Mental health issues are a worldwide problem affecting millions of people. There are prescription medications that can really help with these issues, but there are also herbal supplements available, which provide some benefits.
There are a number of natural supplements that offer advantages in the realm of psychiatric health. Some organic substances have research backing up their efficacy in treating the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety in particular.
Sometimes when you’re learning about supplements, you require additional information. That’s why websites like Supplement Lexicon can be a useful resource for looking up facts and information you need.
This article will cover some of the most potent supplements in this area and explain to you their benefits, drawbacks, and safety.
Serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression can cause additional problems in employment, family life, school, and other essential areas. Worldwide, 3.4% of people have been diagnosed with depression and 3.8% suffer from anxiety disorders (1).
Many homeopathic substances have emerged as possible help for these conditions, although you should always check with a medical physician first. Ingredients like St. John’s Wort and 5-HTP may enhance positive mood, for example, and substances like magnesium could have an impact on anxiety.
Here are some of the best natural ingredients for mental health and the evidence to support their efficacy.
Best Natural Supplements for Mental Health
St. John’s Wort
This is a plant called Hypericum Perforatum, which grows in Europe. It’s often prescribed for depression in that continent, while in North America, it’s still an herbal supplement (2).
The main active ingredient in the plant is called hyperforin. This is a phytochemical, which inhibits the reuptake of the depression-related brain chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine (3).
When it comes to depression, there’s research showing that it’s an effective treatment for mild to moderate symptoms (4). A review of the research on St. John’s Wort and depression in Systematic Reviews confirmed this point.
The report found the substance not significantly different from prescription antidepressants when it comes to effectiveness.
A critical issue with this plant is that it can interact with some common medications.
For example, you can’t take it alongside prescription antidepressants, or it can make your serotonin levels too high (2).
Magnesium is a crucial mineral in the functioning of the body, involved in essential processes like energy production, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, glucose control, and regulation of blood pressure (5). The levels of magnesium in the general population in North America are relatively low (6).
There’s evidence it can play a role in lowering levels of anxiety. A systematic review of the literature in Nutrients discovered that magnesium has a beneficial effect on anxiety levels in vulnerable populations.
Some of these studies included other substances as well as magnesium, so the results for this mineral alone on anxiety are not 100% certain. However, there’s enough evidence to be sure it has some kind of effect on lowering anxiety (6).
Unless you take too high an amount, getting side effects after taking magnesium is quite rare.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These are polyunsaturated fats that are found in fish oils like salmon, sardines, and anchovies. They exist in cell membranes, and they help the cells with communication (7).
Omega 3 fatty acids have many health benefits like lowering triglyceride levels, lessening the chance of heart attack and stroke, and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (7).
There’s evidence to indicate that this substance is beneficial in treating the symptoms of depression in both adults, children, and adolescents (8). For example, a study in CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics found that omega 3 fatty acids were more effective than placebo at treating bipolar depression in adults and kids.
Omega 3 fatty acids are relatively mild to take and don’t lead to serious side effects. You may experience a fishy aftertaste, bad breath, loose stools, nausea, or a rash (9)
Lysine is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It also may influence important neurotransmitters in the brain that are linked to stress and anxiety (10). It acts as a serotonin receptor, lessening the impact of stress on the brain.
Also, it can lower cortisol levels, which diminishes anxiety (10). Research supports this conclusion.
For example, one study looked at anxiety in economically weak families in Northern Syria. They concluded that lysine significantly reduced chronic anxiety, particularly in men (11).
Lysine is reasonably safe in moderate amounts, although it may cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and increased calcium absorption. If you take it in high doses, it can lead to kidney issues (12).
5-Hydroxytryptophan is the amino acid that is the direct precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. This brain chemical is linked strongly to happiness, and a shortage of it is often associated with depression.
The research linking 5-HTP to depression is somewhat mixed, but there is evidence that supports the connection. An extensive scale review in the National Library of Medicine showed that 5-HTP was an effective treatment for depression compared with a placebo, according to numerous studies.
This substance could lead to some mild side effects, including stomach pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, diarrhea, sexual problems, and muscle problems (13). In general, 5-HTP is relatively safe to take.
Should You Try A Supplement For Your Depression or Anxiety?
If you’re suffering from mental health problems like depression or anxiety, it’s crucial that you first go to a medical doctor to seek treatment. If you plan to take a supplement like the ones mentioned here, discuss it with your doctor and make it part of your treatment plan.
You should never take a substance like this without clearing it with your physician. Some of them have side effects that could be relevant to your medical history. Others can’t be taken in conjunction with certain medications like antidepressants. With proper supervision, these supplements can be beneficial in treating some of the symptoms you experience.
When it comes to mental health problems like depression and anxiety, there’s a large bank of possible treatments in the form of prescription medications. However, several natural supplements have demonstrated capabilities in lessening these effects.
Supplements like St. John’s Wort, magnesium, lysine, 5 HTP, and omega 3 fatty acids have research backing their ability to lessen anxiety and depression. Some of these substances may be effective in easing your symptoms, so you may want to consider adding them to your treatment regimen.
If you’re interested in giving one or more a try, talk to your physician about this possibility. We hope you find the supplement that works for you.
- Ritchie, H. (2018, January 20). Mental Health. Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (n.d.). St. John’s Wort and Depression: In Depth. Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/st-johns-wort-and-depression-in-depth
- Zanoli, P. (2006). Role of Hyperforin in the Pharmacological Activities of St. John’s Wort. CNS Drug Reviews, 10(3), 203–218. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1527-3458.2004.tb00022.x
- St. John’s wort. (2017, October 13). Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-st-johns-wort/art-20362212
- National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium.
- The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. (2017). Nutrients, 9(5), 429. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9050429
- National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements – Omega3 Fatty Acids
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2008, October 1). Herbal and dietary supplements for depression. Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Herbal_and_dietary_supplements_for_depression
- Fish oil. (2017, October 24). Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-fish-oil/art-20364810
- Lakhan, S. E., & Vieira, K. F. (2010). Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutrition Journal, 9(1), Pages. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-42
- Smriga, M., Ghosh, S., Mouneimne, Y., Pellett, P. L., & Scrimshaw, N. S. (2004). Lysine fortification reduces anxiety and lessens stress in family members in economically weak communities in Northwest Syria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101(22), 8285–8288. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0402550101
- Lysine: Side Effects, Dosages, Treatment, Interactions, Warnings. (2017, May 15). Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_lysine/drugs-condition.htm
- 5-htp: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions. (2019, September 17). Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://www.rxlist.com/5-htp/supplements.htm#SafetyConcerns