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Herbs & Supplements for Anxiety: An In-Depth Guide to Anxiety Supplements

An in-depth guide to the best anxiety supplements, herbs and natural supplements for anxiety and panic attacks backed by professional research. Discover what works...

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The use of herbs and supplements for anxiety has increased drastically over the past two decades.

This increased popularity of supplements has occurred in direct proportion to our growing understanding of how specific herbs and supplements work.

Scientific research has shown over and over again the effectiveness of various plants, herbs and natural supplements to reduce anxiety.

There are herbs and supplements available that have been proven to provide anti-anxiety benefits similar to prescription drugs without the negative side effects

Beyond the research, there are the countless experiences of those who have gained relief from taking an herb or other natural supplement for anxiety, stress and panic attacks.

It seems we are discovering what healers in the Ayurvedic, Chinese medicine and Shamanistic traditions have known for centuries.

Certain plants have an inherent ability to heal us.

These deep healing traditions have taken on a new level and understanding due to our rapid acceleration of knowledge in neuroscience and biology.

This includes our deeper understanding of nutritional supplements and their role in the body.

Natural and man made supplements (including the latest nootropics) can directly affect specific areas of the brain and nervous system.

There are also many (effective) natural options available for those looking for safe alternatives to medication for anxiety.

With an almost endless number of supplements available today that claim to offer a variety of health benefits….

How do we determine…

The herbs and supplements that are actually safe and effective?

The supplements that actually reduce anxiety?

The brands that are the safest to use while offering the highest quality?

In this guide you will find the answers to all of these questions.

You'll discover our favorite supplements and supplement brands. Supplements that have been proven effective through scientific research and personal experience.

The anxiety supplements listed below have helped thousands of people effectively manage or minimize their anxiety – they may be able to help you too!

Disclaimer: Always discuss anxiety treatment options with your healthcare provider before trying any dietary supplements. The information provided is meant for information only and should not be treated as medical advice.

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Trusted Supplement Brands

New supplement companies seem to be popping up all the time, especially on major sites like Amazon.

Seems to be something anyone can do nowadays.

Import some herbs or bulk supplements from China or India, add a fancy label and voila, you now own a supplement company.

While I'm not discounting every new supplement company that has come out, caution needs to be applied when purchasing something you will be taking into your body.

Many of these companies have good intentions and source their products from reputable sources – many do not.

To be safe, it is highly recommended to use trusted brands that source quality ingredients in the right dosages.

Below are the brands that we trust and use. Brands that have a track record for safe, tested, quality ingredients.

If you're ever in doubt on a brand, simply go with one from the list provided below.

In addition, we've also added the actual brand we use for specific supplements.

The bottle pictured for each supplement, is the actual brand that we use and have found to work the best.

BRANDS WE USE AND TRUST

ADVICE BEFORE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS

The primary goal for taking supplements is balance. Find what works for you in the minimum viable dosage.

Begin by trying one supplement, giving it time, and see how it works for you.

Trying many supplements at once is never a good idea and can actually do more harm than good.

By trying one supplement at a time you can keep the ones that work and eliminate the ones that don't or that cause unwanted side effects.

Taking multiple supplements from the start will make it difficult to determine which one is giving you the most benefit. Be patient, go slowly and shoot for the minimum dosage that works for you.

***Always consult your doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if you are currently taking prescription medications. Even natural supplements can have side effects and/or interfere with current medications***

OUR LIST OF SUPPLEMENTS FOR ANXIETY: ANTI-ANXIETY SUPPLEMENTS

This is an ongoing list that will be updated as research continues and new supplements are released.

The supplements below are listed in no particular order, simply because what may work for one person may have little to no effect on another person.

Everyone's brain and body chemistry is different.

Do not become discouraged if a highly touted anti-anxiety supplement has no beneficial effect for you.

Some supplements take time to build up in the system before any real effects are noticed. You may feel very subtle benefits in the beginning or nothing at all.

