- Magnesium. Pills are okay as long as they’re not magnesium oxide. Dose can go up to 400mg per day (maybe more). I think taking a bath with Epsom salts is a good way to absorb it.
- L-Theanine/EGCg/green tea. These are all green tea related and are known to increase GABA, which should help a lot with anxiety. I take EGCg. There’s some debate over whether you should use the decaf kind. My conclusion from all the studies was that taking the decaf type of green tea extract probably didn’t work as well as regular. There seems to be some synergistic effect with caffeine and the other 2 active ingredients.
- Culturelle. This is a probiotic. The strain used in it has been shown to reduce anxiety. My only issues with it is that it’s a relatively small dose (10 billion CFU’s…a lot of people are like me and need waaaaayyyy more than that) and this strain of probiotics is kind of fragile. I handled this by taking other types of probiotics and being sure to take them every day.
- Choline/CDP Choline/Phosphatidyl choline/Phosphatidyl serine- A lot of people have genetic tendencies to have cell membranes that degrade over time. They lack enough choline and then their function declines- energy production/respiration, removal of waste products and transmission of nerve signals. This has been associated with a lot of chronic conditions, especially neurological ones like ALS, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, MS, Parkinson’s. I take choline every day and although some people say plain choline won’t work, the first time I took it, my anxiety levels went way down immediately. A lot of people say phosphatidyl choline or phosphatidyl serine work better, but these are more expensive. Choline is often sold in combination with inositol, another B-vitamin-like supplement that’s known to help anxiety. I like GNC or TwinLab brands.
- Omega-3’s. But you have to use the right kind and enough of them. For some people, especially those prone to anxiety, depression, ADHD and any neurological condition, larger doses are required. It’s not clear if their bodies burn through more of it, can’t absorb it or what. I take GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil. Nordic Naturals is also a decent brand. It needs to be fish derived, not flax or algae. It has to have EPA and DHA (about 2:1), not just DHA.
I recommend these supplements for anxiety and anxiety disorders as well, but they aren’t my absolute must-have’s:
- Spicy stuff, like cayenne/capsaicin. There’s a link between physical and emotional pain. Chronic anxiety and depression has been shown to be blocked somewhat by hot foods, especially hot peppers. If you can stomach them, go nuts. I can’t, so I take cayenne pills. By the time I added capsaicin/cayenne, though, I was already on a ton of meds and supplements, so it was really hard to tell (for me, personally) how much this helped me. Still, the research on it is pretty good and if you like spicy stuff anyway, eat up.
- B Vitamins. A deficiency of B vitamins (especially B12) will contribute to anxiety and is pretty common.
- SAM-e. The only reason this one isn’t in the “highly recommend” category is it’s expensive and it is more helpful to people with the same genetic mutation I have (the MTHFR gene…yes, that’s really its name and yes, it really is a motherfucker). About 40% of the population has one or both copies of this gene, so it’s pretty common. This supplement is kind of fragile- it might not be good past its expiration and is heat/air/light sensitive. Anyway, it’s S-adenosyl methionine, a really basic cofactor for tons of processes in the body. SAM-e has been proven to help with anxiety, depression and joint pain (especially arthritis).
- Folic Acid. My psychiatrist recommended this to me. He said take 800mg divided in 2 doses and make sure it’s folic acid, not “folate”. However, I have since read that folate or methylfolate is superior. In the end, I’ve found methylfolate to work better for me, probably because I have the MTHFR gene mutation. If you’ve tried any of the folic acid supplements, be it folic acid, folate or methylfolate, without any relief of anxiety syptoms, I’d highly recommend trying the other two types.
The Internet Recommends:
- Kava kava. This has lots of high reviews for effectiveness against anxiety. What usually keeps people from taking it is that it may interact with other medications/supplements.
- 5-HTP. This supplement also has a lot of high reviews online for helping with anxiety, which makes sense because it is the precursor to serotonin. Like kava kava, though, this one can interact with certain medications. I’d recommend talking to a pharmacist before taking it.
- Valerian. Lots of good reviews online for anxiety.
- Melatonin. For sleep, with the logic being that a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality will contribute to anxiety. Also, low serotonin is associated with anxiety. Serotonin is converted to melatonin, so trouble sleeping and anxiety could be a sign of low serotonin. 5-HTP raises serotonin, but since it interacts, it’s not an option everyone can take. Melatonin doesn’t have the same interaction issues.
- Ashwagandha. Lots of good reviews for anxiety treatment.
Other Notes that May Help with Treating Anxiety:
- Inflammation. If this is contributing to anxiety, anti-inflammatory substances will help. I like curcumin. It’s pretty awesome anyway…you can just eat lots of Indian food and smell like curry or you can take nano-curcumin (LifeExtension brand) or curcumin with black pepper extract (Doctor’s Best brand has one). I don’t think plain turmeric or curcumin is good enough unless you eat/take it often because your liver clears it pretty fast.
