Natural Supplements and Treatments for Anxiety: What the Research Says About Supplements for Anxiety

hey guys Emma McAdam here today we're gonna
talk about natural options for treating anxiety now when people are looking to treat their
anxiety without medication what they usually mean is they wanna know what herbs and supplements
are gonna work for them and because I get asked this a lot I did a ton of research last
year on the topic so in this video I'm gonna go over 15 of the research backed natural
treatments for anxiety and these are treatments that have been shown to have a positive impact
on anxiety but I'm also gonna talk about a much more holistic approach to mental health
at the end of this video I'll list 7 other effective treatments for anxiety but this
video is mostly about supplements so let's talk about a couple of ways to combat anxiety
other than medication there's this incredibly widespread misconception
out there this idea that if you get diagnosed with depression or anxiety that means that
you were born with anxiety or depression and that it's so genetic that there's nothing
you can do about it now this is a misconception of course there's a biological factor but
there's about 20 other factors too it's not your fault but it is treatable so don't get
sucked into this unhelpful belief that you just have to suffer through life I go into
a lot more detail on this in my online course change your brain 10 alternatives to medication
to change brain chemistry and this course teaches you ways to change your thinking and
actions that actually change your brain chemistry so check out the link in the description but
in this video we're gonna talk about supplements so let's see what some of our non-medication
options for treatment are I'm gonna be referring to this long list that I have that is research
backed I've done a lot of research to make sure that this video is based on some of the
most rigorous and well researched information out there and so if you wanna download the
chart that I'm using or see my references hop on over to my website
first a couple of disclaimers number 1 I am not a doctor you should always work with a
doctor before making any changes to medication or supplements I am a therapist who reads
the research boils it down and shares it with people number 2 I am not anti-medication I
recommend to my clients that they consider the pros and cons of multiple treatment approaches
as we try to combat mental illness medication can be a very helpful option for many people
I just have a lot of clients who don't wanna use medication so I wanna make sure to help
them understand other treatment options caveat number 3 just because something is natural
does not mean it's safer or that it has less side effects snake venom lead and arsenic
are all natural substances that will poison or kill you and the thing about supplements
is they're not evaluated by the FDA so that means they haven't been rigorously tested
for purity safety or effectiveness an example of this was some homeopathic teething tablets
for babies these were sold on the shelves of Walmart and other stores and it turns out
they weren't pure enough some of them contained varying amounts of belladonna and because
of this some babies died so because supplements aren't regulated by the FDA these supplement
companies can make claims of all sorts of things that aren't backed by research so they
might not be true so just because something is natural does not mean that it's safer it
actually has less research behind it to regulate it so it actually has less regulation behind
it ok caveat number 4 many of the people purporting a certain supplement are also using mostly
anecdotal evidence so this means that their friend or their sister in law or someone that
they know used the supplement and it helped and while that may be true it's not enough
to determine if that's gonna be effective for the majority of people there's a lot of
other factors in action like the placebo effect this placebo effect occurs when people believe
that they're gonna get feeling better by taking something and so they do feel better it's
called the expectancy effect because when you expect that things are gonna feel better
then something changes in your system that makes you feel better for a while so it's
not actually the supplement or whatever you were taking it's the expectancy this belief
that you're gonna get feeling better that's actually creating the change so with many
supplements when people start taking them they report feeling better but it's at the
exact same levels of feeling better as someone taking a sugar pill meaning that the change
came from their belief and not from the substance I do believe plants and herbs can be helpful
but I also really don't like it when people selling oils or supplements promise more than
is backed by rigorous research there are so many claims out there so if you run a search
there'll be hundreds of supplements claiming to have benefits for anxiety and this from
CBD oil to lavender but the truth is there isn't enough research on most of them to know
if these are safe or effective so I'm gonna cover 15 supplements that at least have some
rigorous research and as far as the rest of these supplements go they just aren't backed
by solid research and that's the reason why most doctors aren't prescribing these other
supplements because there aren't big enough or rigorous enough trials to determine how
