6 natural supplements that’ll help balance anxiety, according to experts

While this has been an unprecedented year full of uncertainty, stress and challenges, this has also been a year of conscious consumption and lifestyle changes. With information available on how to fight the virus internally, we have been exercising and eating mindfully to boost our immunity—and looking for ways to combat anxiety in the safest and most well-balanced manner possible.

Mumbai-based counselling psychologist Tanya Percy Vasunia agrees that natural supplements for anxiety and even depression have become popular. “What I have seen in my experience of working with a number of clients is lot of them have reported an improvement of mood after taking natural and dietary supplements,” she says. However, she is quick to add that these are also patients who are not severe on the spectrum. “The risk of not taking allopathy at a severe stage is that it could lead to self-harm. But it is undeniable that as people are moving towards holistic health, supplements are here to stay. The key lies in not self-medicating and always checking with your GP before you start on something new,” adds Vasunia. Here are our top five recommendations to calm the mind and fight anxiety.

1. Magnesium

Green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, tofu and whole grains provide magnesium which is needed for regulating muscle and nerve function, maintaining blood sugar levels and stabilising our emotional responses. An important aspect of coping with stress is to learn to manage intense emotions like anger or sadness, which can have a negative impact on overall wellbeing. Magnesium is known to play a key role in regulating the stress response system. As it increases the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, which encourages relaxation as well as sleep. “I have observed magnesium working very well for those with mild to moderate levels of anxiety,” adds Vasunia.

2. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha can be consumed in the form of capsules, tablets or powder. “It has been used since centuries as a powerful adaptogen which helps to manage stress levels. It is one of the few herbs with significant effects on both psychological and physiological aspects of human functioning,” says Dr Manoj Kutteri, Wellness Director of Atmantan Wellness Centre. The medicinal herb appears to help lower levels of cortisol, the hormone produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress. It also contains the compound triethylene glycol, which promotes sleep.

3. Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone which our brain produces in response to darkness and helps to regulate the circadian rhythm. It prepares the body for sleep and hence melatonin supplements are great for those who are suffering from anxiety-induced insomnia. A surge in melatonin production is a sign for the body to go in a restful phase. However, one can have low levels of melatonin due to low levels of direct sunlight, increased exposure to blue light, deficiency in nutrients and stress. “Hence supplementing this hormone leads to a balanced sleep-awake cycle which is a boon for someone too wired to fall sleep,” says Vasunia.

4. L-theanine

L-theanine is able to impact the activity and concentrations of serotonin and dopamine, which can affect mood, sleep and emotional wellbeing. They are also involved with the production of cortisol. L-theanine decreases excitatory hormones and neurotransmitters, which encourage a sense of calm. It’s even been known to lower stress-related blood pressure and heart rate.

5. St John’s Wort

This plant has been used for medicinal purposes in natural systems of healing for long, and has a strong reputation in treating anxiety and even symptoms of depression. “St John’s wort is effective herbal supplement to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), mild anxiety and sleep problems. It has an effect on various neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA and dopamine and helps the brain to use them more effectively,” says Dr Kutteri.

6. Brahmi

Brahmi has been used as a memory enhancer in Ayurveda. “It is known to boost the liver functions and also to prevent inflammation in the body. The presence of nitric oxide in Brahmi helps to improve mental health and also to treat insomnia. Like other medicinal herbs, this can be taken in the form of extracts or infusions,” adds Dr Kutteri. Brahmi enhances concentration and memory, both which are compromised due to flight or flight response triggered due to the stress-hormone, cortisol.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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