What are the Best Natural Supplements for Anxiety and Stress?
If you’ve been suffering from stress and anxiety and desire to self-manage through the use of supplements, it can feel like an overwhelming task. A quick Google search will bring up a whole host of stress-relieving supplements - all with associated benefits and claims. But figuring out which one is right your needs can lead you down the research rabbit hole, weighing up the pros and cons of each. It can often feel like you want - or feel compelled - to buy them all…However, it’s not the most cost-effective or self-soothing way of managing your mental health. The indecision that comes from trying to make the right purchase can bring its own form of stress.
So, what are the best natural supplements for stress and anxiety?
What are the Different Types of Stress and Anxiety Supplements?
Stress supplements aren’t created equal… There are many natural and herbal remedies out there. But each of them has a unique set of qualities that make them more or less useful in some situations than others. In terms of the interaction you have with each supplement, there are herbal remedies that offer benefits more on the mental level and ‘thinking/roleplaying’ component of stress. And then, there are supplements that have more of a physiological effect, relieving the associated symptoms of an over-active nervous system.
Stress Management Supplements
Supplements used in stress management tend to be those which are taken for an extended period to create lasting changes in your mood and your body’s capacity to regulate and move through stressful triggers. You may need to take these supplements for anywhere between 2-4 weeks to notice an effect on your overall well-being and a reduction in your stress levels.
Stress Relieving Supplements
Supplements used for stress relief are often able to provide more immediate benefits. This is due to them being far more potent. The best stress relief supplements are usually found in a class known as adaptogens. These contain a wider spectrum of beneficial compounds that are far more bioavailable. The best supplements for stress relief are characterised by the calming effect they have on your nervous system. This is the part of your anatomy that presents the symptoms or dis-ease you recognise as stress.
Positive Mind helps to reduce negative thoughts, anxiety and stress, due to its calming ingredients. This natural supplement is non-habit forming and won’t make you drowsy. It helps you to sleep better and gives your body support during times of stress.
Best Natural Stress Management Supplements
If you don’t feel as though you need to regulate yourself on a daily basis, you might want to consider looking at stress management supplements. Here are some of the best supplements for stress management:
1. Ashwagandha (Stress Management Supplement)
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine that’s been used for over 3,000 years - a traditional Indian approach of natural healing. As one of the most important herbs within Ayurveda, it’s renowned as a highly effective herbal supplement for stress, lowering blood pressure and improving concentration. Ashwagandha is classed as an adaptogen, meaning it has properties that help your body cope with the rigours of stress. It’s a well-researched supplement for stress management with many studies documenting its effects in controlling heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1). Studies have shown ashwagandha to be well-tolerated by the body. One study carried out with 80 healthy men and women taking 600mg of the herb every day for 8 weeks showed no negative side effects. However, there are certain people who avoid taking the herb altogether. It’s been observed that pregnant women may risk experiencing a miscarriage if taking ashwagandha in large doses. Also, those with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer and people currently taking medications such as benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, or barbiturates, should avoid ashwagandha completely. It’s also important to note that ashwagandha doesn’t act immediately. So, it’s very much a supplement for stress management and not instantaneous stress relief.
2. Passion Flower Extract (Stress Management Supplement)
Passion flower is native to the southeastern United States, Central and South America. It was originally used by the natives of those lands as a sedative. Today, having been brought over to Europe, Passion flower is one of the lesser-known natural supplements used to reduce stress. Studies have shown that it can aid in reducing anxiety and insomnia by boosting the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This helps lower brain activity, which helps promote relaxation and more restful sleep. Amongst other applications, it’s also been used as a more generalised health supplement to aid in the management of sleep problems, physical pain, heart rhythm problems, menopausal symptoms and even ADHD. It’s been observed that 800mg per day of dried alcoholic extract of passion flower has been used safely for up to 8 weeks in clinical studies. It’s been observed that passion flower takes around 7 days to help people regulate their sleep patterns.
3. Ginseng Extract (Stress Management Supplement)
Ginseng is renowned as being one of the best supplements to lower stress levels in the body. It’s one of the best-selling natural stress supplements that has the capacity to bring equilibrium to the body, as well as possessing adaptogenic actions that promote anti-stress. These adaptogenic qualities make you more resilient to mental, physical and environmental stress. Ginseng extract is believed to help stabilise the sympathetic nervous system and improve cognitive impairment in those with high stress. It does this by reducing the stress hormone cortisol while also strengthening the adrenal glands. Ginseng has also been shown to raise the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that stimulates the growth of new brain cells. BDNF has been shown to act as a natural antidepressant and reduce the effects of stress on the brain. The compound that makes ginseng such an effective herbal remedy for stress management are ginsenosides that have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. As well as reducing the occurrence of psychological diseases, such as anxiety and depression, ginseng has also been found to prevent stress-associated physiological diseases.
Best Stress Natural Stress Relieving Supplements
If, on the other hand, you are in need of regulating yourself and are suffering from heightened states of stress and anxiety on a daily basis, you may want to explore those in the stress relief category.