safe they are so good research includes multiple studies high numbers of participants randomized
groups so that means people assign them don't assign themselves to whether or not they take
that supplement the doctor or the researcher assigns them to random groups and they compare
those random groups with a placebo the other thing that good research does is it minimizes
bias and conflict of interest so that means that person running the study is not the same
person who's selling the supplement so for this reason controlled studies are expensive
and they're often really limited when it comes to supplements so most supplements don't have
good rigorous research behind them now we're about to start talking about which supplements
do have good research that shows they're helpful with anxiety but before that I just gotta
say if you wanna try any of these supplements work with your doctor but know that you're
basically running a little experiment on yourself now taking any kind of medication comes with
risks there's currently no way to know who's gonna experience side effects from Prozak
or Xanax the difference between medication and supplements is that medications approved
by the FDA have been shown through rigorous research to have a high enough benefit to
risk ratio ok so if you've made it through my disclaimers then you're ready for some
scientifically backed information not just hey this supplement worked for my sister in
law so that being said there are some supplements that have been shown to be effective so let's
talk about some of the research backed natural treatments for anxiety whew 2 pages of disclaimers
that's a lot ok so the first thing we're gonna talk about is vitamins so most essential micro
nutrients are absorbed through food and this is especially from food like fruits nuts and
vegetables for most people vitamins and supplements are actually a waste of money however some
people don't absorb vitamins well and others have poor diet or issues that lead them to
vitamin deficiency so a deficiency in vitamin A B6 B12 C D and E can all contribute to anxiety
and depression symptoms the best source for vitamins is a healthy diet high in plants
and low in processed food however vitamin D deficiencies are really common around 40
percent of Americans are D deficient and that is closely associated with depression so you
can get tested for D deficiencies and then you can choose to supplement with vitamin
D and getting sunlight also helps your body process and absorb vitamin D there's also
decent amounts of research showing that for some people supplementing with vitamin D B6
or B12 can have a positive impact on anxiety and depression also taking a multivitamin
has been shown to help with generalized anxiety disorder but one of the reasons that vitamins
are at the top of my list is that they're safe they're cheap and there are very few
side effects there are few downsides to taking a multivitamin every day ok next up in what
we're gonna talk about is magnesium magnesium is a common natural element it's essential
for hundreds of bodily functions so every single cell in your body needs magnesium to
perform it's day to day routine and magnesium assists with energy creation with protein
formation with gene maintenance and nervous cell regulation magnesium's naturally found
in food especially in dark leafy greens nuts avocados bananas and a deficiency in magnesium
can make a really big difference in one case study I heard about a woman started taking
calcium supplements and this depleted the magnesium in her body and when her magnesium
was really low she developed OCD symptoms that were really disabling when she worked
with her doctor and decreased the calcium and then increased the magnesium supplements
the symptoms went away so there's actually quite a bit of research showing positive effects
and that magnesium is relatively safe in a randomized controlled trial in depressed older
adults 440mg of magnesium daily improved mood as effectively as an antidepressant drug in
another study mice with magnesium deficiency were shown to be more anxious so more research
is needed but again magnesium is relatively safe and inexpensive one of the common side
effects of taking too much magnesium is that you'll get the runs but that's not the worst
side effect so it might be a supplement worth trying ok the next supplement we're gonna
talk about is zinc zinc is another naturally occurring element and you can get it from
your food but there have been a couple of studies showing that a zinc deficiency is
associated with OCD panic attacks and generalized anxiety and there's a couple studies showing that
supplementing with zinc has improved anxiety symptoms so again zinc is a relatively safe
supplement it's common it's easy to find it's inexpensive and has few side effects another
supplement that has been shown to be helpful with anxiety is fish oil or omega 3 so omega
3 fatty acids are really important for your body and brain few nutrients have been studied
as thoroughly as omega 3 fatty acids so it's been found to be very safe and studies show
kinda mixed results as to whether it's effective so some studies show positive impact on brain
health depression and anxiety and other studies show little to no benefit so my interpretation
of the benefits of fish oil is that some people are deficient and they really benefit while
