Today we explore natural treatments for anxiety. Usually when people start thinking about treating their anxiety naturally, what they usually want is to find the herbs and supplements that will work for them.
In this article we offer 15 research backed natural treatments for anxiety. All 15 treatments have been shown to have a positive impact on anxiety. We also discuss how to build a more holistic approach to our personal mental health.
- Deal With The Misconceptions!
- The 15 Best Natural Treatments For Anxiety.
Deal With The Misconceptions!
A common misconception is that anyone who gets diagnosed with depression or anxiety must have been born with the condition because it’s genetic.
This is absolutely wrong!
The reality is that while anxiety and depression can be linked to biological factors (such as genetics), there are also around 20 other known factors that have nothing to do with your hereditary.
Before we start discussing our natural treatments for anxiety first a couple of disclaimers.
- I am not a doctor. So you should always check with your doctor before making any changes to medication or adding supplements.
- I am not anti-medication. I recommend that you consider the pros and cons of multiple treatment approaches. This is basis of all holistic therapy. 1
So let’s start!
The 15 Best Natural Treatments For Anxiety.
1. Multi Vitamin Supplements – Natural Treatments For Anxiety.
Most essential micro nutrients are absorbed through food. This is especially true for food types such as fruits, nuts and vegetables.
For many people taking vitamins and supplements is actually a waste of money.
However for those people who don’t absorb the vitamins from food well or have a poor diet often develop vitamin deficiency.
A deficiency in vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, and E can all contribute to anxiety and symptoms of depression.
The best source of vitamins is a healthy diet that is high in plant food types and low in processed food.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Around 40 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient 2 and this is closely associated with depression.
It is possible to get tested for D deficiencies. If you are D deficient you can supplement with Vitamin D and make sure you get out into the sunshine!
Sunlight is known to help your body process and absorb vitamin D.
Research also shows that for some people supplementing with vitamin D, B6 or B12 can have a positive impact on their anxiety and depression.
Taking a multivitamin has been shown to help with general anxiety disorder.
Vitamins make it to the top spot on our 15 Natural Treatments For Anxiety list because they are safe to take, they are economical and they have no known side effects when taken as directed.
2. Magnesium Supplements – 15 Natural Treatments For Anxiety.
Magnesium is a common natural element and is essential for hundreds of bodily functions.
Every cell in our body needs magnesium to perform its day to day routine. That’s because magnesium assists with energy creation, with protein formation, with gene maintenance, and our nervous systems cell regulation.
Magnesium is naturally found in food. It is especially prevalent in dark leafy greens, nuts, avocados, and bananas.
There is a lot of research that shows magnesium supplements have a positive effect on anxiety 3 and depression.
In one randomised controlled trial of depressed older adults it was shown that 440mg of magnesium daily improved mood as effectively as an antidepressant.
Magnesium supplements are a relatively safe and inexpensive supplement. It has few side effects and the worst that will happen is you’ll get the runs. So probably well worth trying.
3. Zinc Supplements – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
Zinc is another naturally occurring element that we gain from the food in our diet.
Recently there have been clinical studies that show OCD, panic attacks and generalized anxiety have links to a zinc deficiency. 4
Studies also show that adding zinc supplements to dietary routine have improved anxiety symptoms.
Zinc supplements are common, easy to find, inexpensive and have few side effects.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
Another supplement that has been shown to be helpful with anxiety is fish oil or Omega 3.
Omega 3 fatty acids are really important for your body and brain.
Few nutrients have been studied as thoroughly as omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 supplements have been found to be very safe and studies show positive impact on brain health, depression and anxiety.
5. Licorice Root – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
People usually like licorice root because of its sweet taste, that is why traditionally we use it in candies and beverages.
However, this herb also carries loads of health benefits for those who suffer with anxiety. This is because of the effects it has on the adrenal glands.
Within the body, the adrenal glands produce our stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
Licorice helps regulate the production of these hormones, buffeting the body’s defenses against stress and reducing anxiety symptoms.
Licorice root is also wonderful for aiding gastrointestinal upset, which is common among many people with anxiety.
Most modern drinks and candies that say they contain licorice actually only contain a licorice type of flavoring. This does not provide the same benefits as licorice root.
