Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling a bit anxious, it can be easy to reach for things to help you feel better in the moment?
We’ve all been there! Whether it’s social media, a glass of wine, a smoke, a comfort food, or even just allowing ourselves to stew in negative thought patterns, it can be hard to stop even when we know these things aren’t the best for us in the long run.
This month we are focusing on Holistic Approaches to Anxiety, and today we wanted to offer some alternative things to reach for in those moments of overwhelm, and more importantly, some ways to reduce overall anxiety and decrease the likelihood of even needing to reach for that short term relief.
The naturopathic approach to anxiety includes creating a sense of calm and balance in the body by combining many strategies such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, mind-body techniques and hormone balancing.
Sometimes seemingly “simple” lifestyle shifts like reducing coffee, increasing exercise or adding in a daily meditation practice can make a profound difference in the way you feel. Sometimes adding in a supplement or herb to shift your brain chemistry and balance your hormones can be an important next step.
In today’s blog article, we’re providing you with a list of the top 5 nutrients and the top 5 herbs that we’ve seen work well with many of our patients over the years. The supplements and dose ranges mentioned are only a general guide so please be aware that every case is unique and you should consult your own personal doctor before embarking on any new treatment approach.
Many of the below supplements are available through our FullScript online store. In each description you can learn a little more about how they work to help you consider what might be the best fit. Once you log in (or create a free account if you’ve never used our online store before) you can also search FullScript for other supplements and natural health items.
5 Nutrients to Calm Anxiety
- GABA – An amino acid that acts as the “brakes” for your brain chemistry. We love using a supplement called “PharmaGABA” which is available as a chewable tablet for quickest effects (usually within 10 minutes!), 100-400mg per day.
- L-Theanine – Known as the “zen” amino acid, theanine is naturally occurring in green tea. This supplement helps to quiet racing thoughts, and gives a calm but alert feeling so can be taken during the day or at night. 50-400mg per day.
- 5-HTP – this is a nutritional precursor to serotonin, the brain’s “happy” chemical, and can support both anxiety and depression. 50-200mg per day.
- Magnesium – this mineral is foundational to helping your mind and body to relax, so you can feel more calm, release muscle tension, and improve sleep. Take in the evening and use the glycinate form as it is less likely to cause loose stools. 200-400mg per day.
- Inositol – helps cell membrane communication. Side benefits for metabolism and improving insulin function. Can take daily, or as needed can use a powder mixed in water to reduce anxiety and feelings of panic. 500-4,000mg per day.
5 Herbs to Calm Anxiety
(often used in combination formulas, here are some of our favorite herbs for calming):
- Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia – One specific extract, trademarked as Silexan, has been clinically studied and shown to be effective with taking just one softgel per day containing 80mg. Also can use externally as a bath oil, massage oil, laundry spritz, etc.
- Valerian – Valeriana officianalis – Used for nervousness and sleep, this is a potent herbal option that we recommend only for occasional use. Can have sedating effects but in some people taking higher doses it can have an opposite agitating effect.
- Passionflower – Passiflora incarnata – This beautiful flower helps us to relax and relieves anxiety. It has a long history of use for sleep and stress and can be used as tea, tincture or in capsules.
- Skullcap – Scutellaria lateriflora – Known botanically as a “nervine” this gentle herb helps to nourish nerve cells under stress and can be used during the day while exhausted or at night to help sleep.
- Chamomile – Matricaria recutita – This is a classic calming herb most often used as a relaxing tea. Can also be used for GI irritation, or for general restlessness and irritability (often used with kids, too!). For strongest medicinal effect, make the tea very concentrated by adding more herb, or extra tea bags, in only 4oz of hot water.
If you or someone you know struggles with anxiety, please know that you are not alone and you don’t have to just suffer through. Depending on your needs, it may be best to work with your medical provider or a licensed therapist and in some cases prescription medications may be appropriate.
If you are interested in learning more about hormone balancing and natural remedies, our team of naturopathic doctors and health coaches are here to provide more guidance and a customized approach with our new patient Vitality Jumpstart program.
Schedule a complimentary Vitality Discovery Call to learn more about all the ways we can support your adrenals as well as your overall hormonal balance.