the majority of people don't notice a difference the biggest downside of taking fish oil is
that fish oil harvesting can negatively impact the environment and the other thing that can
happen is you can get fish tasting burps which is pretty nasty but not super harmful ok so
now let's talk about another supplement now this one I'm kinda on the fence about but
it does have some decent research behind it it's kava it's also called kava kava it's
a member of the nightshade family of plants and it's native to the south pacific islands
pacific islanders have used it for hundreds of years as a ceremonial drink to promote
this state of relaxation more recently kava has received a lot of attention for it's relaxing
and stress reducing properties kava is one supplement that good amounts of research backing
it's effectiveness at treating anxiety so multiple studies that were properly conducted
with a large number of subjects found moderate improvement in anxiety symptoms the American
Family Physicians Journal and the Nutrition Journal reported a review of multiple studies
showing kava to be safe and effective however kava is metabolized through the liver and
there's the potential for liver damage so this led to the supplement being banned in
parts of Europe and Canada more recent research has shown the side effects to be very rare
but as a precaution you shouldn't take it with other medications that are metabolized
through the liver and it should be a short-term treatment using high quality supplements now
in general I'm less interested in supplements that seem that kind of suppress emotion than
I am in supplements that meet your nutritional deficiencies so that's why in general I tend
to be more of a proponent of vitamins and naturally occurring elements that meet a deficiency
than I am about supplements that kinda force you to feel calm so for example drug use like
marijuana or alcohol use those can help take away anxiety in the short term but what they're
really doing is just suppressing the anxiety reaction and I'm more interested in supplements
that help meet the need of our body's functioning make it function better and that that kind
of resolves anxiety in a more healthy way ok so the next supplement we're gonna talk
about is inositol so this is also known as vitamin B8 and it's naturally occurring in
food the US average diet includes about 1 gram a day but there were some studies testing
inositol they were supplementing with 12 to 8 grams so a lot more than the average person
eats and it actually has shown some pretty impressive results with relatively few side
effects so inositol is considered safe and it's found to be somewhat effective specifically
with panic disorder agoraphobia depression and OCD though more research really is needed
ok the next supplement we're gonna talk about is passionflower there are about 500 known
species of passionflower so it's this family of plants it's known as passiflora incarnata
and it may help treat anxiety and insomnia Native Americans have used passionflower to
treat a variety of conditions so this includes boils wounds earaches liver problems in Europe
people have used passionflower to treat restlessness and agitation for years and some people use
it to treat anxiety so traditionally it's considered a calming herb but the effects
of passionflower are milder than valerian root or kava so it's often mixed with other
herbs so passionflower has multiple studies showing mixed results one study of people
doing dental work showed positive results with low side effects and another study tested
passionflower as a way to ease anxiety before an operation and it showed passionflower to
be more helpful than a placebo but other studies have shown a really minimal effect so overall
the research is inconclusive one of the difficulties with passionflower and other herbal remedies
is that an herb is a really complex substance meaning so it's a lot of times it's mixed
in with active ingredients and a bunch of other effective or possibly toxic substances
so because it's not pure it's hard to know what's working and what isn't as of 2010 there
were 3 human trials that showed the effectiveness of passionflower as a treatment for anxiety
related disorders so passionflower has some decent research behind it but again it's hard
to get a pure does of it ok so the next supplement we're gonna talk about is valerian valerian
root is often referred to as nature's valium and this herb is actually been used since
ancient times to promote tranquility and sleep and although it has received a lot of positive
attention there's also some questions that have been raised about whether it's effective
and whether it's safe so people think that it may impact the gaba receptors and it might
impact the amygdala so this is the fear part of the brain and they think it works in a
similar way to valium and xanax so as with most of these supplements there really aren't
enough studies and enough participants in the studies to really evaluate the effectiveness
of valerian as a recommended treatment for anxiety however there is quite a bit of research
suggesting that valerian is helpful with insomnia and it has rare and fairly mild side effects
so valerian is a potential option you could try it yourself and see how it impacts you
the next supplement we're gonna talk about is chamomile so chamomile has been used for
