, Ploch M, Murck H J Psychiatr Res. 2010;44(12):760.
6. Volz, H., Murck, H., Kasper, S. et al. St John's wort extract (LI 160) in somatoform disorders: results of a placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology 164, 294–300 (2002).
7. Preoperative oral Passiflora incarnata reduces anxiety in ambulatory surgery patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.AUMovafegh A, Alizadeh R, Hajimohamadi F, Esfehani F, Nejatfar M SOAnesth Analg. 2008 Jun;106(6):1728-32.
8. Amsterdam JD, Li Y, Soeller I, Rockwell K, Mao JJ, Shults J. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009;29(4):378–382. doi:10.1097/JCP.0b013e3181ac935c.
9. Stough,C., Lloyd, .J., Clarke, .J. et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology 156, 481–484 (2001).
10. Alexander Bystritsky, Lauren Kerwin, and Jamie D. Feusner.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Mar 2008.175-180
11. An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers. Wolfson P, Hoffman DL. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2003 Mar-Apr;9(2):74-8.
12. A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Woelk H, Schläfke S Phytomedicine. 2010 Feb;17(2):94-9.
13. Heart palpitation relief with Melissa officinalis leaf extract: double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of efficacy and safety. Alijaniha F, Naseri M, Afsharypuor S, Fallahi F, Noorbala A, Mosaddegh M, Faghihzadeh S, Sadrai S J Ethnopharmacol. 2015; 164:378.
14. Gautam M, Agrawal M, Gautam M, Sharma P, Gautam AS, Gautam S. Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian J Psychiatry 2012; 54:244-7
15. Jenny Hadrévi, Ingibjörg H. Jonsdottir, Per-Anders Jansson, Jan W Eriksson, Anna Sjörs. (2019) Plasma metabolomic patterns in patients with exhaustion disorder. Stress 22:1, pages 17-26.
16. Miro SMRIGA, Toshihiko ANDO, Masahisa AKUTSU, Yasushi FURUKAWA, Kiyoshi MIWA, Yasushi MORINAGA, Oral treatment with L-lysine and L-arginine reduces anxiety and basal cortisol levels in healthy humans, Biomedical Research, 2007, Volume 28, Issue 2, Pages 85-90.
17. Low intake of B-vitamins is associated with poor adolescent mental health and behaviour. Herbison CE, Hickling S, Allen KL, O'Sullivan TA, Robinson M, Bremner AP, Huang RC, Beilin LJ, Mori TA, Oddy WH Prev Med. 2012 Dec;55(6):634-8.
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Kashif J. Piracha, MD, FACP, FASN, FNKF

Kashif J. Piracha, MD, is a Dual Board-Certified Physician in active clinical practice as a hospitalist at Methodist Willowbrook Hospit...

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