It is best to give a new supplement at least a week or two before ruling it out unless you are experiencing negative side effects.

If you experience side effects discontinue use immediately.

**Note: We believe all herbs/supplements should be cycled. Please read the advice given for each supplement about cycling.

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Magnesium

Overview:

Magnesium is one of our most highly recommended supplements for anxiety. Responsible for over 300 mind and body processes, including proper nerve and muscle function, it is essential for overall health. It is believed that 60%-80% of the population is magnesium deficient. Many people have reported a significant reduction or even elimination of anxiety and panic attacks by correcting their magnesium deficiency.

Potential Benefits:

  • improves health (magnesium deficient)
  • decreases anxiety
  • reduces muscular tension
  • reduces the frequency of headaches and migraines
  • promotes proper nerve function
  • promotes proper calcium metabolism

Recommended Forms:

  • Magnesium Glycinate
  • Magnesium Citrate

Possible Side effects:

Side effects are generally few and mild with the most common side effect being stomach upset and/or diarrhea. The type of side effect typically depends on the form of magnesium taken.

GABA

Overview:

GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric Acid), is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and body. It is responsible for reducing neuronal excitability and calming the brain and nervous system, as well as having other functions in the body and organs. GABA levels in the brain have long been linked to anxiety. Most anti-anxiety medications, sleep aids and many herbs and supplements such as Ashwagandha and Kava, act on GABA receptors in some form or another. GABA can also be taken directly as a supplement. Although there is some debate on whether a pure GABA supplement can cross the blood-brain barrier, many people (including myself) find it to be effective.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • very effective for anxiety
  • increases GABA activity in the brain
  • reduces stress
  • decreases inflammation
  • reduces tension
  • promotes physical and mental relaxation  
  • improves sleep
  • can improve focus
  • can offer pain relief by calming nerves

Recommended Forms:

  • GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric Acid)
  • PharmaGABA

Possible Side effects:

GABA is generally safe for most people, but can lower blood pressure in some individuals. GABA shouldn't be taken in combination with other GABA boosting drugs or supplements. Talk to your doctor if you are currently taking any medications as there may be an interaction with GABA.

Recommended Brand & Dosage:

 
Dosage: Dosage varies widely from 200 mg per day to 1500 mg per day. Typically for anxiety; recommended dosage is between 500-1500 mg per day. It may be best to start with a low dose and work your way up to what works best for you.
 
Cycle Usage: We recommend cycling off GABA after 2-3 weeks of continuous use or simply use as needed.

ashwagandha

Overview:

Ashwagandha is an excellent adaptogenic herb primarily used to prevent anxiety and manage stress by lowering cortisol levels. A well researched herb, Ashwagandha has documented studies proving it's many health benefits. It is one of our favorite herbal supplements for managing stress and anxiety and one of our favorite supplements for anxiety overall. It's effect on users is varied. Some find it slightly stimulating, improving the ability to focus, while others find it more relaxing and improving sleep. Ashwagandha can increase both GABA and serotonin in the brain. As with other adaptogens, Ashwagandha can take time to build up in the system (typically at least 1-2 weeks) before full effects are experienced.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • reduces anxiety
  • prevents anxiety  
  • reduces stress
  • lowers cortisol levels
  • neuroprotective (brain protection)
  • lowers cholesterol levels
  • reduces fatigue & improves focus
  • can increase both GABA and serotonin in the brain

Recommended Forms:

  • Sensoril
  • KSM-66
  • a lab tested root extract (such as our favorite below)

Possible Side effects:

Although considered to be a safe herbal supplement it can cause stomach upset in very large doses.

Ashwagandha is known to increase thyroid hormone. Those with thyroid issues should talk to a doctor before using.

