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Supplements for Anxiety: A Good Idea?

Vicky Davis

Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 11/12/2021

Anxiety is a common problem that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health issues in the United States, with more than 19 percent of American adults affected in the past year according to statistics.

There are numerous different anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (SAD) and specific phobias. 

Most of the time, anxiety disorders are treated using options such as anti-anxiety medications and therapy. 

These are generally effective, although they may not be the first treatment option you’d like to turn to if you only have mild or occasional anxiety. 

Although research is limited, some clinical studies have found that certain herbs, minerals and vitamin supplements may help to treat anxiety

We’ve shared these below, along with more information on how you can get your anxiety under control for good.

9 Supplements for Treating Anxiety

Whether your anxiety is mild or moderate, occasional or ongoing, it’s almost always possible to treat it with the right approach. 

Try one of the nine supplements listed below to calm your mind and make your anxiety symptoms less severe. 

L-Theanine

An amino acid found in green tea, black tea and certain types of mushrooms, L-theanine has a long list of mental and mood-related benefits.

Research shows a clear link between L-theanine and reduced levels of stress and anxiety. In a systematic review from 2016, researchers found that L-theanine supplements reduced anxiety and acute stress in people experiencing stressful situations.

More recent research has produced similar findings. In a 2020 review published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, experts suggested that consuming 200 to 400mg of L-theanine on a daily basis may assist in reducing stress and anxiety.

Other research shows that taking L-theanine may have cognitive benefits. In a trial published in the journal Nutrients, researchers found that people scored higher on tests of verbal fluency and executive function after taking an L-theanine supplement.

You can consume L-theanine in supplement form, or by brewing a cup of tea that’s naturally rich in this amino acid. A variety of teas contain L-theanine, including white, green, black and oolong tea.

If you go the tea route, make sure to keep tea’s caffeine content in mind, as it may contribute to issues such as nighttime anxiety

Chamomile

Another popular tea ingredient, chamomile has long been associated with calmness, making it a common natural medicine for sleep issues such as insomnia. 

Research also suggests that chamomile may help to reduce the severity of anxiety. In one study published in the journal Phytomedicine, researchers found that treatment with chamomile herbal capsules reduced the severity of symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder. 

Another study found that chamomile improved sleep quality in the elderly — a benefit that could be helpful if you’re prone to anxiety that affects your ability to fall asleep

Like other herbal supplements, chamomile is easy to find online and in stores. You can buy it as a supplement, usually in capsule form, and as a popular tea that you can brew whenever you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s involved in more than 300 enzyme systems within your body, including those responsible for protein synthesis and muscle and nerve function.

Research has found that magnesium offers numerous health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and potentially increasing testosterone levels.

Magnesium is also linked to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. In one study involving more than 8,800 American adults, researchers found a link between depression and a low level of magnesium intake in young adults.

Other research has linked magnesium supplementation to improvements in some mental health disorders, including anxiety.

In a review of 18 studies published in 2017, researchers found that magnesium supplementation had a positive effect on subjective anxiety outcomes. 

However, they noted that the quality of the data available on magnesium and anxiety was relatively poor.

A different study involving adults with depression found that magnesium supplements produced improvements in anxiety symptoms, as measured using a common anxiety assessment. 

Magnesium is widely available as a supplement, but it’s also easy to consume from food. Good dietary sources of magnesium include pumpkin or chia seeds, almonds, cashews and peanuts, leafy vegetables, beans and potatoes, as well as foods fortified with extra magnesium.

Curcumin

Curcumin is a yellow-colored chemical that’s found in turmeric. It’s associated with a wide range of health benefits, including reducing inflammation and improving cardiovascular health.

Research has found that curcumin may offer mental health benefits, including the ability to lower levels of anxiety.

In one study, researchers assigned obese people into two different groups. One group received a supplement containing one gram of curcumin to be taken daily, while the other group received a non-therapeutic placebo.

Following a wash-out period, the groups switched treatments, with the people who first received the curcumin supplement given the placebo and vice-versa.

After treatment with the curcumin supplements, the study participants showed reduced anxiety on the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), a multiple-choice report that’s used to assess the severity of anxiety.

Another study involving people with diabetic polyneuropathy found that use of a nano-curcumin supplement produced improvements in depression and anxiety.

Curcumin is easy to find as a dietary supplement, usually in capsule form. For best results, look for curcumin supplements that also contain piperine — a component of black pepper that boosts the bioavailability of curcumin by as much as 2,000 percent.

Kava

Kava, or Piper methysticum, is a crop that can be found in tropical regions of the Pacific. It has a long history as a herbal medicine, making it one of the most popular herbal remedies for treating anxiety and relieving stress.

Although research on kava is limited, studies have found that it does appear to reduce anxiety symptoms. 

In a 2013 study, researchers treated people with generalized anxiety disorder using either kava or a non-therapeutic placebo. 

They found that kava produced a significant reduction in anxiety severity, with few side effects apart from headaches.

An older review and meta-analysis also noted that kava produces an anxiolytic effect, meaning it’s capable of reducing anxiety levels.

Kava is widely available online and in health food stores. It’s sold in capsule and tablet form, as a tincture and as an ingredient in relaxation-promoting tea. 

It’s important to be aware that kava has been linked to liver injuries. To keep yourself safe, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before using kava or any other supplement as a natural treatment for anxiety. 