To gain maximum benefit it is best to consume licorice in an extracted, purified form.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is the safest and most effective variety of medicinal licorice root available.
DGL is sold in capsule, powder, tea and chewable tablet forms. Our recommended Licorice Root Supplements are here.
6. Inositol Vitamin B8 – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
Inositol is often called “vitamin B8”. Confusingly, both are wrong.
It is neither a vitamin nor a member of the vitamin B family. Inositol is actually a naturally occurring sugar found in foods such as fruits, beans, grains, and nuts.
From the foods we eat, inositol is consumed in quantities of about one gram per day on average.
Whereas Inositol supplements are dosed significantly higher, at up to 18 grams per day.
It is highly unlikely anyone could get the amount of inositol needed from their diet so for treating anxiety we need to supplement our diet with it.
It is a recommended aid for anxiety and depression because of the role it plays with Serotonin and Dopamine production.
Serotonin and dopamine are two of the four brain chemicals responsible for our minds feeling good (the other two being oxytocin and endorphin), and inositol functions as a messenger for their production in the brain.
People suffering from anxiety and depression have been shown to have reduced amounts of inositol in their systems.
Therefore it’s a fairly straightforward move to try and help the body produce more serotonin and dopamine by way of providing the brain with more inositol in supplement form.
Our recommended Inositol supplements are here.
7. Passionflower – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
There are about 500 known species of passionflower, and this beautiful plant has been proven effective for treating anxiety and insomnia.
Native Americans have used passionflower to treat a variety of conditions, including boils, cuts and wounds, earache, liver problems and anxiety.
In Europe people have used passionflower to treat restlessness and agitation for centuries as well as using it to treat anxiety.
Traditionally it’s considered more of a calming herb. The effects of Passionflower are said to be similar to Valerian Root and Kava, but not as potent.
Research has shown Passion Flower to be effective at reducing stress before surgery.
In 2010 there were 3 human trials that showed the effectiveness of passionflower as a treatment for anxiety related disorders.
We recommend these Passion Flower supplements.
8. Valerian Root – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
Valerian root is often referred to as nature’s valium. This herb has been used since ancient times to promote tranquility and sleep.
It has received a lot of positive attention for its effectiveness treating anxiety, however there have been a small number of trials that raised doubts about its home remedy effectiveness and also whether it was safe.
It is said that valerian Root impacts the gaba receptors and amygdala. Therefore having impact upon our fear receptors in the brain. This causes a calming and peaceful state of mind, similar to the effects of valium and xanax.
There is also quite a lot of research that suggests Valerian Root is helpful for treating insomnia.
As a supplement it has very rare and fairly mild side effects. So Valerian Root is an option you shouldn’t rule out. Try it for yourself and see how it works for you.
9. Chamomile – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
Chamomile is a flowering herb similar in appearance to a daisy. There are two types of chamomile that people can use medicinally: Roman chamomile and German chamomile.
Some people use chamomile in the following forms to help relieve stress and anxiety:
- skin cream
All 93 participants received 1,500 mg of chamomile daily for 12 weeks. Some then continued taking chamomile for the next 26 weeks, while the remainder switched to a placebo.
Researchers observed that those participants who continued taking chamomile were no less likely to experience a relapse of GAD symptoms than those switching to placebo. However, when relapse did occur, the symptoms were less severe.
Some people may experience allergic reactions to chamomile, particularly if they experience reactions to the following plants:
Chamomile may interact with certain drugs, including the blood thinner warfarin, and the antirejection drug cyclosporine.
Anyone taking any type of medication should check with their doctor before consuming chamomile teas or supplements.
10. Saffron – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
Saffron has been used for centuries to treat cramps, depression and asthma.
2 recent studies showed that it had a positive effect on depression and anxiety.
In one study the participants took saffron by itself and the other study combined its active ingredient with an antidepressant medication.
The research showed that the group taking saffron did better than the placebo group or the medication only group.
Saffron is nicknamed the “sunshine spice.”
That’s not just due to its distinct color, but also because it may help brighten your mood.
In a review of five studies, saffron supplements were significantly more effective than placebos at treating symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression .
Other studies found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily was just as effective as Fluoxetine, Imipramine, and Citalopram, which are conventional treatments for depression.
Additionally, fewer people experienced side effects from saffron compared to other treatments
What’s more, both the saffron petals and thread-like stigma appear to be effective against mild-to-moderate depression
While these findings are promising, longer human studies with more participants are needed before saffron can be recommended as a treatment for depression.
Our recommended Saffron Supplements are here.
11. Essential Amino Acids – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
Lysine is an essential amino acid that can be found in food.
Several recent studies have shown that Lysine may play a role in reducing anxiety.
One study found that it blocked receptors involved in stress response. Researchers observed that rats given lysine had reduced rates of stress-induced loose bowel movements
And a one week study in 50 healthy people noticed that supplementing with 2.64 grams of lysine and arginine lowered stress-induced anxiety and reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol
Similarly, adding 4.2 grams of lysine per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of wheat flour in deprived villages in Syria helped reduce anxiety scores in males with very high stress levels
After three months, consuming the lysine enriched flour also helped reduce cortisol levels in women.
Though research is still in its early stages, lysine may have the potential to improve schizophrenia symptoms in combination with prescribed medication.
12. Gaba – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
Gaba or Gamma Aminobutyric Acid is a naturally occurring amino acid.
It works as a neurotransmitter in our brain and helps us calm down. When it is released naturally in the brain it helps reduce feelings of anxiety aasn well as stress and fear.
Low GABA levels have been linked to depression and anxiety.
A pair of small studies conducted by a maker of GABA supplements in Japan reported that GABA had an anti-anxiety effect.
In the first study, the researchers found that taking GABA had a relaxing effect on brain waves.
In the second, people afraid of heights were asked to walk across a narrow pedestrian bridge after taking GABA or a placebo.
The participants who took GABA had lower levels of anxiety, as measured by a stress marker in saliva samples.
Our recommended Gaba supplements are here.
13. L-Theanine – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
L-theanine is an amino acid it’s most commonly found in tea leaves and in black tea. You can also find a very small amount in bay bolete mushrooms.
Studies show that increasing our intake of L-Theanine can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heartbeat and increased secretion of immunoglobulin A in saliva.
Its effects are somewhat similar to those of a sedative. L-Theanine is actually considered to be an effective anxiolytic, which helps to prevent the brain from producing an anxious response to stressful situations.
Theanine has also been found to aid in sleep, which is a huge proponent of anxiety. Young boys with ADHD were studied to find if theanine would help their sleep.
The scientists saw a significant increase in sleep percentage and sleep efficiency scores, and saw less activity during sleep in the boys who took the L-theanine.
Our recommended L-Theanine Supplements are here
14. St. John Wort – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
St.John’s Wort is a very popular natural treatment for depression.
Most of the current research surrounding St. John’s wort is for its use in treating depression. However, depression and anxiety are closely linked.
An estimated 50 percent of people with depression also suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
St. John’s wort is thought to work by keeping the brain from using up neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and norepinephrine.
As a result, the neurotransmitters are more used more effectively in the brain. This acts like an antidepressant feel-good effect in the brain. As a result, people experience fewer bouts of anxiety.
St. John’s wort has been shown to help those who suffer from mild to moderate depression symptoms. Some people with those symptoms may also have anxiety.
If you are considering trying St. John’s wort, talk with your doctor. They can make sure it won’t interfere with other medications you’re currently taking.
15. Probiotics Gut Function Seratonin – Natural Treatments For Anxiety
The gut is often referred to as the “second” brain because it contains the same tissue and can produce many of the same chemical messengers as the brain in our skull.
If you have ever experienced “butterflies in your stomach” when you are nervous or excited, then you have experienced the “Gut-Brain Connection”.
Probiotics are microorganisms known for their benefits to digestive health.
Recent research has revealed that probiotics can also have a profound impact on mental health.
A healthy balance of bacteria in the body can boost the body’s ability to cope with stress, improve overall mental health and bolster cognitive functioning.
Probiotics are found in a wide variety of foods and drinks, particularly those created through fermentation.
Some of the most common sources include sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, miso and pickles.