Anxiety can be a disabling condition that’s accompanied by long-term stress and a decline in overall health. It contributes to many chronic diseases, even when treated with conventional medications. That’s why we need to use natural remedies for anxiety and other mood disorders that address the root of the problem instead of putting a Band-Aid on your anxiety symptoms.
In fact, anxiety can affect people of all ages, with a lifetime prevalence between 4.3 percent and 5.9 percent. In addition, 40 percent to 60 percent of people with anxiety experience signs of depression, which makes it an even more serious and difficult condition to treat properly.
Research shows that people with anxiety have difficulty successfully achieving short- or long-term remission, with remission rates remaining as low as 38 percent after five years.
The good news is that there are many natural remedies for anxiety that are safe and don’t cause adverse side effects like so many anti-anxiety medications. By eating a clean and well-balanced diet that contains important nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium and omega-3s, and using essential oils for anxiety, you may notice an immediate difference in your mood, energy levels and sleep patterns.
There are natural remedies for anxiety to try as well.
1. Eat a Clean and Well-Balanced Diet
Several studies show that there is a connection between diet choices and psychology, physiology and behavior. Dietary choices impact a person from the moment he or she is born to adult life.
Consuming too many or too few calories can increase anxiety symptoms and other psychological or emotional disorders. Also, a poor diet can lead to many anxiety symptoms, including moodiness, fatigue and abnormal blood sugar levels that cause nervousness and jitters.
A poor diet can also lead to weight gain, and this can impact your body image and bring on feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods can be a natural remedy for anxiety because they are important for neurotransmitters synthesizing and balancing your mood and stress response. In addition, it’s also important to eat healthy fats, unrefined carbohydrates and lean protein.
To improve anxiety symptoms, make sure to add vitamin B foods, magnesium-rich foods, foods high in calcium and omega-3 foods to your diet too, including:
- wild-caught fish (like salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish and herring)
- grass-fed beef
- organic chicken
- nutritional yeast
- yoghurt or kefir
- leafy greens (like spinach, kale, chard and collard greens)
- fresh vegetables (like celery, bok choy, broccoli, beets and artichokes)
- fresh fruits (like blueberries, pineapple, banana and figs)
- sea vegetables
- healthy fats (like avocado, coconut oil and olive oil)
- beans (such as black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas, and fava beans)
- legumes (like lentils and peas)
- nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, and cashews)
- seeds (including flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds)
- unrefined grains (like farro, quinoa, and barley)
2. Avoid Sugary and Processed Foods
High glycemic index foods, such as sugar and refined carbohydrates, can cause anxiety and depression. These foods cause mood swings, alter energy levels, and alter brain structure and neurotransmitter function. To maintain normal blood sugar levels and improve anxiety symptoms, avoid refined foods like baked goods, sweetened beverages, fast foods, fried foods, processed meat, and refined grains. The keto diet, a high-fat, low-carb diet, has been found to lower anxiety risk in animals.
3. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, such as moodiness, nervousness, and jitters. A study revealed that abstaining from alcohol decreases the risk of anxiety. To alleviate anxiety, it is advisable to either completely avoid alcohol or restrict consumption to one to three drinks per week, with no more than two at a time. Individuals with panic disorder and social anxiety are especially susceptible to the impact of caffeine. It is recommended to limit coffee or black tea intake to one cup per day.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
Although anxiety is characterized by excessive worrying and tension, other physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety include:
- muscle tension
- chest tightness
- heart palpitations
- high blood pressure
- digestive problems
- panic attacks
- difficulty concentrating
- inability to socialize
Ashwagandha is a natural remedy that helps stabilize the body’s response to stress. Studies show significant improvement in symptoms with ashwagandha therapy. It also protects the brain from degeneration and reduces fatigue, improving focus and fighting anxiety without side effects like most medications.
5. Kava Root
Kava root is a nonaddictive and non-hypnotic anxiolytic treatment for anxiety, improving mood, easing anxiety, and boosting sociability. A randomized controlled trial in Australia found it safe for generalized anxiety disorder treatment. A meta-analysis by Cochrane found significant effects with mild side effects. Take kava under healthcare guidance, avoid alcohol consumption, and be aware of common side effects like headache, drowsiness, and diarrhea.
6. 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)
Supplementing with 5-HTP, synthesized from tryptophan, can help treat issues associated with, including trouble sleeping, moodiness, and headaches. 5-HTP increases serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep patterns.
Studies show that 5-HTP therapy is associated with a significant reduction in symptoms due to its calming effects. However, it’s important not to take 5-HTP with any prescription anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications.
7. GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid)
GABA, an amino acid, decreases in the nervous system and relaxes muscles. It’s used for various conditions, including PMS, insomnia, blood pressure, ADHD, fat burning, and pain relief. Anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Valium increase GABA levels in the brain. GABA supplements and valerian root can also help calm symptoms.
Magnesium plays many important roles in the body, and magnesium deficiency is one of the leading deficiencies in adults. If you’re struggling with anxiety, you may want to try taking a magnesium supplement.
Magnesium helps relax your muscles and calm the nervous system. Also, it’s vital for GABA function and regulating certain hormones that are crucial for calming the brain and promoting relaxation.
Magnesium is commonly used to combat anxiety, poor digestion, muscle spasms and trouble sleeping. Look for magnesium in citrate, chelate and chloride, which are forms that the body absorbs better.
However, be aware that too much magnesium can cause diarrhoea, so be careful with the dose. Because of this, start with smaller amounts of magnesium, and work your way up to a dose that’s effective for you.
9. Vitamin B Complex to reduce anxiety
B vitamins help combat stress and stabilize your mood. Vitamin B6, in particular, serves as a natural remedy for anxiety because it works to boost mood, balance blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy nervous system. In fact, symptoms of a vitamin B6 deficiency include anxiety, irritability, depression, changes in mood, muscle pains and fatigue.
In addition, vitamin B12 is also important for fighting chronic stress, mood disorders and depression. It helps improve your concentration and energy levels and allows your nervous system to function properly. (20)
10. Lavender Oil to ease anxiety
Lavender oil has been found to reduce and relax the body. A study in Germany found Silexan, an oral lavender oil capsule, to be just as effective as benzodiazepine, a medication. Using lavender oil topically, diffusing it, inhaling it, or adding it to warm bath water can induce calmness and relieve symptoms.
11. Roman Chamomile
Roman chamomile essential oil is used to calm nerves and reduce due to its mild sedative and relaxation properties. Inhaling it triggers the brain, helping fight symptoms. Studies show that orally, it reduces symptoms. It’s gentle enough for children to use as a natural remedy.
If you choose to use any of these natural remedies for anxiety, do so under the guidance of your healthcare provider. Also, make sure that he or she knows what other medications you are taking in order to avoid dangerous interactions.
For example, some of these natural remedies, including kava root, 5-HTP, and GABA, do interact with commonly prescribed anti-depression medications. Do not use these supplements or herbs along with prescribed drugs.
- Anxiety, a common mental health condition, is a “fight or flight” response to stress or dangerous situations. It is difficult to achieve short- or long-term remission, with remission rates remaining as low as 38% after five years. Conventional treatments include psychotropic drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy, but natural remedies like magnesium, GABA, and vitamin B complex, herbs, essential oils, and lifestyle changes are also effective.