If the coronavirus pandemic has left you feeling stressed, anxious or worried, there are a number of supplements that can help. Medical nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer reveals all…
The last few months have been a turmoil of worry for many people, due to lockdown, isolation from family and friends, fear of the coronavirus pandemic, and grief. If you are feeling stressed or anxious as we adjust to our new ‘normal’ situation, a number of supplements can help.
CBD (cannabidiol) is extracted from non-drug strains of the cannabis plant known as industrial hemp. CBD is a popular supplement for wellbeing as it helps to damp down anxiety, muscle tension and restlessness, and promotes relaxation and sleep. CBD also generates positive feelings of general wellness and reduces pain perception without producing a ‘high’.
The results from 27 clinical trials show that CBD helps in the treatment of several mental health conditions, including anxiety. For more information read my new book CBD: The Essential Guide to Health and Wellness.
B vitamins are essential for the brain and nervous system and help to maintain normal mood. They are also needed for energy production in cells to help reduce tiredness and fatigue. Look for a supplement which combines B vitamins with other beneficial nutrients such as magnesium.
Magnesium is a mineral that helps to relax muscles and reduce anxiety. A great way to get a good night’s sleep is to add a handful of magnesium flakes to a warm bath water, lie back and relax for 20 to 30 minutes before going to bed.
Valerian is a calming herb that relieves anxiety, muscle tension and promotes tranquillity. It is particularly helpful when anxiety and whirling thoughts affect your ability to sleep.
Rhodiola rosea is a traditional herbal medicine used to combat anxiety and alleviate associated symptoms of fatigue and exhaustion. This makes it a great choice when you feel both anxious and drained of energy. Rhodiola reduces anxiety while enhancing alertness, concentration, memory, stamina and sleep quality. As a bonus, it can also improve a low libido which can occur during times of stress.
Lavender oil capsules are another traditional herbal medicine licensed to treat anxiety, stress and nervousness. Clinical trials show that lavender oil produces significant effects within two weeks and is as effective as some prescribed anti-anxiety medications (such as lorazepam and paroxetine) but without unwanted sedative effects.
Black cohosh can help if your anxiety is linked with menopause. Several comparison studies show that this herbal medicine is as effective in relieving hot flushes, depression and anxiety as standard oestrogen HRT.
St John’s wort
St John’s wort is best known for its ability to treat low mood and depression, which are often associated with anxiety. This traditional herb has beneficial effects on several brain chemicals to lift mood and improve anxiety with noticeable effects usually appearing within two weeks of starting treatment and continuing to improve for at least six weeks after.
Always seek advice
If you are taking medication seek advice from a pharmacist or GP before taking supplements as interactions can occur. If anxiety is troublesome, talk to your doctor as referral for psychotherapy can help.
About Dr Sarah Brewer
Dr Sarah Brewer is a medical nutritionist and an expert in food, herbs and supplements. She qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in natural sciences, medicine and surgery. After working in general practice, she gained a master’s degree in nutritional medicine. Sarah is a licensed medical doctor, a registered nutritionist and a registered nutritional therapist.
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