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August 4th 2021 / 0 comment
Feeling more anxious than normal? Us too. Give your body and mind a helping hand to cope with anxiety with these mental health-boosting supplements
In these trying times all the self care acts in the world sometimes aren’t enough to soothe a busy mind and you might want to reach for supplements to ease stress and anxiety. But can specific supplements and herbs help make us feel less anxious? Alone, no, but they could help strengthen defences physically to ensure we’re more mentally prepared to tackle its effects.
“Anxiety can present itself in many different ways, from feeling sick in the stomach to a full blown panic attack,” says nutritional therapist and GTG Expert Zoe Stirling. “It’s becoming increasingly common. Firstly, it’s important to highlight that anxiety and anxiety disorders can manifest for so many different reasons and therefore treating it will differ in nutritional, lifestyle and supplementary approaches from one person to the next. The root of anxiety may be due to stress, poor sleep or a lifestyle high in stimulants. It’s therefore important to note that managing anxiety is best done through a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes with a targeted supplement plan, best designed by a nutritional therapist.”
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all, but there are some nutrients, vitamins and minerals that could make a difference depending on the cause of your anxiety. Here are the top picks from Zoe and from Shabir Daya, pharmacist and co-founder Victoria Health.
While we’re all feeling the effects of the current state of the world, it could be wise to step away from your regular morning coffee, as Zoe points out.
“Your cup of coffee may be doing far more damage than you might think, especially if you’re susceptible to anxiety. Ashwagandha is a herb that feeds the body and mind and is known to calm the body, as well as giving you natural energy (not that wired feeling you get after stimulants).”
Drink an ashwagandha spiked drink in the morning instead of coffee and see how your anxiety levels fare. Ancient + Brave’s hot chocolate style Cacao and Collagen, £22 for approx 25 servings, blends a dose of collagen and ashwagandha into a warming drink that nourishes from within. It has a slightly bitter, cinnamon taste so ideal if hot chocolate is too sweet for you. It has 200mg of ashwagandha per 10g serving.
“Magnolia Rhodiola Complex is a herbal supplement to alleviate stress, anxiety and low mood by lowering cortisol levels within the body. It incorporates stress-lowering herbs which stimulate calming factors helping you to feel relaxed without drowsiness, elevate mood and improve emotional well-being,” says Shabir.
“Magnolia extracts have been shown to reduce the inflammatory stress hormone cortisol as well as physically relaxing muscles and nerves. Rhodiola has been shown to enhance the uptake of the mood elevating neuro-nutrient serotonin whilst theanine, derived from green tea enhances alpha wave production by the brain which relaxes the mind and conversely helps concentration.”
“Siberian ginseng is an adaptogenic herb, a natural supplement that helps the body adapt to stress. As discussed above, the effects of long-term stress can be a common causative factor of anxiety and therefore reducing stress levels is often key in managing it,” says Zoe. “Siberian ginseng should not be confused with ginseng, American or Chinese/Korean ginseng as they’re used for very different purposes. Siberian ginseng is uplifting while also being calming; it creates equilibrium, especially for the nervous system making it ideal for anxiety.”
Try: Add to smoothies, porridge or your yoghurt Herbs Hands Healing EnergiRevive Powder, £20:
“L-Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea and matcha. It has been shown that it helps to increase low levels of serotonin and dopamine, both neurotransmitters that are essential for calming the brain and creating a sense of happiness,” explains Zoe. “Increasing levels of these neurotransmitters has also been linked to reducing anxiety. Try swapping coffee for a matcha latte or green tea to help increase L-Theanine levels.”
Try: Clearspring Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder – Ceremonial Grade, £16.99: “Try making a matcha latte using almond milk or simply adding Matcha to hot water to make a cup of tea.”
MORE GLOSS: Am I just down or am I depressed?
“A quality probiotic might be of great benefit to those suffering with anxiety,” says Shabir. “Scientists have discovered that our microbiome in the gut has a direct influence on mood and stress through the gut-brain axis. Having healthy levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut may help with the stress response which is the body’s ability to cope with stress.
“We tend to think of probiotics as being valuable for digestion and for concerns linked to digestion, however probiotics are involved in numerous processes carried out within the body including calming, elevating mood, preventing urinary tract infections and even helping with oral hygiene.
“Look for a multi-strain probiotic which contains at the very least L.acidiophilus strains and Bifodobacterium species. Generally speaking probiotics should be taken before meals so that the stomach acid does not attack these bacteria though these are some supplements such as mega Probiotic ND which are coated to protect against stomach acids and when taken with food, the beneficial bacteria thrive and colonise the gut rapidly.”
“Mega Probiotic ND provides eight strains of acid resistant bacteria, including the two species mentioned above, which can colonise the intestines where they can perform their myriad of roles including helping to support the immune system. Mega Probiotic ND is free from dairy, gluten, wheat, soya, sugar and numerous other known allergens.”
“Rescue Remedy is a combination flower essence helps to calm the nervous system and thus alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, fear and emotional disturbances. It can be given to infants, children, teens and adults. For infants, dilute with water,” advises Shabir.
“Rescue Remedy combines five Bach Original Flower Remedies and can be used to help you cope with immediate everyday situations. It is gentle, safe and suitable for the use by the entire family, however it does note that you should consult a doctor if under 12.
“Magnesium is required for the manufacture of adrenal stress hormones and for its relaxing effects on nerve and muscle function,” explains Shabir.
“Magnesium works with calcium for the optimal function of the nervous system. Without adequate magnesium, the nerve cells cannot give or receive nerve impulses resulting in sensitivity to all types of stimuli such as lights may appear too bright, noises too loud and emotional reactions exaggerated. A deficiency in magnesium can result in the symptoms of anxiety and irritability since magnesium is required for the manufacture of adrenal stress hormones.
“I swear by these Better You Flakes. They’re suitable for all ages and during pregnancy and breastfeeding. For childern and teends just put a handful into the bath. Children over 12 can an also have a magnesium liquid.”
“At times of stress, adrenals place huge demands on B and C vitamins leading to possible deficiencies – these nutrients are necessary for the manufacture of anti-stress enzymes and hormones and for the optimal function of the adrenals themselves. Consider the use of Terranova Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C which provides these nutrients in a food base to help absorption and utilisation by the body.
“Children can take an age appropriate multivitamin which should provide these vitamins.”
Disclaimer: Certain supplements are used for different reasons and a one-size-fits-all approach shouldn’t be adopted. In addition, pregnant women and anyone on medication should always consult a doctor before embarking on a supplements programme.
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