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Supplements to treat Anxiety and Stress

Table of contents

    1. What is anxiety and how can we treat it?
    2. What are the most frequent symptoms of anxiety?
    3. Benefits of nutritional supplements for treating anxiety
    4. GABA, the neurotransmitter that increases well-being
    5. Rhodiola rosea or Golden root
    6. L-Theanine
    7. Who benefits from nutritional supplements against anxiety?
    8. Do dietary supplements against anxiety have side effects?
    9. Contraindications of dietary supplements for anxiety
    10. Why is it convenient to take nutritional supplements for anxiety?

What is anxiety and how can we treat it?

Substances like L-theanine, GABA and Rhodiola rosea are the best treatment for anxiety problems.

Experiencing a feeling like anxiety can be a normal reaction to new situations, such as divorce, moving, or a decision that affects your job or professional career.

However, when the anxiety lasts a long time, without the existence of these triggering external factors, it may have a negative effect on our body.

Fear is a natural reaction to a threat. When a threat takes place our body instinctively can experiment a reaction to fight or flee, which will cause the release of hormones and neurotransmitters in our body.

This type of response is a natural biological process for survival when facing a danger or potential risk.

Nevertheless, when someone has prolonged anxiety, clinical studies have shown that the uncontrolled hyperactivity that it causes, reduces the efficiency of the response to fight back or flee. This may result in changes in the brain functions and in the mental state of well-being.

What are the most frequent symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety is caused by a response to flight or flee, from a danger, that surpasses a normal reaction. The symptoms may be physical or psychological.

The most common physical symptoms are:

  • Tachycardia
  • Feeling sick
  • Tremors
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Hyperventilation

The most common psychic symptoms are:

  • Confusion
  • Loss of memory
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling tension and permanent worry
  • Nervousness 
  • Difficulty for falling asleep or restless sleep
  • Fatigue

Those who suffer from fear for a prolonged time can experiment any of these problems, which can impact our general health and affect our life quality.

Anxiety may be an underlying symptom of other more serious psychological disorders, such as:

  • Phobias
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social phobia or unfounded fear of certain social situations
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or uncontrollable impulse to think or do certain things

Anxiety disorders are diagnosed based on the diagnostic criteria for psychological disorders (known as DSM-V).

Benefits of nutritional supplements for treating anxiety

Clinical studies have shown that dietary supplements can be the best treatment for nervous tension. Some supplements can help to control the normal reaction to fight or flee, and strengthen mental health.

According to clinical trials, dietary supplements with the following active ingredients can help to reduce anxiety:

  • Glycine, an amino acid that improves brain function.
  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that can relax brain hyperactivity.
  • Tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor of neurotransmitters and has a calming effect.
  • L-theanine guarantees the release of neurotransmitters and increases GABA activity in the brain.
  • Taurine helps improve nerve function by activating receptors in the brain.
  • L-lysine, an amino acid precursor of stress neurotransmitters, that plays an important role in the reaction to fear.
  • Ashwagandha, helps the body to adapt to nervous tension.
  • Golden Root (Rhodiola rosea) can help in stressful situations, it increases mental performance and improves mood.
  • Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that has a calming effect and, therefore, anxiolytic action.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate), which helps the nervous system and soothes headaches.
  • Magnesium, a mineral that relaxes muscles and activates the nervous receptors of GABA in the brain.

GABA, the neurotransmitter that increases well-being

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that reduces the hyperactivity of the brain and calms nerves. This neurotransmitter has a relaxing effect and intervenes in the activation of glutamate, as well as reducing nervous tension.

According to clinical studies, GABA can not pass the brain-blood barrier. How ever:

an increase of GABA levels can help to control anxiety.

The release of GABA can also be produced by taurine, L-theanine, vitamin B6 and magnesium.

Gaba contributes to:

  • Reducing the body's response to nervous tension
  • Inhibiting the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain
  • Achieving a state of calmness quickly and increasing serotonin levels

Rhodiola rosea or Golden root

The golden root (American Rhodiola rosea) is a plant that helps increase performance and has other effects, such as improving the state of mind derived from nervous tension.

A clinical study showed that people who took Rhodiola for 10 weeks, with minimal side effects, experienced fewer anxiety problems. The participants in the study had been diagnosed, according to DSM-V criteria, with generalized anxiety disorder.

According to the researchers, Rhodiola rosea improves mood, performance and attention, and is therefore a natural alternative, better than medication, to relieve tension and depression. The effects of Rhodiola are produced by normalizing the body's natural response to stressors.

Rhodiola rosea may help:

  • To reduce tension, fatigue and irritability
  • To treat Chronic Anxiety Disorders
  • To normalize the response to stressors


L-Theanine is an amino acid that is contained in green tea and has soothing and relaxing effects. L-Theanine is one of the most popular remedies for treating anxiety. It helps to increase concentration and, at the same time, helps to calm nervousness.

L-theanine increases the release of the neurotransmitter GABA and reduces nerve stimulation of the brain.

A small double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that people taking L-theanine at different times reduced the symptoms of nervous tension compared to participants who received placebo.

According to the researchers, L-theanine decreases heart rate, and also inhibits the release of adrenaline from sympathetic nervous system and the increase of heart rate, typical of anxiety problems.

L-theanine helps to:

  • Have a better concentration
  • Increase serotonin
  • Produce alpha waves in the brain, which are associated with relaxation and concentration

Who benefits from nutritional supplements against anxiety?

Reducir y controlar los niveles de estrés y ansiedad

If you can not remove the worries and concerns from your life style, the treatment with plant extracts and dietary supplements that we have referred to, is the best option to control, naturally, nervous tension.

These food supplements help people that have some of these problems:

  • If you have difficulties coping with stressful situations.
  • If you have excessive concerns on a continuous basis, that keep you in tension.
  • If you tend to behave excessively to avoid stressful situations.
  • If you suffer panic attacks.
  • If you have physical or mental anxiety problems.

Do dietary supplements against anxiety have side effects?

An excessively high dose of GABA can produce fatigue. However, this can be solved by reducing the dosage.

Rhodiola rosea and L-theanine are completely safe and no type of side effects have been described, even when taken on a continuous basis. For this reason they are a natural alternative for the treatment of nervous tension problems.

Contraindications of dietary supplements for anxiety

It is recommended to previously consult a doctor before taking dietary supplements against anxiety, in cases of pregnant or lactating women, and children. Because the studies on the effects of the intake of GABA, Rhodiola rosea and L-theanine supplements in these population groups have not been sufficiently contrasted.

Care must also be taken before taking GABA supplements in the case of people who suffer from renal or hepatic diseases, or people who take medications for the nervous system, as those drugs may include barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

In any case, if you are taking other medications and are not sure on the convenience of taking this type of dietary supplement you should previously consult a doctor or pharmacist.

Why is it convenient to take nutritional supplements for anxiety?

The anxiety that does not arise from a specific, one-off, problem, and that lasts a long period of time can have repercussions on mental health.

Fear is a natural response to dangerous situations, but if you suffer from uncontrolled fear, dietary supplements can help calm this situation and are much more natural than medications.

Dietary supplements, in addition to serving to control fear, also help treat the following problems:

  • To reduce levels of stress hormone
  • Improve mood and increase serotonin
  • To have more energy
  • To have more satisfactory relationships
  • Reduce negative thoughts, concerns and avoid the anticipation of future problems
  • Improve the quality of life in general
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