Supplements for Anxiety?
Well, not for anxiety, more like supplements to ease anxiety, supplements to away anxiety. Not exactly against, either, because of course, in moderation, anxiety has its uses.
· Let’s me know when I’m up to big stuff.
· Let’s me know when I’m potentially in danger or doing something scary and new.
· Let’s me be primed and alert—blinders on, nothing else exists; I am on it.
What I don’t want is anxiety which takes on a life of its own.
What I don’t want is anxiety which rules me, runs me.
What I don’t want is anxiety becoming panic such that the blinders cause confusion and overwhelm—a complete and utter breakdown of my senses.
Anxiety gets to be in the car with me, but it doesn’t get to drive.
Eating clean will support this.
Moving consciously will support this.
All the fun behaviours to activate the vagus nerve—that we covered last time—will support this.
And, supplementing with various nutrients will also support this.
Let’s focus on that tonight.
First, some housekeeping about supplements. One of my mantras is food is medicine—and supplements are a concentrated form of food, aren’t they? So we get to be intentional, conscientious, and cautious when we decide to use them.
Make sure you are not taking any pharmaceuticals which may interfere. A good resource for that is here.
And I suggest a different mantra for trying out supplements: Start Low and Go Slow.
Excusing the grammatical error there—it works. Start with the smallest amount of something and pay careful attention to how you feel. Slowly add more if you need to, staying on the same dose for about three days. If you have any type of reaction you don’t want, cease and desist. Do not wait for the reaction to go away if you have any doubt about it.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s dive in, beginning with some herbs.
Ashwaghanda: An Indian herb that is definitely worth trying as it is adaptogenic, which means it supports the body in the manner the body needs supporting. Almost magical. This herb has been studied quite widely and also neutralizes free radicals. It supports brain health, thus improving focus.
Kava Kava: has been found to reduce stress and anxiety so effectively that it can be used in diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder. It boosts the action of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in our bodies, so it makes us feel good. Without the side effect of addiction. Anytime we can avoid pharmaceuticals is a good time in my book. Save them until you need them, right?!
Valerian: boosts the length of time that GABA stays around the bloodstream. GABA is a neurotransmitter. Low levels are associated with chronic pain and anxiety, so keeping it around longer is a boon.
Rhodiola rosea: is another adaptogenic herb. This one has been studied to reduce stress and improve sleep for folks with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Herbs as essential oils?
Diffusing Roman Chamomile, and Lavender for a quick start. Or try dabbing it on the wrists or temples. A lot more ideas where these came from, but let’s keep this simple.
Yep. Proteins for the win. Calming agents in the body include:
5-HTP: boosts serotonin and is available in supplement form.
GABA: itself! Can also be taken as a supplement.
Glycine: is, apparently super for sleep. And, I don’t know about you, but my stress and anxiety both go up if I’m sleep-deprived. To say nothing of my digestion, menopausal symptoms, and a host of other things I prefer to avoid.
L-theanine: as found in green tea, but in order to experience its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) benefits we need it in a concentrated supplement form—and this avoids the caffeine, as well.
B Vitamins: reduce our anxiety levels by balancing our blood sugar and by supporting the production of hormones which balance our moods—and regulate our sleep. Super important. Super foundational—which explains why they are in so many nutrient-dense foods. It’s easy not to get enough and it’s difficult to overdose as they are water soluble. Explains the bright yellow pee we sometimes see even if we are well hydrated!
Magnesium: shows up on just about every list I create. It is known as the stress mineral. We deplete it like crazy when we are stressed out—and we use a lot just to perform the basic functions of the body. So eat your green leafy veggies and consider supplements. We can take them orally, bathe in Epsom salts, or use a body spray.
It is beyond the scope of this list to suggest actual dosages of these supplements, so stick with the Start Low, Go Slow mantra if you feel drawn to try something. Listen to your body. The more often you do this, the better you’ll be able to judge whether a supplement—or food—is a good fit for you.
Listen. Trust. And proceed with caution. These are powerful adjuncts to your diet which can have potent effects on your body, mind, and spirit.
As I put this message to bed, I realize I totally ignored good ole CBD. That's a big one for many people with anxiety. So big that it deserves its own post. So stay tuned. Boom.