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Multivitamin Supplements

Maintaining a consistent intake of vitamins is essential for both your physical health and mental wellbeing. 

Over the years, research has found that many vitamins play important roles in managing stress and anxiety. 

Other studies have found that vitamin supplements are linked to better moods and fewer anxiety symptoms.

For example, a study published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition in 2019 found that young adults who used a multivitamin supplement containing B-vitamins, vitamin C and an assortment of important minerals had fewer anxiety symptoms than their peers.

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients also found a clear link between B-vitamin intake and reduced stress. 

However, the researchers couldn’t find any clear association between vitamin intake and anxiety or depression.

Other research has found a link between significant vitamins and reduced anxiety. For example, a 2015 study found that adolescents experienced a reduction in anxiety symptoms after taking a vitamin C supplement for two weeks.

Beyond their possible effects on mood and mental function, many multivitamins also offer other benefits for your health and performance. You can find multivitamins online or in your local drug store. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood, nuts, seeds and plant oils. They’re known to reduce triglycerides (a type of lipid, or fat, found in your blood) and make the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis less severe.

Some research has found a link between omega-3 consumption from food and a lower risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline.

Other research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids could play a role in reducing the severity of anxiety disorders. 

In a 2018 systematic review, researchers looked at 19 different clinical trials involving upwards of 2,200 people. They found an association between intake of omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of anxiety.

A review published in Frontiers in Physiology found that omega-3 fatty acids seem to modulate mood-related behaviors, and suggested that supplementing with omega-3s may be effective for some people who are affected by anxiety and depression.

Some prescription medications, such as blood thinners, may not be safe to use with omega-3 supplements. 

To avoid interactions or other safety issues, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider before using fish oil or other omega-3 supplements. 

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a naturally-occurring compound that’s found in cannabis. Unlike THC, it doesn’t make you feel high. 

Instead, it’s linked with relaxation, improvements in sleep and other benefits, including reductions in the severity of anxiety.

In a 2011 study, researchers gave CBD or a placebo to people with social anxiety disorder, then instructed them to take part in a simulation public speaking test.

They found that the people who received CBD showed significantly reduced anxiety symptoms, as well as improvements in cognitive function and comfort.

Other research into CBD and anxiety also shows promising results. For example, a study from 2019 found that people with anxiety and sleep difficulties showed reduced anxiety scores and better sleep after using a CBD supplement.

You can learn more about the anxiety-related effects of CBD in our complete guide to CBD and anxiety

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a herb in the mint family. It gets its name from its scent, as its leaves are known to smell like fresh lemon. 

Research has found that lemon balm can improve the symptoms of mild to moderate anxiety, as well as insomnia. 

A study of people with coronary artery disease also found that lemon balm is effective at improving sleep and reducing the severity of anxiety symptoms.

Like other nutritional supplements, lemon balm is available in a variety of forms. It’s often sold in capsules as an anti-stress dietary supplement. 

You can also find it as a tincture and as the main ingredient in lemon balm tea. 

Other Options for Treating Anxiety

While supplements can help to reduce the severity of anxiety, they’re rarely a first-line treatment option for anxiety disorders. 

Most of the time, anxiety is treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two.

Medication

Several types of prescription medication are used as treatments for anxiety symptoms, including benzodiazepines, antidepressants and beta-blockers.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to reduce the severity of ongoing anxiety or to help you deal with panic attacks, social anxiety or performance anxiety that develops before speeches and other high-pressure occasions. 

Our guide to anxiety medication provides more information about how these medications work, key differences between anxiety medications, potential adverse effects and more. 

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is used to treat many mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders. 

Several forms of therapy are used to treat anxiety, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. Your mental health provider will select the most effective form of therapy based on your symptoms and personal needs. 

You can learn more about the therapeutic process and what to expect from therapy in our guide to therapy for anxiety

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it’s never been easier to talk to a psychiatry provider about treatments

What to Do if You’re Experiencing Anxiety

Dealing with anxiety can be a frustrating, difficult experience, especially when your anxiety gets in the way of your job, relationships and quality of life. 

If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, the best thing to do is to reach out to a licensed mental health provider. 

They’ll talk to you about your symptoms and may ask you to complete a test, such as the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) or Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI).

If you’re diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, your mental health provider will likely prescribe an anti-anxiety medication and inform you about therapy and other treatment options. 

To seek professional help for anxiety, you can talk to your primary care provider about a mental health referral or search in your city for a psychiatrist or psychologist.

You can also connect with a licensed provider online using our online psychiatry and individual online counseling services. 

Make sure to let your healthcare provider know in advance if you plan to use any supplements, natural products or other types of alternative medicine to treat anxiety. Are Anxiety Supplements Worth It?

While supplements probably won’t get rid of severe anxiety, they may provide a calming effect and help you to better manage your thoughts, feelings and actions.

If you have mild anxiety and want to try natural remedies before seeking treatment, feel free to give the options above a try. For even better results, try combining them with helpful habits for managing anxiety, such as meditation and exercise. 

You may find that natural supplements alone are enough to treat your anxiety. However, if they aren’t, don’t feel afraid to reach out for professional help.

Want to learn more about dealing with anxiety? Our guide to anxiety treatments goes into more detail about the most effective ways to manage anxiety, while our free mental health resources provide actionable tactics that you can use to make real, measurable progress.

28 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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