Healthy Tips

Keep Calm and Carry On

Tips for Natural Anxiety Relief

Many Canadians continue to experience anxiety on a day-to-day basis. In fact, it is estimated that almost one in four Canadians experience anxiety at any given time.  Anxiety can be described as uncomfortable feelings of “worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

If you regularly feel worried about life circumstances and if you think these feeling of anxiety keeping you from reaching your full potential, you should speak with your health care practitioner about treatment options. Treatment can include a variety of different options, including therapy, medication or natural approaches. Keep reading to learn more about four natural approaches that might help.


Valerian root

Dried Valerian roots (detailed close-up shot) on wooden background

What it is:  Valerian Root is a common anxiety-relief supplement that is sometimes referred to by it’s Latin name, Valeriana officinalis. Valerian is a plant traditionally used to help soothe anxiety and aid sleep. Dating back to the Greek and Roman times, Valerian Root has been brewed to make a sedative or relaxing tea. Today, extracts are often found in the form of a supplement with standardized concentrations of the active ingredient, Valerenic acid.

How it helps reduce anxiety: Valerian root extract was traditionally used in herbal medicine to help relieve nervousness. The mode action is thought to be linked to its ability to boost the signaling of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which is one of its main sedative neurotransmitter pathways.

How to take: Most common supplements include a standard dose of approximately 450 mg. Health Canada recommends not exceeding 3.6 grams per doseGoing over this amount may result in a “hangover” feeling. Read the label of your supplement for best results and speak with your health care practitioner if you have questions about the effects of Valerian.


Magnesium

What it is: Magnesium is a dietary mineral that is essential for countless body functions.  In fact, it’s the second most common electrolyte in the body. So it’s no surprise that magnesium deficiency can be linked to a variety of negative health effects. These negative effects include raised blood pressure, reduced glucose tolerance and neural excitation. Magnesium is associated with subjective anxiety, which supports the theory that supplementation may reduce anxiety symptoms.

How it helps reduce anxiety: Evidence suggests that magnesium can help to reduce feelings of anxiety, which is good for people who are vulnerable to anxiety. Serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical, depends on magnesium for its production and function. This pathway may help explain why magnesium has anxiety-protective effects.

How to take: Some common dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, wheat bran, brewer’s yeast and meats. However, because magnesium in our diet is thought to be insufficient, it’s also widely available as a supplement, either in powdered or capsule. Often, 100 to 300 mg per day is used in research on the anti-anxiety effects of magnesium. Check the supplement label for instructions on best use.


L-theanine

Tea with herbs

What it is: L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that helps to promotes relaxation and better sleep. How? By reducing symptoms of anxiety that may be keeping you up at night. Interestingly, theanine is actually the compound that many green tea drinkers identify as the distinctive “umami,” or brothy, flavour. Younger tea leaves contain the highest amount of L-theanine.

How it helps reduce anxiety: L-theanine has the unique ability to promote relaxation without causing sleepiness and this may promote cognition and attention. The structure of L-theanine is closely related to another amino acid, glutamate, which is crucial for the production of GABA, a powerful relaxant neurotransmitters in the brain.

How to take: The effective dose of green tea is often in the range of 200 to 250 mg per day. However, to obtain this much from green tea, you would need to drink up to 20 cups of green tea! That’s why many people opt for a supplement, which can deliver a reliable dose of L-theanine.


Lemon Balm:

What it is: Lemon balm is sometimes known by its Latin name Melissa officinalis. It is a common herb native to Europe and across Central Asia. It is a versatile plant, often cultivated for its health benefits and to attract bees for honey production. People also grow the plant for ornamental purposes. Lemon balm is a naturally restorative herb, traditionally used to improve cognition by reducing stress and anxiety.

How it helps reduce anxiety: We don’t know the exact mechanism of how lemon balm helps to relieve symptoms of anxiety. Traditionally, it’s used in herbal medicine in order to help promote restful sleep as a sleep aid. This may help with some symptoms of anxiety, especially in cases of insomnia due to mental stress.

How to take: You can get lemon balm in a variety of forms, including as a tea or as a supplement (as a powdered herb). A wide range of doses are available, but most benefits are observed at a dose of approximately 300 mg. In fact, evidence suggests that the benefits can improve with the dose, up to 1200 mg.


If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety symptoms, consider adding a natural remedy to your healthy regimen. Remember to consult your health care practitioner in order to find what’s best for you. Visit your neighborhood Vita Health location to find these natural anxiety-busting supplements.

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