Here are some of the best natural stress relief supplements:
4. Rhodiola Rosea (Stress Relieving Supplement)
Rhodiola Rosea is another member of the adaptogen family along with ashwagandha, and is a natural stress-lowering supplement with well-documented effects. It’s an extremely powerful herb that’s been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of burnout that results from chronic stress. This was verified from a study involving 118 participants all suffering from stress-induced burnout. Each person was given 400mg of Rhodiola daily for 12 weeks. The results showed discernible improvements in symptoms such as stress, depression and burnout. The biggest improvements were seen during the first week, which is unsurprising given that Rhodiola takes effect after roughly 30 minutes of ingestion with the effects lasting between 4-6 hrs. This makes it one of the best natural supplements for stress relief that could be used as part of a coping strategy during times of deregulation. Rhodiola is said to have a significant effect on the nervous system, which is why it provides such immediate relief from stress, while also exhibiting strong anti-anxiety effects. This broad spectrum protection from stressors makes it great for providing both immediate stress relief, as well as being part of a longer-term management strategy.
5. L-Theanine (Stress Relieving Supplement)
L-Theanine is an amino found in green tea that’s been shown to have a calming effect on the mind that can aid in regulating your mental state. Given that L-theanine is found in both green and black teas, there’s been significant research demonstrating its potential for being used as a natural stress relieving supplement. In one study, 30 healthy adults were given 200mg of of L-theanine, or a placebo every night for four weeks. When the study had concluded, the researchers found there were significant improvements in the participants within 3 symptomatic variables relating to stress, which were sleep, anxiety and depression. Although these are the symptoms of stress - not the root cause itself - they can also serve as pathways to deeper levels of dysregulation that create further stress responses in the body
A lack of sleep can lead to anxiety and depression, which can make you more susceptible to situations that might potentially be triggering to you, which, if experienced often enough, can also contribute to the ongoing cycle of stress. L-Theanine is one of the more accessible supplements on this list. You likely have some in your cupboard at home, already. Feeling the benefits can be as easy as making a cup of tea. There’s approximately 30mg of L-theanine in a 200ml cup of black tea, while the same cup of green tea contains around 11.7mg. However, if you wish to use it in a more controlled expression in the same quantities used in the study mentioned above, you’d need to purchase L-theanine as an extract in supplement form.
Reishi Extract (Stress Relieving Supplement)
The Reishi mushroom is another member of the adaptogen family, originating from hot and humid countries in Asia, and has been a staple of many Eastern medicine traditions for millennia. Reishi mushrooms are highly effective at regulating the parasympathetic nervous system response because of the high concentration of polysaccharides it contains. Stress and anxiety are often the result of dysregulation within the nervous system, which can lead to a heightened state brought on by the sympathetic response of fight or flight. This makes reishi mushrooms one of the best supplements for reducing stress in the body, owing to the effect it has on symptomatic responses of the nervous system. Reishi mushrooms are able to act quickly to provide relief from the symptoms of stress, as well as form part of long-term stress management system. Since reishi works on the physical symptomatic level of dysregulation, it can be taken before you enter a situation where you know you may encounter potential stressors and or triggers. If you’re suffering from anxiety, you may also choose to work with the mushroom over the long term to promote changes in your microbiome. Many neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood are produced in the gut. Reishi mushroom is renowned as a natural anti-microbial and anti-fungal, meaning it can inhibit the growth of toxin-producing bacteria, while leaving your positive floral unharmed.
Stacking Your Supplements to Synergise Their Affects | The Nootropic Approach
The term nootropics refer to what people commonly know as ‘smart drugs.’ These are supplements that can be either natural, synthetic or prescription. Within the world of nootropics, there’s a culture of ‘stacking supplements.’ This is done through extensive trial and error, usually combining synthetic smart drugs, such as piracetam, pramiracetam, oxiracetam, and noopept amongst others…
Combining Stress Management and Stress Relieving Supplements
However, there’s nothing to say you can’t borrow this ‘hack’ and use more than one natural supplement to assist in regulating your stress and anxiety. It’s not uncommon for people to combine multiple natural remedies or supplements to create their own personal formula to take on a daily basis. This usually involves working with one supplement at a time, finding what the optimal dosage is for you with each of these natural supplements. Then, once you’ve found what works best for you, you add the next supplement to create your own formula for either relieving or managing your stress - or whatever outcome you’re trying to achieve…
Special Supplements Blends for Stress and Anxiety
However, if that’s too time-consuming for you and the thought of doing endless hours of research is something you find overwhelming or intimidating, it’s ok. There are many pre-made formulas on the market that save you time and hassle of doing this yourself. These formulas are designed to create a synergistic effect by combining both stress relieving and stress managing supplements, which can bring far more beneficial effects than simply taking one supplement in isolation. You can find natural stress and anxiety formulas containing many of the natural supplements listed above. By working with the plants in synergy, it provides a frictionless way of working with multiple herbal remedies at once in an easy to take capsule. Each formula provides its own benefits tailored to a specific need. You may want to experiment to see what your body responds to best, as everyone has a unique physiology.
Meaning…There isn’t a one size fits all ‘magic bullet.’ It’s up to you to find what works best for you. Perhaps our Positive Mind Formula for stress and anxiety might be what works for your body?
NCBI (25th Dec 2019) Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study Retrieved on 25th August from, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
NCBI (23rd Dec 2017) Role Identification of Passiflora Incarnata Linnaeus: A Mini Review. Retrieved on 25th August from, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
NCBI (29th Dec 2017) Effect of Korean Red Ginseng in individuals exposed to high stress levels: a 6-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Retrieved on 25th August from, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6606819/
Pubmed (8th Mar 2018) Effect of Korean Red Ginseng in individuals exposed to high stress levels: a 6-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Retrieved on 25th August from, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Science Direct (Dec 2015) Theanine consumption, stress and anxiety in human clinical trials: A systematic review. Retrieved on 25th August from, sciencedirect.com/
Pubmed (2005) A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. Retrieved on 25th August from, pubmed.