- Liver. I have found that suboptimal liver function causes all sorts of neurological effects. The good thing is that supplements to fix this are not so expensive. Milk thistle is a good one (cheap-ass Spring Valley brand works). So is taurine (NOW Foods brand). One friend of mine noticed that drinking Red Bull made her feel particularly good- even all the caffeine couldn’t explain the reduction in anxiety and depression she got from it. It turned out it was the taurine in Red Bull that was doing it for her. I’m not saying go drink Red Bull! I’m saying try taurine and see if it helps. Oh, and NAC (N-acetylcysteine) and/or whey protein is great for glutathione production.
- Heavy metals. Most people’s bodies eliminate heavy metals okay. But a large minority can’t. And some people have been exposed to more heavy metals than they realize. This is especially true if you have or have ever had silver fillings, dental crowns or root canals. If you’ve ever been near a broken mercury thermometer or played with mercury. The vapors are the big concern…strangely, if you swallowed the stuff, it would do less harm than the vapor. Anyway, the body holds onto heavy metals. This will cause lots of neurological dysfunction later. The solution is chelation, but there’s a lot of debate about the right way to chelate. If you have a really serious heart or neurological problem, a doctor can give you an IV of EDTA or some other crap and it will rip all the heavy metals out of your body. A lot of people (including me) think this is a pretty sudden change to put the body through and chelation is better done gradually. That will take 6 months to 1.5 years. You would take 300 to 600mg of alpha lipoic acid (a supplement) in addition to chlorella. You’d start out with about 500mg of chlorella and gradually increase it until you’re taking 3000 to 4000mg of chlorella daily, spread out over the day. If your poop turns green, back off the chlorella for a week to give the body a break. Drinking Propel water may be helpful, since it has EDTA and B vitamins in it. Hitting the sauna 2-4 times a week would be VERY helpful and would produce immediate benefits in symptom reduction. More on saunas below.
- Old root canals and devitalized teeth. Ohhhh, this is my latest soap box. After I had an old root canaled tooth pulled and went off birth control, I’ve been getting rid of chronic Lyme disease (and co-infections) at lightning speed. Lots of people have root canals. Those provide a hide-out for bacteria…one small front tooth has over 3 miles of tubules behind the enamel. With no root/no blood supply, bacteria can hide here and avoid the immune system. The same bacteria are regularly found in organs after death (especially the heart and kidneys). This is skipping the fact that until a few years ago, root canals were sanitized with a 35-50% formaldehyde solution. Then they are filled with an amalgam that is 50% mercury and has been proven to off-gas in your mouth every time you bite down. And…then there’s the dental crown. Those might be okay, as long as they’re not made in China. A lot of crowns are made in China and the dentist doesn’t usually even know because dentists usually have a lab create the crown. There are no laws that labs or dentists have to tell you the crown was made in China even if they know. The crowns made in China have made people really sick because they have high lead content (in porcelain) and high heavy metal content in metal ones. I was unsure it was the right choice when I had my (no-longer-painful) root canaled molar pulled. Given all this information and my subsequent sudden response to all the antibiotics I’ve been on for years…I am convinced removing amalgam fillings and infected root canaled teeth is a must if you have any chronic disease. Okay, end of rant!
- Sauna. I got to admit, I thought saunas were nonsense until I tried one. My skin cleared up, my hair grew back in thicker and there was a huge decrease in all my tick-borne disease symptoms. Lots of theories as to why saunas work. I think it takes a lot of pressure off the liver and kidneys because the skin can excrete waste products far faster in a sauna. This can be the equivalent of 24 hours of work that the kidneys do, so you can imagine what a load off that is for them. Saunas also get hot, which lots of bacteria and viruses cannot withstand. On the skin and extremities, they will die. The heat will induce an artificial fever in the body and help it kill off any internal bugs. All that sweating keeps your skin in good shape and lots of people use saunas to make their skin look younger and healthier. Drink lots of water before and after!
- Infrared. Infrared light or heat exposure induces the production of beta waves in the brain. It’s very calming to sit under an infrared lamp. You can get an effect from as little as five minutes and it will last for awhile after. It is a short term thing, though. Wear tanning goggles wrapped in aluminum foil and get under an infrared bulb. Or use an infrared sauna.
- Glutamate vs. GABA. Most people focus on GABA to calm anxiety. That works, but they forget the flip side of the coin- GABA quells glutamate in the brain. So anything that blocks the action of glutamate will reduce anxiety. Magnesium does this. There are also prescription meds that do it. I take memantine (Namenda), which does lessen anxiety. It can make you feel kind of disconnected, though.
- Acupressure. I’ve been doing acupuncture for immune function. The doctor who does it told me to do acupressure twice a day for points associated with immune health. I know a lot of people who have used acupuncture for anxiety and pain, both on themselves and their dogs. It seems to work at least half the time. It’s worth a shot to try acupressure…it’s free if you find the acupoints to use from online.
- Or, you could do EEG Biofeedback/Neurofeedback. Highly, highly recommend! If you just want the problem solved fast, there is no medication that has the same level of effectiveness. And no medication that has such low side effects and risks. Your insurance may pay for it.
- Yoga and/or Meditation. This is well-established to help with anxiety, as well as with many different chronic diseases.