Practitioner Blog

Managing Anxiety With Natural Supplements

Everyone feels anxious at times. This is because there is a natural role that anxiety plays in regulating our responses to the world. However, when anxiety persists past the point of rational response, it is time to take steps to managing the issue. Fortunately, pharmaceutical drugs are not the only answer. Natural and herbal substances are becoming a popular alternative to the traditional treatments of anxiety. The most effective way to manage anxiety is to integrate these natural supplements into an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. Anxiety is characterized by feelings of worry and fearfulness. It is fuelled by lifestyle, dietary choices, environmental conditions, and biochemical factors. Symptoms of anxiety include:
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep troubles
  • Restlessness
  • Easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Irregular heartbeat

Natural supplements can work to address the biochemical factors contributing to anxiety. 
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals between brain cells. Anxiety persists when these transmitters are out of balance. Low levels of the neurotransmitters GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and serotonin contribute to anxiety, while higher than normal levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine and epinephrine also contribute to anxiety. The stress regulating hormone cortisol also plays a role. Balancing these neurotransmitters alleviates feelings associated with anxiety and can be accomplished through supplementing the body with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other natural compounds. 

Amino acids perform neurotransmitter support. 
Amino acids are the building blocks of cells. They create the enzymes needed to synthesize hormones and neurotransmitters. They are not produced naturally in the body and need to be taken in through food sources or other natural supplements. Amino acid replacement therapy is becoming a trusted way to manage anxiety. Tryptophan and tyrosine are two amino acids that allow the body to synthesize serotonin and epinephrine. 5-HTP is an amino acid that increases the production of serotonin and GABA.

B-Complex Vitamins aid in the production of neurotransmitters. B vitamins work best when taken together, in the form of a B-complex supplement. B vitamins are not stored up in the body and need constant replenishment. Vitamin B6 helps the body to produce serotonin – the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, and GABA – the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating excitability in the nervous system. Vitamin B8 (inositol) improves serotonin activity in the brain.

Minerals are a critical component to a healthy brain and aid in neurotransmitter production. 
Magnesium is crucial to healthy brain functioning. It builds brain cell membranes and regulates the uptake and release of neurotransmitters. When taken in conjunction with B-Complex vitamins, magnesium can help alleviate the symptoms associated with pre-menstrual anxiety. Iron is fuel for enzymes that synthesize neurotransmitters. An iron deficiency may be contributing to feelings of stress as it inhibits the production of dopamine. An integrative approach to anxiety management is the most effective way to see lasting results. Dietary and lifestyle modifications are as crucial to success as the introduction of natural supplements or pharmaceutical drugs. While pharmaceutical drugs can play a role in managing anxiety, it is important to remember that using only medications, without any other anxiety management plan, runs the risk of covering up the symptoms without addressing the causes.

The benefits to incorporating natural supplements in anxiety management extend past their effectiveness. 

In addition, natural supplements have the following attributes:

  • Not addictive like pharmaceutical anxiety medication
  • Shown to produce little to no side effects or withdrawal symptoms
  • Easier to moderate
  • Less likely to contribute to personality changes
Deciding to use natural supplements to treat anxiety is not without its risks. Speaking with a holistic or nutritional professional can help to determine which compounds are lacking in the body and how best to move forward with a supplement