The 7 best supplements for stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety are likely two things every human being deals with daily. Between work, kids, getting your exercise in, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the million other things we have going on…well, I will just bet a lot of hair tearing out is occurring from stress and anxiety.

There are a ton of ways to naturally relieve stress like exercise, meditation, and perhaps doing the mattress mambo with your significant other but sometimes even those things may not be enough to keep your mind from racing or freaking out.

If the natural stress relievers are not working for you it may be time to consider some scientifically validated supplements that can help you obtain the inner peace of a Buddhist monk.

In this article we will take an in-depth look at some of these supplements, tell you what they are, how they work, how much to take, and if there are any side effects.

Top natural supplements for stress and anxiety

Click on each for all the info you’ll ever need on each of these ingredients.

  1. Ashwagandha
  2. Lemon Balm Extract
  3. Phosphatidylserine
  4. L-Theanine
  5. Rhodiola Rosea
  6. 5-HTP
  7. Hops Flower Extract

Daily dosage recommendations:

  1. Ashwagandha: 300-500mg of a root extract with meals.
  2. Lemon Balm Extract: 300-1200mg
  3. Phosphatidylserine: 300mg
  4. L-Theanine: 200mg
  5. Rhodiola Rosea: 288-690mg
  6. 5-HTP: 300-500mg
  7. Hops Flower Extract: 300-500mg

All these ingredients and dosages can be found in SleepElite X Formulator’s Cut…yeah, yeah, yeah….I know it’s shameless plug but we’ve used all these ingredients because they work to help you calm the f#ck down…especially before bed.

 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each ingredient and tell you exactly how it works to reduce stress and anxiety.

Ashwagandha

What is it?/What are the benefits?

Ashwagandha is an herb that acts as an adaptogen. This means it can reduce anxiety, cortisol, and stress-induced insomnia. 

Other benefits include:

  • Enhances sleep quantity and quality
  • Combats insomnia
  • Helps stress-related food cravings
  • Improves memory and cognitive function

How much should I take?

300-500mg daily. More research is needed to determine if higher doses can provide greater benefits.

What does the research show?

A 2012 study conducted by Kapoor et al. discovered that subjects with chronic mental stress, who consumed 300mg of Ashwagandha daily for 60 days, were able to reduce serum cortisol by 28%.

Side effects

Currently, there is no research demonstrating that the natural sleep aid Ashwagandha has any negative side effects when dosed properly.

Lemon Balm Extract

What is it?/What are the benefits?

Lemon Balm is an herb used to promote calmness.  It is very effective at reducing stress and anxiety.

Other benefits include:

  • Regulates mood
  • Plays a crucial role in sleep patterns.

How much should I take?

On the low end, an efficacious dose of lemon balm extract is 300 milligrams, but higher doses may be needed to improve sleep quality.

One study suggests that 1200 milligrams gives three times as much benefit compared to 300 milligrams.

What does the research show?

A 2004 study conducted by Kennedy et al. showed subjects who ingested 600mg of Lemon Balm were able to reduce their stress levels and improve calmness during a lab controlled stress test.

Side effects

Currently, there is no research demonstrating that the natural sleep aid Lemon Balm has any negative side effects.

Phosphatidylserine

What is it?/What are the benefits?

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an amino acid derived agent that is a major phospholipid (fat soluble) of all cell membranes. It is very similar to fat and can be made by the body and consumed through what we eat.

Benefits include:

  • Improves symptoms of ADHD and mental stress in young people.
  • Decreases 
  • Improves sleep quality.
  • Reduces fatigue.
  • Decreases stress.
  • Increases brain processing speed and accuracy.

How much should I take?

When taken as a general “health” supplement, phosphatidylserine should be taken 3 times daily at a dose of 100mg (300mg total daily).

What does the research show?

A 1992 study conducted by Monteleone et. al discovered men who supplemented with 800mg of PS for 10 days were able to reduce the amount of circulating cortisol in their bodies. The researchers concluded that “chronic oral administration of phosphatidylserine may counteract stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in man

Side effects

As a whole, phosphatidylserine is a very safe supplement. Studies examining up to 600mg daily for 12 weeks have not been associated with any adverse effects.

