Nootropics for Anxiety

Whether you are stressed out from pressure and problems, or making an important decision or traumatized from an event, feeling anxious every now and then, is a normal emotion. However, it becomes a problem when it is consistently interfering with your ability to lead a normal life.

Anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness and can be disabling and overwhelming for those who always fear and worry. Thankfully, although anxiety disorder cannot be prevented, there are some things that you can do to control or lessen symptoms so you can manage those feeling and get back to a fulfilling life.

Several types of anxiety disorder:

  • General anxiety disorder is the excessive, unrealistic tension and worry, even if there is little or nothing to provoke the anxiety.
  • Panic disorder is the feelings of terror that strike repeatedly and suddenly with no warning. Symptoms include sweating, chest pain, the feeling of choking, and irregular heartbeats.
  • Social anxiety disorder involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. It is often due to the fear of being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or lead to ridicule.
  • Specific Phobias are intense fears of a specific object or situation. The level of fear is usually inappropriate to the situation and can cause the individual to avoid common, everyday situations.

It is important to recognize that the natural nootropics for anxiety are only to temporarily alleviate the feeling of stress and anxiety. It will not prevent or cure anxiety disorders. So without further adieu, the top 5 best natural nootropics for anxiety are:

1) Ashwagandha – nootropics for anxiety

Ashwagandha is a medicinal root, traditionally used throughout the centuries in Indian medicine. It is growing in popularity in the nootropics community and is best known for its documented ability as a stress and anxiety reducer. Being considered as an adaptogen, it helps to improve the body’s reaction to stress by blocking the damaging effects of excess cortisol (stress hormone) and facilitate learning and memory.

One study, concluded Ashwagandha to improve an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves the self-assessed quality of life. Specifically, it reduced the levels of serum cortisol in patients with chronic anxiety and mental stress. While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, high and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (such as those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects. This ranges from impaired cognitive performance, high blood pressure, low immunity, and inflammatory responses in the body, decrease in muscle tissue, and heart disease.

Clinical trials have confirmed ashwagandha having useful anxiolytic potential that is capable of reducing both generalized and social anxiety in patients diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, but predominantly effective in the situation of chronic stress.

Other studies have shown that Ashwagandha (300 mg b.i.d. standardized to 1.5%, prepared from the root) has a potential to treat anxiety disorders.

Ashwagandha works by modulating the levels of monoamine oxidase and GABA in the brain. Since Ashwagandha exhibits GABA-like properties (inhibitory function – slows down neuron firing) this means that it also enhances calmness without creating drowsiness and have anti-depressant effects.

2) Bacopa Monierri – nootropics for anxiety

Bacopa Monierri is an extract from the Brahmi plant and has been used as a cognitive enhancer for thousands of years. It has the ability to reduce the negative effects of stress and relieve anxiety. Clinical trials showed that Bacopa Monierri has significant anxiolytic effects, producing a feeling of calm, tranquility, and reduces anxiety and depression in volunteers.

Bacopa Monierri acts as an adaptogen and produces its calming effects through multiple actions. It modulates the activity of neurotransmitter receptors such as the dopaminergic and serotonergic systems, to promote neuron communication. Bacopa’s active ingredients also support the activity of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that acts to prevent anxiety by restricting the firing of neurons that are over-excited by stress, such as cortisol.

One of the active ingredients is hersaponin, an alkaloid that has relaxing and sedative-like effects. Another active ingredient is bacoside, which can prevent dopamine receptor dysfunction. Since dopamine is responsible for the brain’s reward and pleasure systems, it is closely tied to mood.

On the other hand, to experience maximum benefits of Bacopa Monnieri, long duration of use is necessary, of at least two to three months. Therefore, Bacopa Monnieri will not enhance the cognitive abilities or relieve stress instantly but rather it will gradually.

3) Lion’s Mane – nootropics for anxiety

Lion’s Mane is an edible mushroom that can help improve anxiety and depression symptoms after several weeks of supplementation. It increases the amount of nerve growth factor in the brain which is a neurotrophin, a small secreted protein that is crucial for the survival and growth of neurons. It is one of the essential building blocks of neuroplasticity and brain health. The nerve growth factor advocates the growth of axons, which are nerve cells extension where impulses are conducted. Contrast, insufficient nerve growth factor damages cognition by leading to neuronal decay and the death of never cells. Therefore, the more axons that exist, the more rapid and efficient impulse transmission and better overall health and function of the brain.

Lion’s mane also encourages myelination, the development of the protein and lipid sheath that encases and protects axons. Myelin increases the speed at which impulses travel along the axons by increasing the electrical resistance of the neural cell walls and preventing the impulse from dissipating or leaving the axon. Additionally, myelination lays the foundation for the repair and regrowth of damaged axons, proving a path which regrowth can occur. This process is essential in protecting the brain from neurological diseases such as dementia and depression.

Just like Bacopa Monnieri, lion’s mane does not produce immediately noticeable effects and must be taken over time to experience its benefits.

4) Rhodiola Rosea – nootropics for anxiety

Rhodiola Rosea is a traditional Chinese perennial flowering plant in the family Crassulaceae and is used to promote physical and cognitive vitality. It acts as a neuroprotective and promotes longevity in preliminary evidence and reduces fatigue and exhaustion in prolonged stressful situations.

Rhodiola Rosea mechanisms of action are not completely documented but it appears to act by modulating a diverse amount of signaling pathways and molecular networks in the brain. This is done through a number of phytochemical that acts as monoamine oxidase inhibitors. The prevention of the breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters results in the enzymatic breakdown of dopamine and serotonin, both neurotransmitters that are associated with mood stabilization, motivation, and pleasure.

Rhodiola Rosea also increases the levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine – neurotransmitters associated with drive and energy – which enhances neuronal communication and positively affects mood, reduces fatigue perception and improves cognitive abilities.

In terms of stress, Rhodiola Rosea interacts with the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal which suppresses the production and release of cortisol, a potentially damaging hormone closely associated with stress. This is thought to increase the production and release of beta endorphins and opiate peptides, which have an anti-depressant action and are associated with stress reduction.

For individuals who deal with intense situations, high expectations, hectic schedules, and cope with the burn-out effect of long-term repetitive work or prolonged stress; Rhodiola Rosea helps the body achieve systemic balance and return the brain and body to normal functions, as it is an adaptogen.

Rhodiola Rosea offers a reassuring balance of the effects on stress without compromising long-term safety.

5) L-theanine – nootropics for anxiety

L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid and is found naturally in green tea leaves. It enables the user to reach an optimal state of relaxed concentration without the feeling of drowsiness. This is due to the fact that it induces the increase of GABA and glutamate. GABA receptors work as a “downer” modulator for the brain, while glutamate is the “upper” control. This explains why individuals do not feel as both receptors are targeted, hence it lightly relaxes the user while increasing his or her attention. When consumed as a supplement it is believed to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and neurodegeneration.

L-Theanine has positive effects on stress levels and increases several neurotransmitters including dopamine and serotonin. Through the inhibition of cortical neuron excitation, it creates anti-stress effects according to a 2006 study in biological psychology. Additionally, it is well-tolerated in trials, meaning it is safe.

List of other natural nootropics for anxiety:

  • 5-HTP
  • Kava Root
  • Macuna Pruriens
  • Magnesium
  • Magnolia Officinalis
  • Melatonin
  • Melissa Officinalis (lemon balm)
  • Valerian Officinalis (indirect nootropic)

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