Anxiety: herbs and supplements to calm the mind

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC 11/25/15


It is normal to have anxiety in certain situations from time to time such as with public speaking or on a job interview.  It becomes a concern when it starts to interfere with your everyday activities and relationships with other people. 


Anxiety can also take a toll on your physical health keeping your stress hormone levels of cortisol high. 


There are numerous natural remedies you can try to ease your anxiety.  Always let your doctors know about your supplements and especially if you are on any medications and/or are pregnant.  Speak with your practitioner before adding in any new supplements as they may interact with your medications. 


Don’t try everything on this list at one time!  Try one supplement or herb to see how your body reacts to it.  Give it time such as a month and if you do not see any results then discontinue usage.


Herbs to ease anxiety:


Ginkgo Biloba extract: it has shown to be significantly more effective than a placebo for reducing anxiety. Dose: 240 mg. to 480 mg of Ginkgo extract for 4 weeks. 


California Poppy:  use this at low doses for anxiety as at high doses it is best for pain and insomnia.  Dose: .5-1 ml. of tincture 4 times per day.


Kava: many studies document the benefits of this herb for mild to moderate anxiety. It is not sedating.  Do not take if you have liver disease.  Dose: 3-5 ml of tincture 3 times per day


Passion flower: this has been shown to be as effective as an anxiolytic drug for general anxiety disorder.   It is synergistic with Kava.  Dose:  3-5 ml. in tincture 3 times per day.


Valerian: this will help to decrease restlessness and can improve sleep.  Dose: 400-900 mg. per day of whole valerian.  This is often combined with lemon balm for an increased affect. 


Rhodiola: this promotes calmness.  Rhodiola is considered an adaptogen which helps the body to adapt to stress of daily life.  It also optimizes the immune system and hormonal balance. Dose: 500 mg. in a.m. on empty stomach of 3% standardized extract. 




Magnesium: a deficiency is associated with anxiety.  The average U.S. diet only provides 40% of our magnesium needs.  Dose:  200-5—mg. per day of elemental magnesium (malate, Glycinate, taurate).  If diarrhea occurs, reduce dosage amount.  I also like magnesium l threonate as this has the ability to raise magnesium levels in the brain.  I also like Natural Calm magnesium in powder form-take this one before bedtime as it will help to relax the mind to help with sleep issues.  Start with lowest dose recommended on the bottle and you can work your way up to 1T. depending on bowel tolerance. 


B Vitamins: these offer stress support and can improve anxiety.  Take a B complex to get all the B vitamins that you need. Dose: take one capsule with breakfast and one with lunch


Probiotics: many animal studies demonstrate the benefit for anxiety.

A strain of probiotic called lactobacillus rhamnosus, when give to mice reduced stress and anxiety.

The lactobacillus casei strain at 24 billion organisms per day lowered anxiety in chronic fatigue sufferers.

Dose: In order to get the full benefits choose a multi strain probiotic and take one that has 20-50 billion organism.  Best results when taken with food.


Omega 3 Fats:  low DHA intake is associated with anxiety.  Dose: 1-2 g. per day of a fish or krill oil with high DHA.

Lactium: this supplement contains a peptide similar to protein that is naturally found in dairy products.  Studies have shown that it can reduce stress induced anxiety. Dose: Take 200 mg. in the morning and again in the evening and follow the directions on the label. 

GABA: there is some debate over the use of GABA. Some say that if GABA is effective for your anxiety then it means you have a leaky BBB (blood brain barrier). Until I have more research, I recommend Source Naturals GABA Calm.  Your local health food store should carry this brand. 



Other tips to help ease anxiety

  • Avoid or greatly reduce the amount of caffeine you consume (reduce slowly to avoid headaches) Try green tea instead. This has less caffeine but also has stress reducing L Theanine in it.
  • eliminate sugars, refined carbs
  • eat more protein and healthy fats
  • eat high fiber non-starchy vegetables
  • IBS and low blood sugar are associated with panic attacks
  • there is a connection between a healthy digestive tract and anxiety-fix digestive issues to support a calm mind
  • include fermented foods in your diet
  • Anxiety can be associated with a copper/zinc balance with copper being too high and zinc levels being too low. (ask your nutritionist to do a zinc tally test with you)
  • For herbal support you can start out by trying teas that include a variety of the herbs mentioned above. Look for teas that say calm mind, stress reduction etc.…Sleepy time teas also contain some of these herbs as they help to calm the mind to help you sleep.
  • For situational anxiety such as during test taking or public speaking, Rescue Remedy may be helpful. It comes in a spray, lozenge or gum. If you like what you have read here, please share it with others! If you want to know more than sign up for my newsletter and like my face book page 

This information is meant for educational purposes only. Karen Brennan is a certified nutrition consultant and as such does not treat, diagnose or cure but rather looks at your health issues from a whole body perspective with a focus on body balance and food first.





Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  Pengrove, CA: Bauman College. 

Bongiorno, P. (2015) Put the Anxiety behind you.  CA: Canari Press

Challem, J. (2007) The Food-Mood Solution.  NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Walsh, W. (2014) Nutrient Power.  NY, NY: Sky Horse Publishing


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