With the number of people suffering from anxiety rising Researchers are finding that nutrition plays a more important role in mental health than previously thought.
One of the interesting aspects of these discussion is the role that natural supplements could play in helping ease anxiety.
Read on for the latest research and expert advice about supplements to treat anxiety, including who might benefit, who may not and some specific types of supplements that could be able to help certain people.
What’s the cause of anxiety?
According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is a continual, uncontrollable anxiety that does not stop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 12 percent in the U.S. adult population has periodic feelings of worry anxieties, nervousness or nervousness.
If these feelings get strong enough and consistent enough to make it difficult to carry out daily routines, it’s possible that you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder. Disorders of anxiety are among the most frequent kind of mental illness that is seen within the U.S., with 40 million adults (19.1 percent in the overall population) affected annually.
Traditional treatments and methods for anxiety comprise psychotherapy – which is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy–and medication, such as antidepressants. These therapies are well-researched and scientifically proved to be effective for managing anxiety.
Although traditional treatment methods can be very effective, some people living with anxiety may find that the treatments don’t work in the way they’d prefer. It’s been estimated that up to 50% of patients who receive common treatments of generalized anxiety do not respond to first-line treatments like antidepressants. Additionally, antidepressants can come with unwanted side effects like fatigue, weight gain and loss of libido that can make some people be hesitant or to stop using these medications (although you should not take a medication break without consulting your physician prior to doing so).
About 40% of those with moderate mental distress, which typically includes anxiety, report turning towards alternative and complementary medical strategies, such as supplements to help them feel better.
So, can supplements help ease anxiety? It’s possible. it depends on the cause and severity of the anxiety. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet, or exploring alternative treatments.
Supplements for Anxiety: need for a Personalized Approach
“Anxiety can present very differently for two individuals with the same diagnosis,” According to Ripal Shah, M.D., clinical assistant professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “One might experience primarily physical symptoms (palpitations) when they are stressed or anxious. The other might be calm and physically relaxed but feel restless internally (racing thought patterns).”
Try a supplement that affects the nerve system that regulates our “fight or flight” stress response can help a person with physical symptoms ease their anxiety. However, the same supplement may not work for those suffering from emotional problems.
Therefore, it’s vital to have a customized strategy when dealing with anxiety medications.
It’s also very evident regarding the role that supplements can perform as a means of treating anxiety is they’re not an individual, “cure-all” solution–and they’re usually just one component of additional lifestyle approaches aimed towards reducing anxiety
“If we’re looking for a supplement to alter our brain activity but haven’t re-focused our training routine, developed an everyday mind-body routine, found a workable whole foods diet plan and so on. Supplements are likely to have a less-than-hoped-for impact,” says Brent Bauer, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program.
“I always advise my patients that supplements are not a substitute for. If there’s deficiencies in vitamins, it is possible to consider supplements, however, there can be risks associated with taking unneeded or multiple supplements,” adds Michelle Loy, M.D. A specialist in integrative medicine with the Integrative Health and Wellbeing Center at Weill Cornell Medicine.
With all that being said that said, dietary supplements for anxiety may be beneficial for some people, specifically for those who
Have a known nutrient deficiency
Are afflicted with only mild symptoms
Are resistant to taking medication
Haven’t seen any results from other traditional therapies
Who should stay clear of supplements for anxiety?
Experts emphasize the importance of review and discussion of any new supplements aimed to reduce stress with an experienced, knowledgeable medical professional prior to introducing them.
“Anything that is powerful enough to cause an effect that is beneficial must have the power to have an adverse effect, too,” explains Dr. Bauer.
There are possible adverse effects, or even dangers of taking anxiety-related supplements for the following types of people:
People taking certain medications that might interfere or interact with certain supplements.
People who have other mental health or medical ailments, in which supplementation could cause anxiety and stress-related symptoms worse, or trigger new symptoms.
People suffering from severe anxiety need access to immediate treatment.
The pregnant woman or breastfeeding (unless they speak to the doctor first).
“In my personal practice I’m adamant about encouraging my patients to incorporate a variety of mind-body practices (in addition to diet, exercise etc.) for at least three months before we consider supplements,” states Dr. Bauer.