Recommended Brand & Dosage:

Ashwagandha is easily one of our favorite anxiety supplements and we've tried just about every brand out there – this one by Pure Encapsulations is our overall favorite. The cost is a little higher but it is the most effective, highest quality, Ashwagandha we've come across so far.
 
 
Dosage: One capsule per day, with or without a meal
 
Cycle Usage: We recommend cycling off Ashwagandha after 4-8 weeks of daily use.

5-HTP

Overview:

5-HTP is the most effective serotonin boosting supplement available. In fact, many supplements and even prescription drugs are compared to 5-HTP for their effectiveness at increasing serotonin levels. Unlike Tryptophan which can convert into other compounds, such as niacin, in the body, 5-HTP's sole function is conversion into serotonin. This gives 5-HTP more powerful mood boosting effects and nearly immediate release of serotonin into the brain and body. If low serotonin is an issue, 5-HTP can be one of the best options available, even rivaling prescription drugs such as SSRIs. It is an extremely powerful and effective supplement for increasing serotonin.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • increases serotonin in the brain
  • decreases anxiety
  • improves symptoms of depression 
  • reduces stress
  • relaxes and calms the mind
  • can be effective for panic attacks
  • regulates the appetite
  • promotes healthy sleep patterns

Recommended Forms:

  • 5-HTP from Griffonia simplicifolia extract
  • combined with B6 (helps the body convert 5htp to serotonin)

Possible Side effects:

5-HTP is a potent serotonin booster and should be treated as such. Side effects can vary. The most common side effects are drowsiness and stomach related issues. Do not combine with other supplements that increase serotonin. Consult your doctor prior to use if you are taking any prescription drugs, especially an SSRI or MAO inhibitor. 5-HTP can lower dopamine and norepinphrine levels in the brain over time. It may be best to take a dopamine boosting supplement like Tyrosine if taking 5-HTP for an extended period of time.

Recommended Brand & Dosage:

 
Dosage:  Normal dosage ranges from 50mg to 300mg per day, divided throughout the day. To begin, try starting with 50mg per day with a meal.
 
Cycle Usage: We do not recommend taking 5-HTP for longer than 6-8 weeks without a break. Users have reported a tolerance when taking for extended periods of time. Long-term daily use can lower dopamine in the brain.

rhodiola rosea

Overview:

Like Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola is an extremely effective “adaptogenic” herb and another one of our favorite herbs for anxiety. It is our favorite herb when dealing with excessive stress, lack of sleep or feeling burnout. Rhodiola Rosea is a popular herbal supplement known for it's ability to reduce stress and fatigue, protect the brain and nervous system (neuroprotective abilities), as a cognitive booster and it's ability to promote healthy adrenal glands (having overworked andrenal glands is known as “burnout” or adrenal fatigue). Rhodiola increases serotonin levels and has been proven effective for stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. It is also one of the few supplements that we know of that can be effective for symptoms of anhedonia.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • increases serotonin in the brain
  • possible MAO inhibitor
  • reduces anxiety
  • improves symptoms of depression 
  • reduces stress
  • reduces fatigue
  • neuroprotective
  • reduces physical symptoms of caffeine and nicotine withdrawal
  • cognitive booster: mental clarity, memory, focus
  • improves mood and feelings of well being

Recommended Forms:

  • Siberian Rhodiola Rosea
  • A 3:1 ratio of Rosavins (3%) and Salidrosides (1%)

Possible Side effects:

Rhodiola is generally safe for most people, with few side effects. Some people have reported feelings of restlessness and excess energy with some forms of Rhodiola but I feel this is due to a poor quality supplement or an improper balance of Rosavins to Salidrosides (see left). However these could be possible side effects for some who are sensitive to this herb.
 
Talk to your doctor before taking if you are currently taking any other medications.