thousand of years as a anti anxiety treatment and in animal trials it's been shown to have
an anti inflammatory and anti cancer properties and you know inflammation and anxiety are
closely related so there's good reason to believe that this can be an effective supplement
for anxiety but these results really haven't been tested in humans so there were 2 small
studies that showed mixed results 1 study showed that people taking saffron for general
anxiety disorder have less anxiety than the placebo group and another one showed that
the placebo did just as well as chamomile so results are pretty non convincing chamomile
is a blood thinner so you need to be cautious around that and some people also have allergic
reactions to it so I mentioned saffron we're gonna talk about saffron it's been used for
centuries to treat cramps depression and asthma 2 studies showed that it had a positive effect
on depression and anxiety in one study the participants took saffron by itself and the
other study combined its active ingredient with an antidepressant medication so research
showed that the group taking saffron did better than the placebo group or the medication only
group so there's some research showing that saffron can be effective with depression and
anxiety the side effects of saffron include dry mouth agitation drowsiness and low mood
and they're fairly rare so I would consider saffron one of those supplements you could
consider taking but I don't know if it would be at the top of my list k so the next supplement
we're gonna talk about this one's gotten a lot of hype lately is l-lysine and l-arginine
so these are essential amino acids that can be found in food and these are two supplements
that most likely have an impact on the neurotransmitters in your brain so they think that l-lysine
potentially impacts serotonin so this calms the brain's anxiety response and it possibly
decreases the stress hormone cortisol one study showed that participants were better
able to handle stress compared to the placebo group and the other study measured cortisol
in the body and found decreased levels of cortisol after taking these supplements so
this means decreased stress both studies used an l-lysine and an l-arginine combination
supplement but like most supplements there just aren't enough studies to determine how
effective these supplements are and to evaluate the risks but the evidence is pointing in
the direction that theses supplements may be helpful and there were no reported side
effects so you might wanna consider trying l-lysine and l-arginine and like all supplements
again work with your doctor to find out which of these might be best for you so gaba which
is gamma aminobutyric acid is a naturally occuring amino acid and it works as a neurotransmitter
in your brain gaba can help us calm down when it's released naturally in the brain and this
can help with feelings of anxiety and stress and fear and it can also help to prevent seizures
so as a result of these properties gaba has become a really popular supplement lately
and this is partly because it isn't available from very many food sources the only foods
that contain gaba are fermented ones like kimchi miso and tempeh so there is some evidence
in favor of a calming effect of gaba food supplements but most of this evidence was
reported by researchers who had a conflict of interest so basically this is a very little
researched supplement with evidence of a small positive effect on anxiety k so now let's
talk about l-theanine so l-theanine is an amino acid it's most commonly found in tea
leaves and in black tea you can also find a very small amount in bay bolete mushrooms
I do not know if I'm saying that right bay bolete it can be found in both black and green
tea and you can buy it as a pill or a tablet form at a lot of drug stores so there were
5 randomized controlled trials so that's the good kind of trial the good kind of research
with a total of 104 participants and they found that l-theanine reduced stress and anxiety
in people who were experiencing stressful situations so that's a good result right another
study found that it increased relaxation without causing drowsiness and that it reduced resting
heart rate so l-theanine has some limited research showing effectiveness and the only
side effects reported were those kind that related to caffeine so right now there's not
enough evidence to strongly recommend this supplement but I will tentatively say like
this might be worth trying ok so now we're gonna talk about one of the most popular natural
treatments out there St.

John's Wort and this this is a really popular natural treatment for depression
and it's also one of the most researched supplement out there there are dozens and dozens of high
quality studies showing that it is effective at treating mild to moderate depression and
many studies show that it's as effective as an antidepressant medication and some studies
even show less side effects or similar side effects to antidepressant medication so it
has not been shown to be effective for anxiety but since anxiety and depression are often
comorbid so that means that they're often experienced at the same time you might wanna
consider St. John's Wort and because of the quality and the quantity of the research I
feel a lot more confident about knowing what to expect with St. John's Wort and because
there's a lot of research we also know more about the side effects so St.

