Natural Remedies for Anxiety Sufferers: Amino Acids Reduce Symptoms

There are many alternative choices for anxiety relief.  In future articles we will discuss various herbal and homeopathic modalities.  Here, we will be focusing on what some studies have discovered about amino acid therapy for anxiety.  You can keep reading, or scroll to the the bottom for the TAKE ACTION points.

Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million American adults aged 18 and over, and one in every eight American children are diagnosed with anxiety.  It is likely that these numbers are actually higher if we consider that anxiety coexists with so many other mental health conditions such as behavior problems like ADHD or mood imbalance such as depression.  Of course, we should also consider the many people who suffer from anxiety and never seek help. Are you one of them? Or, perhaps you did seek help and have tried many prescription drugs to no avail. This article is for you.  

There are many alternative choices for anxiety relief.  In future articles we will discuss various herbal and homeopathic modalities.  Here, we will be focusing what some studies discovered about amino acid therapy for anxiety.

L-Theanine

There are many studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of L-Theanine for reduction or relief of anxiety symptoms.  One study of the electrical activity of the brain (via EEG) after giving participants only 50 mg of L-theanine and found:

“L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness.”


 Nobre, Rao, and Owen, 2008

Another study in which participants were given 250 mg L-theanine per day concluded “L-theanine administration is safe and has multiple beneficial effects on depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbance and cognitive impairments in patients with major depressive disorder” – Hidese et al., Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 2017

My husband takes L-theanine with magnesium glycinate.  He no longer has trouble with night time anxiety. The addition of L-theanine has enabled him to fall asleep at night and prevents his mind from racing if he wakes up in the middle of the night, enabling him to fall back asleep with ease.  It also helps him cope calmly with daily stressors.

We use this L-theanine by Sports Research and the magnesium glycinate from Pure Encapsulations:

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

GABA is a primary inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitter in the brain.  Although the evidence is conflicted regarding whether or not GABA supplements cross the blood brain barrier, Alkemade et al (2015) postulate ingested GABA may be acting on the brain indirectly via the enteric nervous system (our gut).  Alkemade et al (2015) also discuss the possibility that the reason we are not able to establish GABA crossing the blood brain barrier is due to how quickly it is sent back out once it goes in. This idea is based on studies of mice. Mice do have a GABA transporter in their blood brain barrier, and in mice GABA has been shown to “go out” 17 times faster than it “goes in” (Alkemade et al., 2015).  Both ideas seem very logical, especially considering all we now know about the gut-brain connection.

“Dietary GABA supplement in clinical studies relieves anxiety and increases alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation” – Alramadhan et al., Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research, 2012

“GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within 1 hour of its administration to induce relaxation and diminish anxiety.”


Abdou, A. et al., BioFactors, 2006

In a study which focused on GABA for insomnia, Byun et al (2018) demonstrated that GABA at 300 mg daily produced an anxiolytic (relaxing) effect which resulted in improvement of sleep quality and anxiety/insomnia symptoms as reported by participants.

Dr. Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure, recommends the following dosage:

GABA 100 mg to 500 mg 1 to 3 times per day at or before high stress times.  She also recommends avoiding high dose GABA (750 mg) as this may actually worsen anxiety (Ross, 2011).

We love this sublingual lozenge by Source Naturals for quick anxiety relief.

And we have also used this one:

Also, there are some really great choices that combine these relaxing aminos, like this one by Jarrow that combines theanine, GABA, and ashwaganda (a powerful adaptogen herb that also reduces anxiety and helps regulate hormones systemically).:

Anxiety can be truly debilitating.  I have cared for many people who needed to take prescribed anxiety medication three to four times per day just to function somewhat normally.  Such medications are not without unwanted side effects including drowsiness and poor sleep quality. These studies we have discussed demonstrate a good safety profile for both L-Theanine and GABA.  Perhaps many people with anxiety simply have deficiency of these amino acids.

TAKE ACTION points

L-Theanine: In the studies discussed, dosages for participants were:L-Theanine: 50 mg to 250 mg per day

GABA: 100 mg to 500 mg 1 to 3 times per day at or before high stress times or to help with sleep (Ross, 2011).  