Recommended Brand & Dosage:

Rhodiola is one of my favorite herbal supplements and one of my overall favorite supplements for anxiety. It's also one of the very few herbs I still take today. I have personally tried MANY different brands and forms of Rhodiola and Perfect Supplements is easily my favorite brand. This is also (one of the very few) genuine wild Siberian Rhodiola Rosea supplements.     -Robert

 
Dosage:  Normal dosage ranges from 200mg to 400mg per day. With this supplement we recommend one capsule with breakfast and one with dinner.
 
Cycle Usage: Although not always required, we believe all supplements should be cycled, some at shorter intervals than others. Typically I would only take Rhodiola for a max of 6 weeks before taking a break.

phenibut

Overview:

Phenibut is a powerful anxiolytic supplement primarily used for it's ability to greatly reduce anxiety and stress. It can also provide cognitive benefits. Phenibut may help those with social anxiety. It is known to reduce inhibitions and increase sociability. Phenibut works in connection with GABA receptors in the brain to promote relaxation and a sense of calm. A user's tolerance does build up very quickly and physical as well psychological dependency can occur. Daily supplementation is NOT recommended.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • reduces anxiety and stress
  • increases relaxation
  • reduces inhibitions
  • increases sociability
  • helps to reduce over-active thinking
  • can be effective for social anxiety
  • cognitive improvements such as vocabulary recall
  • promotes a call mind
  • can generate feelings of euphoria at higher doses

Recommended Forms:

  • HCL
  • FAA

Possible Side effects:

We do not recommend Phenibut as a first choice for anxiety relief (there are much safer options) or for daily use. Phenibut HCL should always be used at low/recommended dosages and not more than 1-2 times per week. Side effects as well as dependency seem to increase drastically when using higher than recommended dosages. The most common side effects include headache, lightheadedness, fatigue and stomach upset.

 

Onset Time & Effects:
 
Phenibut has one of the longest onset times (when the effects of the supplement can begin to be felt) of any supplement. Most people do not begin to feel the effects of Phenibut for around 1-2 hours. This is why it is important not to increase your dosage until the next time you use it. The delay in effects may make you believe that it isn't working. The effects also last much longer than most supplements with the strongest effects felt for around 4-5 hours with minor effects felt for longer than that. If you decide to try Phenibut, keep this in mind to plan out your usage accordingly.
Warnings/Interactions:
 
Always stay within the recommended dosage and do not use more than twice per week. Phenibut has a real potential for abuse, dependency and addiction. Those using Phenibut at higher than suggested dosages, have reported dependency and withdrawal symptoms. Phenibut should NOT be used with alcohol, benzodiazepines (xanax, klonopin, valium etc), or other GABA agonists.
Our Take On Phenibut:
We do not recommend Phenibut as a supplement for anxiety. In much the same we do not recommend benzodiazepines unless absolutely necessary. Phenibut has many of the same risks such as physical and psychological dependency and withdrawal. There are many supplements for anxiety that are much safer and just as effective. If you do decide to try Phenibut always use a trusted vendor that performs lab testing on their products.

theanine

Overview:

Theanine is a popular amino acid supplement primarily used to promote relaxation and lower stress levels while improving focus. Theanine is found naturally in specific types of teas. Theanine is a great day-time supplement that doesn't cause drowsiness and has the rare benefit of working synergistically with stimulants like caffeine. Supplementing Theanine with coffee or other stimulants can actually improve focus and energy while reducing jitteriness and nervousness.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • relaxes the mind
  • increases Gaba in the brain
  • promotes Alpha brainwaves
  • improves concentration and learning ability
  • works synergistically with caffeine
  • improves the focus and energy of caffeine and other stimulants while reducing associated nervousness and crash
  • lowers stress

Recommended Forms:

  • Suntheanine is currently the most studied and widely regarded form of Theanine.

Possible Side effects:

Theanine is generally considered safe and side effects are typically mild. The most common side effects are headache and dizziness.

Recommended Brand:
 
 
Dosage: Take 1 capsule once or twice daily on an empty stomach as needed. In addition to Jarrow's Theanine, most brands using Suntheanine are worth trying.
 
