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Natural remedies for anxiety

| MAR 3, 2023

If anxiety feels like part of your day-to-day, you’re not alone. In the UK over 8 million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time. You may experience anxiety as a low-level feeling that can blight your day or an overwhelming feeling that can be debilitating. Perhaps you experience it as butterflies before a social event, or something altogether more frequent and acute that stops you living your life as you wish.

As a registered nutritional therapist, I often support clients with anxiety. In my clinical experience, it can be caused by a variety of issues, from poor sleep, gut health or hormonal imbalance. 

There are lots of dietary approaches that can make a positive difference. The key one is ensuring you have steady blood sugar levels through the day. The simplest way to achieve this is make sure you eat breakfast. Don’t skip meals, minimise sugar, alcohol and caffeine, and make sure you eat protein with each meal or snack. 

And what about natural remedies? Here are my top five choices for supporting anxiety:

1. Magnesium

This is nature’s chill-out mineral and one I use a lot in my clinic. There are various forms of magnesium. My go-to for anxiety is magnesium taurate. This form contains an amino acid called taurine which has been shown to have a calming effect on the brain. Another gentle way of potentially getting the benefits of magnesium is to enjoy a warm bath with Epsom Salts – also known as magnesium sulfate. I recommend a handful in a warm bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil.

2. Lemon Balm

 Known as a nervine relaxant, lemon balm has been shown in studies to alleviate anxiety. A herb found to be potentially beneficial for the nervous system, you can find it as a tea or as a supplement. Try a cup an hour before bed each night.

3. Vitamin D

Studies have shown that vitamin D can help to alleviate anxiety, particularly in people with low vitamin D levels. Known as the sunshine vitamin, in the UK we can only absorb vitamin D from the sun between the months of late March and late September. Government advice is that everyone should consider taking a vitamin D supplement in the UK in autumn and winter. If you notice your anxiety is worse during the colder months, a vitamin D test may be worth considering. 

4. Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Called essential because we need them, but our bodies can’t make them, omega-3 needs to be eaten. It can be found in nuts, seeds (walnuts and flaxseed are my favourites) and oily fish. Omega-3 is important for a healthy nervous system, and I always include food sources in a client’s diet or recommend a supplement like Life & Soul, or Vim & Vigour, a vegan algae-based alternative. 
5. L-theanine
An amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier, l-theanine can be helpful for supporting a sense of calm and reducing anxiety. Particularly useful for those struggling to sleep well, I recommend it is taken in the evenings as a supplement. L-theanine is derived from green tea, but a supplement allows you to enjoy the calming benefits without the caffeine from the tea, which can make anxiety worse for some. 

If you are on prescribed medication, always check with your doctor before taking any supplements. And if anxiety is an ongoing symptom, working with a BANT registered nutritional therapist may help to explore potential root causes and offer a personalised approach.
Written by the Knackered Mums Nutritionist Thalia Pellegrini.

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