My Favorite Supplements for Stress Relief

By Shannon Morehouse, MA, CHHCShannonHeadshot

Magnesium
This is my top-choice. Magnesium is a natural relaxant. It relaxes your muscles and your mind.  Because it is a sedative, I recommend taking before bed. It helps combat insomnia; it also helps with headaches. Take an Epsom salt bath; you will get the benefits of YOU time and the magnesium from the salts will not only relax your sore/tired muscles, but also, will seep into your skin and enter your bloodstream quickly. Recommended Dosage: 300-400 mg.

Omega-3 Fish Oil
Our brain is highly reliant on healthy fats to function optimally. Several studies point to fish oil for cognition and relief of depression and anxiety. Omega-3s have been shown to help produce dopamine and serotonin. I recommend Nordic Naturals, Wiley’s Finest, or the Minami brand. A good dosage is around 1,000 mg a day.

Holy Basil
Holy Basil (aka Tulsi) is something I take daily in the form of Organic India’s Tulsi tea…over 20 flavors to choose from! It is an adaptogenic herb that helps reduce cortisol and regulates blood-sugar. If you take it in supplement form, research confirms that 500 mg twice a day is extremely effective at reducing anxiety.

B-Complex
The B vitamins are essential when it comes to reducing stress. These vitamins regulate the nervous system. Because all the B vitamins are effective for boosting energy and reducing stress. I recommend taking it in complex form. Here is a summary of the major B vitamins:

B1 (Thamine):
          B1 can increase energy and improve fuzzy thinking (University of Wales Study)
          Recommended Dosage 50 mg + a day
          Note: Excess carbohydrates deplete B1 levels

B-5 (Pantothenic Acid):
          Mood-enhancing and calming effect by helping in the production of serotonin and reducing secretion of cortiso
          Helpful for fatigued adrenal glands
          Helpful for people with migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, or trying to curb drinking or smoking
          Helps to convert fat, protein, carbs into energy
          Recommended dosage: 50-250 mg once or twice daily

B-6:
          Reduces irritability, tension, and anxiety
          B6 works with folate, B12, and tryptophan to make serotonin
          Can reduce PMS symptoms
          Dosage: 50-120 mg, especially helpful when taken in B complex form 

Rhodiola
An adaptogenic herb, Rhodiola uniquely prompts a relaxing energetic state. It helps with many coinciding symptoms of depression, such as difficulty concentrating and mental fog. A good dosage to take is 100-400 mg a day.  Because of its energy-prompting properties, it’s best to take Rhodiola in the morning. 

GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid)
GABA is a neurotransmitter in our Central Nervous System. GABA is unique in that it functions in the adult human brain as the primary inhibitor and calmng agent for excitatory neurotransmitters which are firing too rapidly. Some things we do can produce GABA (such as yoga), but many find it to extremely beneficial to supplement GABA-producing lifestyle choices with GABA in supplement form. In fact, this is my top-choice for an “as needed” supplement for many situations: periods of having difficulty sleeping, periods of lacking the ability to concentrate, and also just before your menstrual cycle. It has been referred to as “nature’s valium” because of the calming effect it can exert. Many correlations have been established between low GABA levels and people who have trouble sleeping, those with depression, inability to focus or maintain attention, people with anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol addicts, and those suffering with panic attacks. Many research studies also demonstrate its ability to ease premenstrual moodiness and depression. Studies also show that it balances blood-sugar. Because of GABA’s beneficial calming ability, increasing GABA production results in an improvement in symptoms among those with deficiencies. I recommend taking it in sublingual form as it helps you to absorb it quickly. You can take this in varying dosages; I find that 250 mg in sublingual form works similarly to 750 mg in tablet form.

Ashwagandha
An adapotogen like Holy Basil and Rhodiola, Ashwaganda helps combat both physiological and psychological stress. An effective dosage is 300-600 mg a day. 

Ignatia
Ignatia is a homeopathic to take when struggling with grief. It is also helpful for nervousness and general moodiness. Dosage: three 30 c pellets every 6 hours. In times of extreme distress, three 200 c pellets every 8 hours. 

L-Theanine
Shown to increase levels of GABA and dopamine in the brain, L-Theanine is helpful for those struggling with anxiety. A safe dosage is 200-400 mg a day or you can start by drinking decaffeinated green tea to see if that helps.

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