Cycle Usage: Although not always required we believe all supplements should be cycled, some at shorter intervals than others.

passionflower

Overview:

Passionflower is a popular herbal supplement used for anxiety, restlessness and to promote a calm state of mind. Typically used in conjunction with other herbs such as lemon balm or valerian root. Passionflower is a great addition to most herbal remedies but works extremely well on it's own. Passionflower is believed to work by increasing GABA in the brain, which tends to promote calm and relaxation making it an effective natural anxiety supplement.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • reduces anxiety
  • increases GABA in the brain
  • reduces restlessness
  • reduces inner tension
  • reduces agitation
  • promotes a calm state of mind
  • effective for social anxiety

Recommended Forms:

  • Passionflower extracts and whole aerial varieties of Passiflora incarnata tend work very well.

Possible Side effects:

Passion flower is a generally well tolerated supplement and side effects are generally mild. Most common reported side effects are dizziness, mild confusion and drowsiness.

Recommended Brand:
 
 
Dosage: take 1 capsule, 1 to 2 times daily as needed
 
Cycle Usage: Although not always required we believe all supplements should be cycled, some at shorter intervals than others.

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n-acetylcysteine (nac)

Overview:

NAC is one of the few supplements on this list not specifically used for anxiety but can offer profound relief from anxiety symptoms. Specifically, NAC can be effective for obsessive thinking, compulsions and OCD. NAC is the Acetyl form of L-Cysteine, the precursor to glutathione, the body's natural antioxidant and detoxifying agent. It can be effective for detoxing heavy metals and other environmental toxins. NAC also supports liver and lung function and offers a wide range of health benefits. Along with Magnesium, NAC is one of our overall favorite daily supplements. It is one of the most effective supplements for those suffering from obsessive thoughts and obsessive behaviors (such as nail biting, or hair pulling), and can be an effective natural anxiety supplement.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • can reduce anxiety
  • helps with obsessive thinking
  • helps support those with OCD and compulsive “tics”
  • increases the bodies production of glutathione an antioxidant
  • supports liver function (removes toxins from the body)
  • supports lung function (possibly beneficial for those with COPD and sleep apnea)
  • reduces irritability
  • possibly beneficial for addiction and withdrawal
  • detoxifies heavy metals and toxins (which can be a cause of anxiety in and of itself)

Recommended Forms:

  • N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) in a quick + sustained release formula

Possible Side effects:

Although generally well tolerated and safe, NAC can cause nausea and upset stomach in some people. It can also stimulate the immune system, which could be good or bad depending on your current medical condition.

NAC can interfere with the absorption of medications. Talk to your doctor before taking NAC if you are currently taking a prescription medication.

Recommended Brand:
 
 
Dosage: take 1 tablet, once or twice daily on an empty stomach
 
Cycle Usage: Although not always required we believe all supplements should be cycled, some at shorter intervals than others.

l-tryptophan

Overview:

Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts into serotonin, melatonin,and niacin in the brain and body. It is primarily used for insomnia and to improve sleep. It can also be effective for anxiety, depression and panic attacks. The fact that Tryptophan converts into other compounds makes it a less reliable serotonin booster than 5-HTP. It is, however, a pretty effective sleep aid. Tryptophan also makes a great daily/long term supplement for those looking to maintain serotonin levels. We recommend 5-HTP over Tryptotphan for increasing serotonin and mood enhancement. We recommend Tryptophan for serotonin maintenance and sleep.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • naturally increases the brain chemicals serotonin and melatonin
  • can be effective for anxiety and panic attacks
  • improves mood and promotes relaxation
  • supports immune function
  • improves sleep quality
  • effective for insomnia
  • can improve depression

Recommended Forms:

  • L-Tryptophan

Possible Side effects:

