Supplements like Ashwagandha Can Ease Stress, but Don’t Tackle Root Cause

Feeling stressed lately? If so, you’re not alone. A 2022 American Psychological Association poll found that the COVID-19 pandemic, in conjunction with other cultural problems, has increased stress levels in the United States, especially among young adults. 

Stress is not a minor irritation. It can cause serious health problems. Three-quarters of adults in the APA survey said they’ve experienced headaches, fatigue, or felt nervous or anxious because of stress. Stress can have adverse effects on almost any bodily system, with symptoms ranging from brain fog and stomachaches to serious cardiovascular problems. 

What Are the Best Supplements for Stress?

When stress sets in, turning to supplements for relief is tempting. Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence — one way or the other — about dietary supplements for stress, and safety data is also limited. However, a few supplements have shown some potential for safely dealing with stress. Here are a few that have limited research supporting their use. 

1. Ashwagandha

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Ashwagandha is a plant used in Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient form of healthcare still used in India and other parts of the world today. Ashwagandha is sometimes known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry.  Some evidence, including a 30-day randomized control trial involving college students, has shown that ashwagandha may reduce perceived stress as compared to placebo. 

Read More: Melatonin and Ashwagandha Could Help you Sleep Better, Along With Some Vitamins

2. Green Tea (L-Theanine)

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Maybe you just need a nice cup of tea? L-theanine, a compound in green tea, looks promising for reducing stress. A 2019 meta-analysis found that the compound might help reduce stress and anxiety in people exposed to stressful conditions. 

Researchers create stressful situations in the lab by asking participants to do two complex tasks at the same time or to do a complex task while being repeatedly interrupted, or similar strategies. However, the researchers noted that more and larger studies are needed before L-theanine can be recommended for stress. 

Read More: 5 Natural Remedies To Boost Health

3. Melatonin

(Credit: Yuriy Golub/Shutterstock)

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain when natural light dims at the end of the day, helping us to nod off. However, there has been some research on melatonin’s effect on anxiety as well. Because most of this research has been on anxiety related to surgical procedures, such as a study on melatonin for pre- and post-surgical anxiety, more research needs to be done to determine whether it is helpful for other forms of anxiety.

Read More: Do Melatonin Diffusers Help You Sleep Better

4. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

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Some research has found that lemon balm may relieve stress. In one study, participants reported feeling calmer after a 600-milligram dose of the herb. Another small study of adults 23 to 28 years old found that foods containing lemon balm (in this case, a beverage and a yogurt drink) could relieve stress. But again, more research is needed to determine lemon balm’s benefits for stress.

Read More: Strange Side Effects From Supplements and What You Need to Know

Should You Take Supplements for Stress?

All of the above treatments are generally considered safe if you stay within the recommended doses. However, before taking any supplement, check with your doctor and your pharmacist, and be sure they know what other medicines and supplements you’re taking. 

“Some supplements can interact with prescription medications and can impact the absorption of other nutrients,” says Angela Blackstone, a registered dietician and nutritionist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “If you’re thinking of starting a nutritional supplement, it’s important that you discuss it with your healthcare team.”

However, before turning to supplements for stress, you should try to figure out the root cause of the stress. This can help you choose the best way to manage it, advises Blackstone. In many cases, a healthy diet, regular physical activity, a good sleep routine, and practicing relaxation activities can help in managing stress, she says. “The goal should be to meet your nutritional needs through food first by eating a variety of whole foods and less processed foods and added sugars.”

And if stress is more than an occasional minor problem, talk to your doctor.

Read More: What Science Says About Why You’re Stressed and How to Cope

This article is not offering medical advice and should be used for informational purposes only.

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Author: showrunner