By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND
There are several natural supports for mild to moderate mood disorders, though talk to your medical or naturopathic doctor first as they can interact with pharmaceuticals or other supplements, to sometimes life-threatening extent. The natural supplements with the most research are discussed below.
B vitamins help in a variety of our physiological processes and I especially like using them for hormone, metabolic and neurotransmitter issues (which constitutes many things in the human body!). A good B complex dose should “calmly energize” a person – not a caffeine-induced, jittery energy, but the feeling of having a really good sleep. Speaking of sleep, while B’s are often taken in the morning, they should help regulate the sleep cycles in the body too, so they become doubly helpful for anxiety in this regard.
Magnesium is a relaxant to smooth muscles which can improve the feelings of anxiety or for pre-menstrual tension. Note that magnesium can loosen the bowels, so dosing should be monitored accordingly. Ideally, magnesium is taken in a liquid or powder form for best absorption. There are a few types of magnesium, though recently magnesium glycinate has become a popular form that relates itself specifically to calming effects.
L-theanine & GABA
L-theanine is an extract from green tea that can lower cortisol levels and provide quick, though usually temporary, relief from anxiousness.
GABA is another quick fix for anxious moments, and also tends to be short-lasting. Both L-theanine and GABA can help manage symptoms until the underlying issues are addressed. Low levels of this inhibitory neurotransmitter have been linked to chronic pain, epilepsy and mood disorders, so some do feel the positive of effects of supplementing. Interactions are common with this product, not only with anxiety medications, but potentially others, such as blood pressure prescriptions and it’s important to note that side effects are not well studied.
Plants with calming properties can be helpful in tea or supplement form, though allergies are common, especially to Chamomile. Other common herbs that may induce relaxation are valerian, mint, hops and passionflower. I tend to find herbal medicines in tea too low a dose to help with significant anxiety, or that the person with anxiety needs to be evaluated for hormones, thyroid function, blood sugar issues, or nutritional deficiencies. Herbal medicines for calming are perhaps a better fit for unwinding after a strenuous day or event, whereas anxiety disorders require an in-depth assessment with individualized treatment.
So often, feelings of anxiety are at least partially contributed to by imbalanced hormones, poor blood sugar control/low blood sugar, or nutritional deficiencies due to dietary gaps or digestive disorders.
Be sure to consult a professional if anxiety is an issue for you to ensure you get the help that you need.
*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.