Tryptophan is generally considered safe. Most common side effects are drowsiness, fatigue, and stomach problems. Talk to your doctor before taking if you are currently taking an SSRI, MAO inhibitor or any other drug or supplement that effects serotonin levels.
Recommended Brand:
 
Dosage:  for anxiety or depression take 1 capsule 3 times a day between meals; for insomnia take 2-3 capsules before bed; for serotonin maintenance take 1-3 capsules daily as needed
 
Cycle Usage: Although not always required we believe all supplements should be cycled, some at shorter intervals than others.

valerian root

Overview:

Valerian is a popular night time herbal supplement commonly used for relaxation and sedation. It is believed to work by enhancing GABA signalling and can be helpful for anxiety, nervousness, relaxation and for falling asleep at the end of the day. It can be a generally effective sleep aid. Valerian can be combined with other herbs, like Passion Flower, to create a more profound effect.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • promotes calm and relaxation
  • can help fall asleep faster
  • enhances GABA signalling in the brain
  • can reduce restlessness and anxiety
  • helpful with insomnia
  • can be combined with other herbs for greater effect

Recommended Forms:

  • Valerian Root

Possible Side effects:

Valerian Root is generally considered safe. The most common side effects are drowsiness, fatigue, sleepiness and strange dreams. Talk to your doctor before taking if you are currently taking a sedative. Do not mix with alcohol.

Recommended Brand:
 
Dosage:  take 2 capsules prior to bedtime
 
Cycle Usage: Although not always required we believe all supplements should be cycled, some at shorter intervals than others.

mucuna pruriens

Overview:

Mucuna Pruriens – also known as Velvet Bean – is a tropical bean who's seeds are commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Mucuna pruriens contains naturally occuring L-Dopa – a direct precursor to dopamine that passes the blood brain barrier. Although dopamine supplements are not typically used for anxiety, Mucuna has been shown to be effective for lowering stress and anxiety for some people. Mucuna can also have a dramatic effect on mood – promoting a more optimistic outlook, greater motivation and improved overall sense of well being. Mucuna can be helpful for scattered thinking, lack of focus and low dopamine levels. Increasing dopamine in the brain can be helpful with social anxiety and depression.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • can be beneficial to those with social anxiety and fear
  • increases dopamine in the brain
  • boosts motivation and energy
  • promotes mental alertness and concentration
  • can improve mental health
  • increases feelings of well being and confidence
  • balances dopamine levels when depleted by serotonin supplements
  • lowers stress levels
  • can be helpful for ADD

Recommended Forms:

  • Standardized extracts containing 15% L-Dopa (levodopa)

Possible Side effects:

Mucuna Pruriens is generally safe when kept at lower doses. An increase in side effects can occur at higher doses. The most common side effects include headache, overstimulation, and nausea. If you are sensitive to stimulants or find yourself already overstimulated it might be best to avoid Mucana.
 
Do not use with other prescription drugs or supplements that effect dopamine levels. Taking Mucuna with other stimulants can make feelings of over-stimulation or anxiety worse. Long term use of Mucuna can reduce serotonin in the brain.
Recommended Brand:
 
Dosage:  To start – try taking 1 capsule in the morning to determine your reaction; we do not recommend taking more than 2 capsules per day.
 
Cycle Usage: Due to it's direct effects on dopamine, Mucuna should always be cycled off. Tolerance also tends to build up rather quickly. We recommend at least 2 days off for every 5 days on.  Long term use is not recommended.

turmeric/curcumin

Overview:

Turmeric and it's main bioactive compound Curcumin, are supplements primarily used for their anti-inflammatory effects on the brain and body and for joint health. Although not often discussed, brain inflammation can be a hidden cause of anxiety symptoms. Curcumin has recently been studied for it's ability to modulate both serotonin and dopamine and for it's effectiveness for treating major depression. Many people have experienced a notable reduction in both anxiety and depression by supplementing with Curcumin. This listing mostly refers to Curcumin, being the more researched of the two, however some users have reported greater anxiety relief through a natural Turmeric supplement. You may consider trying both if you consider inflammation to be an underlying cause for your anxiety or suffer from depression.
Potential Benefits:
 