John's Wort
actually has similar side effects to SSRI's SSRI's are those antidepressant medications
like Prozac and Lexapro and this includes the side effect that it can interfere with
other medications so it can even interfere with anxiety medication so with these controlled
trials the side effects were comparable to placebos and fewer than antidepressants but
like all supplements St. John's Wort is not regulated by the FDA ok let's talk about another
supplement that is the opposite of helpful with anxiety and this is caffeine so caffeine
is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world most adults use caffeine every
single day but the effects of caffeine on the brain and nervous system can actually
be pretty destructive so caffeine crosses the blood brain barrier in minutes and it
shuts down the production of adenosine so adenosine is the relaxation and calming chemical
in the brain so when you shut that down that's why a lot of people feel more energy when
they drink caffeine but one cup of coffee can increase anxiety and it can impact sleep
for up to 48 hours so drinking a lot of caffeine or consuming caffeine can make you anxious
for up to 2 days if you're not sure of how caffeine is affecting you you could try going
without caffeine for 7 days and see what a difference it makes ok so you have made it
through this super long and somewhat technical video on anxiety supplements I'm including
a link to some of the best literature reviews in the description so this if you wanna read
the original research yourself check out the link in the description so if you'd like to
see my entire write up with attached foot notes or download my summary chart check out
my website now let's talk about a few other non medicinal treatments
so exercise has been shown to be more effective than medication at treating anxiety and depression
exercise changes your brain chemistry it runs your nervous system through this natural cycle
of excitement and relaxation and it's just it's really good for you so if you're experiencing
anxiety you may wanna consider adding exercise into your routine before you consider adding
you know a lot of supplements another completely non medicinal treatment that has been shown
to be really effective is therapy so cognitive behavioral therapy acceptance and commitment
therapy EMDR these are more effective long-term than medication alone another treatment that's
been shown to be effective is mindfulness and meditation so these have been shown to
change brain structure and chemistry meditation can teach emotion management skills and it
also turns on the parasympathetic side of your nervous system so the parasympathetic
side is this calming soothing relaxing aspect of your nervous system so another natural
way to improve your brain's functioning is to work on your gut health so your gut is
your second brain it produces 95 percent of the serotonin in your body so serotonin is
one of those neurotransmitters that's associated with happiness and that's what Prozac impacts
so 95 percent of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut and one of the ways
you can improve your gut health is by incorporating fermented foods probiotics prebiotics into
your diet so this is foods like yogurt and sauerkraut or other fermented foods and that
can that has been shown to be helpful with anxiety and depression another natural treatment
for anxiety and depression is improving your nutrition so I mean everyone pretty much knows
what they should be doing to have better nutrition eat less sugar have less processed foods eat
more vegetables more fruits and you know decrease how much meat and fat you eat and another
thing you can look at as far as nutrition goes some people have food allergies or food
intolerances and one that comes up a lot this decade is gluten so some people really do
have more anxiety when they're eating gluten other people this might just be a placebo
effect but you could try cutting gluten or sugar or even milk out of your diet just to
see if one of these common allergens is impacting your anxiety levels ok so there's 2 more treatments
that have been shown to be effective with anxiety and depression so another natural
way to treat anxiety is to train yourself to turn on your relaxation response so learning
to relax and calm down and when you learn to calm your body your body can tell your
brain that you're safe and can decrease anxiety so I've got a whole playlist on this on YouTube
it's an anxiety skills playlist so check that out if you wanna learn more of those relaxation
skills you can also learn to decrease anxiety through developing good life skills and habits
so these are things like developing a morning routine training yourself to monotask instead
of multitask doing good self care practicing facing and resolving problems and developing
good boundaries with other people and getting enough sleep so these are all things you can
work on with a therapist or you can just keep practicing on your own my online course Change
Your Brain goes into a lot more detail about these life skills and how they change brain
chemistry and how to create a well rounded approach to improving mental health so I've
got a link in the description with a coupon so check that out if you'd like to see more
videos about how you can treat depression anxiety and get better mental health overall
please just subscribe to get more content like this and you never know who might benefit
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