Introduction: Natural Supplements for Anxiety
If you’ve been struggling with high levels of stress and anxiety, you may have wondered if natural treatments can be helpful. There are a wide variety of herbs and supplements that can be used to help those dealing with the negative symptoms associated with stress. In fact, natural products for stress and anxiety are an extremely popular choice with today’s consumers and for good reason. Herbs and supplements can be an extremely effective option for calming tension, relaxing the central nervous system and helping to ease the body’s stress response. Natural supplements are also safe, easy to use and lack many of the harmful side effects of common prescription medications.
You may already be familiar with some of the more well known natural supplements for anxiety including herbs like chamomile and St John’s Wort or the calming mineral magnesium. There are a wide variety of herbs and nutraceuticals that can be beneficial for natural stress relief, but you may not be familiar with the anxiolytic nutrient and neurotransmitter called GABA, that plays a critical role in calming anxiety and reducing feelings of stress.
GABA, gamma-aminobutryic acid, is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter that is produced within our bodies. Neurotransmitters are part of a complex system of chemical messengers that transport information. They play an important role in many bodily functions including sleep, appetite, heart rate, fear response and mood. Some common neurotransmitters include acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine and glutamate.
Neurotransmitters can be excitatory in nature, inhibitive or modulatory. An excitatory neurotransmitter can cause an electrical signal to be transmitted down the cell. An inhibitory neurotransmitter can actually block the signal and prevent the message from transmission. It is the inhibitory nature of GABA that can help to balance the impacts of anxiety and help to quiet the mind.
Anxiety and the Stress Response
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to a perceived stress. Anxiety can be experienced as a state of fear or apprehension. It can evolve based upon a negative past experience or fear of a future or upcoming experience. We may feel anxiety about going on an airplane, giving a speech at work, or when we begin to feel overwhelmed with responsibilities. Although it is completely normal to experience anxiety from time to time, it is when it goes on for an extended period of time that problems can occur.
Ongoing chronic feelings of anxiety can keep the body in a state of fight or flight, with the body continuously pumping out stress hormones in preparation for an “event” to happen. Over time, it can become difficult to shut off this hormonal safety response. Individuals may find themselves feeling tense and anxious even if they are not in a particularly stressful situation. Anxious feelings can impair the ability to think clearly and concentrate, make it difficult for the body to become fully relaxed and can interfere with sleep. In severe states, anxiety can interfere with a person’s ability to go to work or go out in public and can wreak havoc on daily life.
Chronic anxiety can be like driving a car without any brakes. Racing thoughts, worry and fear can leave one feeling out of control and even hopeless. GABA acts like the “brakes” when it comes to anxiety. Just like anxiety can be an end result of too much excitement within the body, GABA naturally counterbalances the excitatory nature of anxiety, with its inhibitory and calming effects.
By inhibiting neural activity, GABA helps to decrease anxiety, facilitates better sleep, reduces mental and physical stress and creates a calmness of mood. What makes GABA such a useful nutrient for anxiety, is that it gently calms the mind, without being sedative like many medications. It can help to decrease mind chatter associated with anxiety, without impacting the body’s ability to perform, making it ideal for use during the day or night.
GABA is made within the body as a neurotransmitter and can also be taken in supplement form. It is found naturally in a small handful of fermented foods such as natto and kimchi, with GABA levels being relatively small. For those with significant anxiety, taking GABA in supplemental form may be the best option.
It is speculated that certain disease states are associated with lower levels of GABA. These disease states include seizure disorder, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, panic disorder, attention deficit disorder, depression and anxiety. Low levels of GABA within the body can result in difficulty concentrating, poor memory recall, sleep issues, racing thoughts, muscle pain and headaches.
Current Research on GABA
Current research on GABA shows that it may be effective for improving stress response, easing anxiety, increasing immunity and can be useful for enhancing sleep quality and minimizing the time it takes to get to sleep.
One study examined the effects of GABA as a relaxant and anxiolytic on immunity in stressed volunteers. Participants of the study were asked to perform the stressful task of crossing a suspended bridge while researchers measured levels of immunity via Immunoglobulin A (IgA). One group of volunteers received the supplement GABA, while the other group received a placebo. The results indicated that those volunteers who received GABA had higher salivary concentrations of IgA, indicating that GABA could actually enhance immunity under stressful conditions. GABA was shown to have relaxant effects in the volunteers and its impact could be seen within 1 hour of its administration.
Another study from 2011 investigated how GABA influences human adults psychologically and physiologically under a condition of mental stress. Participants were given 100 mg of GABA or a placebo of dextrin. The results showed that EEG activities including alpha band and beta band brain waves decreased depending on the mental stress task load in the GABA group, signifying alleviated stress levels.
GABA has also been shown to improve patterns of sleep and insomnia. A 2018 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigated the role of GABA in those with sleep difficulties. Participants were selected based upon severity of symptoms in dealing with insomnia and various sleep related issues. Study participants were divided into two groups, with one group receiving GABA in supplement form and the other receiving placebo. The GABA group showed an improvement in overall ability to sleep, while also showing improvements in the amount of time it takes to get to sleep. These findings suggest that GABA may also be a useful natural option for those dealing with insomnia and other sleep related problems.
Adequate levels of GABA within the body can be supportive for maintaining mood, improving concentration and calming the mind. For those dealing with issues of chronic stress and anxiety, taking GABA in supplemental form may help to alleviate or reduce symptoms of fear, tension, irritability and racing thoughts. Supplemental GABA may also be a useful tool for those struggling with insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.
GABA can be used as needed for those dealing with occasional episodes of anxiety and is safe enough to be used with regularity for those dealing with ongoing stress or more intense manifestations of anxiety such as panic attacks and obsessive compulsive behaviours. GABA’s ability to calm the mind and relax the body makes it an ideal option for anyone looking for a natural alternative for stress and anxiety.
What is Nuphorin?
While there are plenty of anxiety supplements on the market, there’s only one that combines the best ingredients of nature and supplies them in a vegan and vegetarian-friendly capsule.
Nuphorin is a 100% natural anti-anxiety supplement that provides immediate relief during the onset of anxiety symptoms. By harnessing powerful natural ingredients such as ashwagandha, valerian root, magnesium, GABA, and chamomile (to name a few), those experiencing symptoms can secure immediate relief from anxiety symptoms from just one capsule.
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Yoto, A., Murao, S., Motoki, M. et al. Oral intake of γ-aminobutyric acid affects mood and activities of central nervous system during stressed condition induced by mental tasks. Amino Acids 43, 1331–1337 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-011-1206-6
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