  • a powerful anti-inflammatory for the brain and body
  • a natural anti-oxidant it may help to neutralize free radicals
  • supports joint health
  • may reduce anxiety caused by brain inflammation
  • can reduce inflammation and pain
  • neuroprotective
  • proven to reduce symptoms of depression
  • modulates both serotonin and dopamine
  • possible MAO inhibitor

Recommended Forms:

  • Curcumin from Turmeric Root with Black Pepper Extract (Bioperine, Piperine, etc.)
  • Organic Turmeric Root Powder (for use in smoothies, shakes or as an ingredient )
  • BCM-95 (provides better absorption than standard Curcumin but doesn't contain black pepper extract)

Possible Side effects:

Curcumin is generally safe, however, some people can develop upset stomach, heartburn or indigestion. Some people respond negatively to Black Pepper Extract with the most common side effects being stomach related issues like diarrhea and nausea. If you respond negatively to black pepper extract, try a Curcumin supplement like BCM-95 (Life Extension Curcumin Elite contains BCM-95) which doesn't contain BPE.
 
Curcumin has been known to interfere with anti-platelet and anti-coagulent drugs. Talk to your doctor before supplementing with Curcumin if you take these types of drugs

 

Recommended Brand:
 
Dosage:  take 2 capsules with a meal, either together or splitting into 2 doses
 
Cycle Usage: Although not always recommended we believe all supplements should be cycled, some at shorter intervals than others.

kanna (sceletium tortousom)

Overview:

Sceletium Tortuosom, more commonly known as Kanna, is an herbal supplement traditionally used prior to stressful events to reduce anxiety and improve cognition. Today Kanna is primarily used to elevate mood, reduce anxiety and tension and as a natural anti-depressant. Kanna is believed to work similar to an SSRI (Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft etc), and can increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. Therefore Kanna should not be taken with other serotonin regulating drugs or supplements. Although an often overlooked herbal supplement, many people find Kanna to be extremely effective for anxiety.

 

Potential Benefits:
 
  • reduces anxiety and inner tension
  • reduces panic attacks
  • increases and regulates serotonin
  • can work as a natural anti-depressant
  • improves mood
  • reduces stress
  • promotes a feeling of well being

Recommended Forms:

  • Zembrin – a patented and clinically tested Kanna extract

Possible Side effects:

Kanna is typically safe for supplementation. The most common side effects are headache and nausea.
 
Avoid taking Kanna if you are currently taking an SSRI, MAOI or other serotonin regulating drugs or supplements.

 

Recommended Brand:

Doctor's Best Calm-Z with Zembrin, Calm, Stress & Mood Support, 25mg Veggie Caps, 60Count

Dosage:  take 1 tablet, 1 to 2 times daily
 
Cycle Usage: We recommend cycling Kanna by taking 1-2 days off after 7-10 days of continuous use.

kava

Overview:

Kava is a popular herbal supplement traditionally used to reduce anxiety, promote feelings of well being and social engagement and overall calm in the brain and body. Many studies have proven Kava's effectiveness as an anxiolytic supplement, even placing it on par with many prescription anti-anxiety drugs. Kava is known to modulate GABA receptors in the brain, promoting a more calm state of mind. Kava can also reduce inflammation and pain.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • reduces anxiety
  • may be effective for social anxiety
  • promotes feelings of calm and well being
  • lowers feelings of stress
  • possible cognitive enhancement
  • improves sleep quality
  • improves sociability
  • can reduce pain
  • can reduce inflammation

Recommended Forms:

  • Kava extract with at least 20% kavalactones; otherwise look into authentic kava vendors selling “noble” kava, you can find a list of excellent vendors here TRUE KAVA

Possible Side effects:

Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue and upset stomach. Kava can cause liver damage with repeated high dose usage.