L-Theanine

What is it?/What are the benefits?

Theanine is an amino acid that isn’t critical for normal metabolic processes, meaning you’d live just fine without it. 

Benefits include:

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Increases attention
  • Enhances mental performance
  • Lowers stress levels
  • Lowers cortisol
  • Relaxes the mind without drowsiness

How much should I take?

L-Theanine should be dosed at 100-200mg and is best consumed 30-60 minutes before bed or in anticipation of a stressful situation.

What does the research show?

A 2004 study conducted by Lu et al. discovered that subjects who consumed 200mg of L-Theanine before an anxiety test experienced less stress compared to the placebo group.

Side effects

Currently, there is no research demonstrating that L-Theanine has any negative side effects.

Rhodiola Rosea

What is it?/What are the benefits?

Rhodiola is a type of herb that is used as an adaptogen. It works by interacting with the activity and signaling of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other molecules in the brain.

Benefits include:

  • Reduces fatigue and burnout
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Enhances cognition
  • Improves mood
  • Decreases depression
  • Neuroprotective against toxins
  • Increases serotonin
  • Reduces corticosteroids

How much should I take?

Daily doses of 50mg should be used to prevent against general fatigue. 300-680mg should be used for anti-stress, anxiety, improved sleep, and endurance performance.

What does the research show?

In a randomized, unblinded trial subjects took 200mg of rhodiola twice a day for 14 days.  At the end of the study the researchers discovered that stress, anxiety, insomnia, and tension were all decreased compared to placebo.

Side effects

Overall, rhodiola appears to be safe when taken in normal doses. However, if you are on any prescription drugs you should consult with your doctor before taking rhodiola.

5-HTP

What is it?/What are the benefits

5-HTP is a byproduct of L-Tryptophan (the amino acid that can make you sleepy) that is turned into serotonin in your brain.

Benefits include:

  • Improves sleep
  • Combats night terrors
  • May help with depression
  • Reduces stressand anxiety

How much should I take?

The dosage used in most studies to provide the benefits listed above is 300-500mg daily. This dose can either be taken once or divided into two doses throughout the day.

What does the research show?

A 2010 study conducted by Emanuele et al. took 15 healthy subjects (11 females and 4 males) who recently experienced a breakup and were stressed out of their mind about it.

Researchers had the subjects take 60mg of 5-HTP daily for 6 weeks and were evaluated at baseline, at 3 weeks, and at the end of the 6-week supplemental period.

Using questionnaires and measuring serotonin levels, they found significant improvements in stress scores compared to baseline and increased platelet serotonin values.

Side effects

Overall, 5-HTP has very few side effects in a small percentage of the population. These side effects can include:

  • Nausea
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Vomiting

Hops Flower Extract

What is it?/What are the benefits?

Hops are the dried, flowering part of the hop plant. The compounds found in hops that help with stress/anxiety are sesquiterpenoids, diterpenoids, and triterpenoids, phytoestrogens, and the flavonoid xanthohumol.

Benefits include:

  • Combats insomnia
  • Improves sleep quality and quantity
  • Induces sedation
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Decreases anxiety
  • May decrease pain and inflammation

How much should I take?

The correct dosage of hops flower extract is 150-300mg at a 5:1 ratio of ethanolic extract.

What does the research show?

A 2017 study conducted by Kyrou et al. discovered that subjects who supplemented daily with hops for 4 weeks significantly decreased anxiety, depression, and stress scores compared to placebo.

Side effects

No negative side effects as indicated by the available research.

About the author:

Matt Mosman (MS, CISSN, CSCS) is a research scientist, endurance athlete, and the founder and Chief Endurance Officer at EndurElite. Matt holds his B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and his M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of California.  Matt and his family reside in Spearfish South Dakota, where they enjoy running, mountain biking, camping, and all the outdoor adventures Spearfish has to offer.

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