Make sure that you are getting enough vitamin B6 because vitamin B6 is essential for proper neurotransmitter function in the brain. We like this one because it is the fully active form of B6 called P5P.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Abdou, A., Hatta, H., Horie, K., Higashiguchi, S., Yokogoshi, H. (2006). Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16971751

Alkemade, A., Boonstra, E., Colzato, L., Forstmann, B., Kleijn, R., Nieuwenhuis, S. (2015). Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594160/

Alramadhan, E., Avila, S., Goldstein, T., Hanna, M., Hanna, M., Weeks, B. (2012). Dietary and botanical anxiolytics. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3560823/

Byun, J., Chung, S., Shin, W., Shin, Y. (2018). Safety and efficacy of gamma-aminobutyric acid from fermented rice germ in patients with insomnia symptoms: A randomized, double-blind trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6031986/

Hidese, S., Kunugi, H., Noda, T., Okubo, T., Ota, M., Ozawa, H., & Wakabayashi, C. (2017). Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27396868

Nobra, A., Owen, G., & Rao, A. (2008). L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328

Ross, J. (2011). Eliminating the top causes of insomnia. Retrieved from https://www.juliarosscures.com/eliminating-the-top-causes-of-insomnia/

CBD Oil for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders afflict 40 million people in the United States with 8% of them being children and teens (Anxiety and Depression Association of America [ADAA], 2018). If you are one of them, you are clearly not alone; and there are a variety of natural ways to manage it. It is worth noting that anxiety is a normal experience for most people, but having an anxiety disorder means that your stress response is abnormally high or that you are experiencing anxiousness about unsubstantiated worries. If you are not sure about what you are experiencing, here is a cool infographic from ADAA to clarify:

If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or think you may have one, or have a loved one who suffers with anxiety, this post is for you. Here we will be reviewing one of the most effective natural therapies available–cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Rather than defining CBD oil, we will be focusing on how it helps anxiety disorders. You may want to also read What is CBD Oil?.

“We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder” – American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics (ASENT), 2015.

The most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety disorders are anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines), antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and beta-blockers (off label use as beta blockers are normally for high blood pressure and heart problems). These have many undesirable side effects, some of which can be life-threatening adverse events. Benzodiazepines (benzos) can lead to dependence and addiction, while both antidepressants and benzos often lead to tolerance and the need to increase the dosage to achieve the desired effect. Benzos and SSRIs are known to have a negative impact on the normal sleep cycle resulting in poor quality sleep that is not restorative. Even worse is long term use of benzos can lead to cognitive dysfunction even after they are discontinued. That all sounds pretty terrifying, but for some people anxiety is so debilitating that they are willing to take the hit because they just need to function. Fortunately, CBD oil provides a viable alternative.

How does CBD oil measure up in comparison to commonly prescribed drugs?

“CBD oil is safe and well-tolerated via the oral route (up to 1,500 mg/day). Moreover, because this compound does not induce dependence, tolerance and abstinence symptoms, it can be, in the future, a good alternative as a substitute for high potency benzodiazepines and antidepressant drugs” – Campos & Soares, Current Neuropharmacology, 2017

But how does CBD work? The mechanisms are not fully known and the ones we know about are not fully understood, but here is what we know it does do (and this is not an all inclusive list):

  • It is neuroprotective, which means it reduces damage to your brain and nervous system (Blessing et al., 2015).
  • It stimulates neurogenesis, which means it encourages new nerve growth and development (Campos & Soares, 2017)
  • It is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger–even more powerful than vitamins C and E (Grotenherman & Iffland, 2017).
  • It activates 5HT1A (serotonin) receptors which is believed to be a major part of why it alleviates anxiety (Blessing et al., 2015).
  • It increases anandamide levels in the brain (Campos & Soares, 2017). Anandamide is an endogenous cannabinoid that our body produces on its own, and is also known as the “bliss molecule.”

And here is what we know it doesn’t do:

  • It does not have any psychotropic effects (no “high”)
  • It does not have any residual effect on cognitive or psychomotor functions (for example it does not cause drowsiness that makes it dangerous to drive) (Crippa et al., 2018).
  • It does not interfere with the normal sleep cycle (Crippa et al., 2018)
  • It does not have any known negative side effects even at doses as high as 1500 mg per day (Grotenherman & Iffland, 2017).

Most likely, there are a plethora of other ways CBD oil relieves anxiety, scientists just haven’t been able to identify them yet. Is it risky to take CBD oil when we aren’t exactly sure how it alleviates anxiety? Well, consider this: we have cannabinoid receptors which are biologically designed to bind to cannabinoids, we make our own cannabinoids even when we aren’t taking any, CBD oil has been proven safe and effective as a treatment for anxiety in many human and animal studies, and it is essentially devoid of any negative side effects.

If I were choosing between CBD oil and what pharmaceuticals had to offer for anxiety disorders, I think I’d take my chances.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read in my blog, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Understanding the facts of anxiety disorders. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety

Blessing, E., Steenkamp, M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6066583/

Campos, V. & Soares, A. (2017). Evidences for the anti-panic actions of cannabidiol. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412699/

Crippa, A., Crippa, J., Eckeli, A., Guimaraes, F., Hallack, J., Linares,… Zuardi, A. (2018). No acute effects of cannabidiol on the sleep-wake cycle of healthy subjects: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5895650/

Groterherman, F. & Iffland, K. (2017) An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: A review of clinical data and relevant animal studies. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/