Kava was implicated in causing liver damage in some people, however, studies have shown that this only seems to occur at very high dosages over time, not at normal doses. Typical Kava use tends to have similar effects on the liver as consuming alcohol. Kava should only be used occasionally and high doses should be avoided. Those with liver issues should avoid Kava. 

Recommended Brand:
 
 

Dosage: Follow the sellers advice on dosage for their product. Start low to determine tolerance. There are different types of Kava that tend to have different effects. This Fiji Loa Waka is best used at night as it can have a strong sedating effect. Tends to work very well for strong evening anxiety or insomnia.

Cycle Usage: Kava should only be used occasionally.

Bacopa monnieri

Overview:

Bacopa monnieri is an Ayurvedic herb primarily known for it's cognitive and memory enhancing benefits. But Bacopa has also been proven effective for preventing anxiety and modulating the anxiety response. Bacopa is an adaptogen, like Ashwagandha, that helps balance response to stress and anxiety. Like other adaptogens, Bacopa needs be taken daily for an extended period of time before full benefits will be experienced. For full anxiolytic effects, at least 2-4 weeks are typically needed. For cognitive effects, 8-12 weeks. In the brain, Bacopa increases serotonin and regulates dopamine. Bacopa also has many additional benefits for the brain and nervous system such as having neuroprotective qualities and reducing neuroinflammation.

Potential Benefits:
 
  • prevents anxiety
  • helps modulate the stress/anxiety response
  • promotes a more balanced mental state
  • lowers feelings of stress
  • improves cognition
  • improves memory
  • a natural antioxidant
  • improves neuronal communication in the brain and nervous system
  • neuroprotective
  • reduces neuroinflammation

Recommended Forms:

  • Standardized Extracts with at least 50% Bacosides
  • “Synapsa” standarized extract

Possible Side effects:

Bacopa can cause stomach upset if taken on an empty stomach. It is highly recommend to take Bacopa with a meal. Bacopa is fat soluble, taking with a meal containing a moderate amount of fat can help improve absorption.

Bacopa can cause a loss in motivation and brain fog in certain people. If this is the case for you it's best to discontinue supplementation.

Recommended Brand:
 
 
Note: very few Bacopa supplements (extracts) contain a high enough percentage of Bacosides, Synapsa is currently the most well researched standardized extract and contains 55% Bacosides
 

Dosage: 1 capsule daily as directed, generally best if taken with a meal to avoid stomach upset

Cycle Usage: Bacopa tends to work gradually and can take 8-12 weeks to get the full benefits. When I use Bacopa I typically take it for 3-4 months at a time.
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2 thoughts on “Herbs & Supplements for Anxiety: An In-Depth Guide to Anxiety Supplements”

    1. Hi Siobhan,

      Thank you for your question. While I wish I could say “take this supplement and it will work for your social anxiety” it doesn’t always work that way. Everyone tends to respond differently to different supplements and herbs so it’s a bit of trial and error, unfortunately.

      That being said there are 2 supplements that typically work well for both social anxiety and irrational fear and ruminations that I personally like and work well for many people I’ve recommended them to:

      Ashwagandha (particularly a Sensoril extract) – works well for general anxiety, social anxiety, worry and fear and calming the mind
      NAC – works well for ruminating thoughts (constant repetitive fears or worries), obsessive thoughts and behaviors, irrational negative thoughts and social anxiety

      You can read a little more about both above in this article. There’s also a pretty interesting article on NAC from Psychology Today here : https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/heal-your-brain/201810/nac-the-amino-acid-turns-psychiatry-its-head

      Either one may work great for you or they may not, there’s always a bit of experimenting involved. Whatever route you decide to go always talk to your doctor first before taking herbs or supplements especially if you are currently taking a prescription medication.

      Hopefully this helped a little. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask.

      -Robert

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