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 from information like this so please share

this video thank you for watching and take care