Answer:

Yes, there is evidence that certain supplements may help to reduce stress. For example, fish oil may blunt some of the effects of mental stress, such as increased heart rate and nervous activity. Several clinical studies show ashwagandha may help to relieve symptoms in people with anxiety. And, interestingly, a particular probiotic has been shown to lower levels of the "stress" hormone cortisol, and measures of psychological distress such as depression and anger. 

There is some preliminary evidence that L-theanine, an amino acid found in black and green tea, may reduce stress responses without causing drowsiness, and there is some evidence that the herbs passionflower and lemon balm may be helpful for anxiety.

Ginseng is sometimes promoted for reducing stress, although one clinical study found it did not have an effect on cortisol levels. There is weak evidence that valerian supplements may produce a calming effect in stressful situations.

Preliminary, short-term studies suggest that holy basil extract may help to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, but more research is needed to determine if it is effective and safe for these conditions. 

Be aware that low blood levels of iron and vitamin B6 have been associated with stress responses such as hyperventilation and panic attacks in women (Mikawa, Acta Med Okayama 2013), so be sure you're getting sufficient intake of these nutrients.

For more information, use the links above, and see the Encyclopedia article about Stress.

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9 Comments

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Jean 667
April 14, 2015

I've been taking (Planetary Herbals) Liquid Herbal Extract Ashwagandha for almost 3 years. 1/2 tsp twice daily has done wonders with my anxiety/stress. Rhodiola did not help me.

Gary664
April 13, 2015

Holy Basil has been used for centuries as a stress reducer.

ConsumerLab.com
April 14, 2015

Hi Gary - We've now added some information about this to the Answer above.

ConsumerLab.com
April 13, 2015

Hi Ralph and Donna - You may be interested in this CL Answer about Rhodiola: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/%20/Rhodiola_rosea_depression/ and the Encyclopedia article about this herb: http://www.consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=111798.

Ralph659
April 12, 2015

Rhodiola is widely touted to reduce stress and promote an upbeat mood. It's produced in many brands.

sharon656
April 12, 2015

Kava works great for stress, been using it for over 20 years....when needed.

Donna655
April 12, 2015

I've personally found the adaptogen, rhodiola rosea, (used by Russian cosmonauts and Olympic athletes) helps my body deal with stressful events better.

Niela654
April 12, 2015

My chiropractor/nutritionist recommends Rescue Remedy (Bach's Flower Remedy) and GABA. These reduce stress without making you drowsy.

Christina20057
May 27, 2020

My sister who is a medical doctor occasionally takes a chewable supplement of GABA for stress and finds it very helpful. Unfortunately it didn't seem to alleviate my stress. I think different things can work for different people.

Arian18147
July 19, 2019

I was diagnosed with clinical anxiety disorder and panic disorder, which is consistent with the symptoms I had been having for a long time. Panic attacks are the worst - feels like I can't breathe and I'm dying. The psych med I take for them, Ativan (lorazepam), is effective and fast-acting, but too easy to get dependent on. So I've found for me (everyone is different though) that the next best option and one that doesn't create chemical dependency is a combination of Stress-Relax by Natural Factors, Serenity Formula + - 1 capsule for mild stress, 2 for more severe (2020 update - same formula now sold under same brand as "Adrenal Serenity"; + Herb Pharm Albizia Liquid Extract (1 eye dropper full for mild anxiety, 2 for more severe). For mild stress or anxiety I can often can by with just the Albizia.
Ingredients of Stress-Relax are:
Sensoril Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) powdered extract (root & leaf): minimum 8% Withanolides; Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) powdered extract (root) 0.8% Eleutherosides; Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) powdered extract (aerial); Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) powdered extract (root): 3.5% Rosavins, 1% Salidrosides.

The combination of the two works almost as well as the Ativan Rx but they take a bit longer to fully kick in, especially the capsule.

Robert17139
September 4, 2018

I have heard good things about Relora (a combo of Magnolia and Phellodendon )for anxiety

Paul19378
April 9, 2020

I have found that Relora (a blend of magnolia bark extract & philodendron bark extract as mentioned in this post) do wonders for me!! I am wondering about best brands etc, because it can be quite expensive. Hoping CL posts some articles soon about this supplement. I've used in off and on during high stress periods with panic, anxiety and PTSD... and have found that for me, if i take it in the morning right away, my panic/anxiety responses level off considerably. With CoVid anxiety all around me, I have been taking Relora regularly and occasionally during the day on higher stimulus days, and I am doing amazing well!! Thanks for mentioning Relor!

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