People who have an anxiety disorders or who experience occasional anxiety may seek relief from their symptoms in the form of herbal products or supplements. But natural health products should be seen as complements to comprehensive anxiety treatment - not as treatments on their own. In spite of all the buzz about natural health products and their effect on anxiety disorders, there is simply not enough evidence for experts to recommend these products as top-line treatments for anxiety disorders.

Also, natural health products are not safe for everyone, can be dangerous to some, and may interact with medications or interfere with their effectiveness. "Natural" doesn't mean "safe" - they're still acting on your body, and there are plenty of natural things that can harm you. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before deciding to take any supplement to ease your anxiety.

B vitamin complex

What is it? This complex of nutrients includes vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid or folate), and vitamin B12 (cobalamin).

What does it do? Several of the nutrients in the B vitamin complex play a role in the brain's production of neurotransmitters, the nerve cells that transmit information between nerves, muscles, organs, and tissues. Their role in helping relieving anxiety hasn't been proven yet.

Omega-3 fatty acids

What is it? Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found in fish, fish oils, vegetable oils, and leafy green vegetables. They are also available in supplemental form.

What does it do? Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in our brains. There, omega-3 fatty acids help our brain cells communicate, and they affect the functioning of dopamine and serotonin, brain chemicals that affect mood. Omega-3 fatty acids may also affect the brain processes that control mood and anxiety - it's not yet known for certain whether they do, but some research supports further study into the use of omega-3 fatty acids to ease anxiety.


What is it? Also called 5-HTP, this chemical is created in our bodies from the essential amino acid tryptophan. It is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin.

What does it do? In supplemental form, 5-HTP boosts levels of serotonin in the brain. The theory is that this may have a positive effect on anxiety; however, this is also as yet unproven.


What is it? Kava is a herb native to the South Pacific that is taken in supplement form as a capsule, tablet, or tincture.

What does it do? Kava creates a relaxing effect. Chemicals in kava have been found to promote sleep and relax muscles. Rarely, the herb can cause liver damage, so it's important that you check with your doctor first before taking kava.


What is it? The root of the herb valerian is used to make a medicine in capsule, tablet, or liquid extracts and teas.

What does it do? Valerian acts as a sedative to the brain and nervous system, making it a frequent choice for people having trouble sleeping. Research is ongoing to better understand whether valerian would be an effective complement to anxiety treatment.

Passion flower

What is it? Passionflower is a plant extract administered in tablet or liquid tincture form.

What does it do? Passionflower contains chemicals that calm, induce sleep, and relieve muscle spasms. Evidence suggests that passionflower can possibly help reduce anxiety symptoms.

L-lysine and L-arginine

What is it? L-lysine and L-arginine are amino acids - the building blocks that make up protein. They can be consumed through foods or taken in supplemental form.

What does it do? L-lysine combined with L-arginine may help to modulate levels of the stress hormone cortisol.