Supplements That Could Help To Reduce Anxiety
There are many supplements available that claim to help with anxiety. The method of identifying the most effective one can be somewhat of trial and error, but should always be done with the assistance of a doctor.
“If my patient is thinking of an alternative, we will go over the risks and benefits that are known and then we use a database to scan for any possible interactions with the medication they are currently taking,” says Dr. Bauer.
A few common supplements that may help ease anxiety include the following.
An Ayurvedic herb that can work particularly well for people with anxiety and insomnia, ashwagandha has been proven to help improve sleep and stress resilience. It’s also an herb Dr. Loy recommends.
Recent reviews on the safety and effectiveness of ashwagandha for anxiety suggest that although the effects are generally positive, studies are tiny. Further research on the appropriate quantity and duration of time when ashwagandha is utilized as a substitute or as an adjunct to traditional treatments are needed.
L-theanine, a plant-based substance, is which is most often located in leaves of tea. “L-theanine has been found to be beneficial in studies in relation to sleeping, and also some contradicting research on anxiety” says Dr. Shah.
A 2022 study review from Pharmacological Research found that compared with groups that did not take L-theanine, the groups taking L-theanine didn’t see significant improvement in treating anxiety. However, a 2015 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition does suggest L-theanine’s effectiveness in helping to improve sleep quality–so individuals dealing who have sleep issues might find this supplement helpful
Recent clinical studies suggest that magnesium supplementation, when combined with other vitamins like vitamin B6 or zinc is a possible solution to reduce anxiety across a variety of populations, including individuals who are stressed, as well as those suffering from type 2 heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, a majority of Americans aren’t getting enough of magnesium, and frequently don’t receive enough from their diet.
In terms of concrete guidelines on magnesium for anxiety across the board But, more research must be conducted. “Currently there’s only a small amount of and inconclusive evidence on magnesium and its effect on anxiety,” explains Monique Richard, an integrative dietitian and National media spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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“While there are some studies suggesting the possibility of the benefits of vitamin D for anxiety or depression however, the research remains unclear on whether vitamin D supplementation could help alleviate signs,” says Doctor. Loy.
Researchers, for instance, have to study the ways in which vitamin D supplementation affects individuals of various ages and kinds of anxiety. Scientists are also evaluating if taking vitamin D in conjunction with other nutrients, for instance, omega-3 fatty acids have any benefit.
A 2022 controlled controlled trial conducted in Human Psychopharmacology randomly assigned 478 young adults who were primarily women to be treated with lactose tablets, vitamin B6 tablets or vitamin B12 tablets over a month. The participants who supplemented with high doses of vitamin B6 reported a decrease in the level of anxiety.
But, a previous study from the year 2019 revealed that in general, B vitamins did not have a noticeable effect on anxiety. In combination both pieces of research highlight the need to conduct more research around B Vitamins and anxiety particularly when it comes to B6.
Cannabidiol (CBD) CBD is a plant-based bioactive compound found within the Cannabis plant. One of the most popular reasons why people choose to use CBD is to help alleviate anxiety that they have experienced.
However, evidence-based research on CBD’s impact on anxiety is very limited.
Interestingly, a small 2021 research study in Psychopharmacology investigated what might be behind the self-reported image CBD is gaining for reducing anxiety, despite the fact that it has a limited and uncertain scientific evidence.
Researchers randomly assigned 43 otherwise healthy adults to consume CBD-free hemp seed oils in two sessions. In the first, they were told it had CBD (expectancy disease) and in the second session, they were told it did not.
The subjects who had the strongest convictions prior to studying that CBD can help reduce anxiety reported lowered anxiety when they were expectedly taking the CBD supplement. In this study, scientists effectively confirmed that a “placebo effect” was responsible for the decreased anxiety symptoms, and not the CBD.
Another study in 2019 showed that CBD supplementation did indeed reduce anxiety in 79% of the people involved in the study.
Like many other supplements discussed in this article the two studies that contradict each other suggest the need for further clinical trials on CBD and anxiety.
Other supplements for anxiety
There are many other supplements marketed for relieving anxiety, such as:
Omega 3 fat acids
However, “simply seeing it advertised or even on a shelves does not necessarily mean that it’s a good option for your individual requirements,” says Richard.