Whether it’s financial uncertainty, familial strife or political turmoil, one thing is for sure: Americans have never been so stressed out. A whopping 59% of Americans (across all age groups) consider the current socio-political climate worse than World War II and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
One out of 5 Americans are worried about their jobs. About 58% of people with young children experience stress on a regular basis. Healthcare (43%) and economic instability (35%) are major concerns for stressed-out Americans, while crime, misgivings about the government and terrorism following close behind.
There’s no denying that the country’s nerves are on end. Personal issues compounded by social and political ups-and-downs have only added to the problem—prompting many Americans to turn to prescription drugs to ease their woes. As these medications wreak their own havoc, stress-relief supplements have risen in popularity for their effectiveness and lack of serious side effects.
Why prescription drugs aren’t the answer
In such tumultuous times, it’s normal for people to seek medical help. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds can help people calm down, but what happens when a person becomes addicted to them?
A little over five years ago, a study showed that 25% of people prescribed such medication were not properly diagnosed in the first place. These drugs have also been shown to reduce a person’s coping capacity, leading to the misconception that a single pill can cure the cause of their anxiety. Meanwhile, getting off these pharmaceuticals can be an uphill challenge, and over-dependence can have drastic results. Valium and Xanax may be effective, but they’re also known for leading to addiction.
The best supplements for anxiety
It’s true that identifying stress triggers and practicing relaxation techniques takes time and energy. But prescription drugs can also wreak havoc. That’s where anti-stress supplements come into the picture. Supplements like adaptogenic herbs, melatonin and magnesium have been shown to help the body reduce stress—without the deadly side-effects of Valium, Xanax and other anxiety medications.
Adaptogenic herbs fall under the umbrella of phytotherapy, which is the practice of utilizing plants for healing. Adaptogens are a class of plants that help stabilize, rehabilitate and safeguard your body. They tend to balance your physiological functions by allowing you to deal with excessive stress. Some key adaptogens include:
Panax Ginseng has been known to improve overall calmness and memory performance. It’s also known as the Asian ginseng. Keep in mind that extensive scientific research hasn’t been carried out on this herb. However, there are a number of people who say it has helped them deal with stress on a regular basis.
The Lemon Balm herb comes from the mint family and is known to promote calmness. It is said it to be quite safe, and 1,600 mg of this herb in dried form provides tranquility that could last for up to 6 hours.
The cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine is Holy Basil, an adaptogen used to cure physical ailments such as the common cold, skin infections and malarial fever. The use of basil may help reduce blood pressure, gradually and positivelyaffectingg the neurotransmitters of the brain.
Licorice Root keeps excessive cortisol damage at bay. Stress can cause ulcers, and this adaptogen is known to prevent these sores. The root helps the body modulate hormone levels.
A 2009 Swedish human trial found Rhodiola helps reduce fatigue brought on by stress. Rhodiola also helps improve concentration and mental well-being.
This hormone induces better sleep patterns, thus alleviating stress. Taken in small amounts, melatonin has known to improve behavior and reduce anxiety in elderly populations. You should keep in mind that there are minor side effects like dizziness, nausea and short bouts of depression. Don’t take more than 6 mg a day. If you’re still having trouble sleeping at that point, melatonin might not be the right fit.
The combination of St. John’s wort and valerian root has shown that it might be more effective than the pharmaceutical diazepam usually prescribed for anxiety. If an herb can turn out better than a prescription medication, there’s good reason to give it a shot.
Boosting the magnesium levels in your body can help combat stress because of its alleviative properties. Magnesium relaxes your muscles and supports cardiovascular function, too. While a healthy diet will get you all the magnesium you need, a doctor might prescribe a small dosage if he feels your stress levels are harmful to your body’s muscular and nervous system.
We all know green tea comes with a number of physical benefits. The amino acid theanine that’s present in green tea can bring your blood pressure down to normal. It’s even know to reduce anxiety in people suffering from schizophrenia.
This supplement is a mix of an herb from the Amur cork tree and magnolia bark. It is known to reduce levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—and allow users to sleep better.
Whether it’s personal or work-related issues that are bringing you down, using a supplement is typically a safer—and therefore, better—choice than going straight for prescription medication. Just make sure you speak to your doctor before giving any supplement a shot.