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Question:
Do any supplements help relieve stress?

Answer:
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.

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

One clinical trial found 500 mg of holy basil leaf extract taken twice daily significantly reduced measures of anxiety in men and women (Bhattacharyya, Nepal Med Coll J 2008). See the Encyclopedia article about Ayurvedic medicine for other uses for this herb - which is listed by its scientific name, Ocimum sanctum.

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.

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. There is some evidence that daily supplementation with a multivitamin-multimineral supplement may help people to cope with stressful situations.

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

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Robert17139   September 4, 2018
I have heard good things about Relora (a combo of Magnolia and Phellodendon )for anxiety

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.

This CL Answer initially posted on 4/11/2015. Last updated 8/3/2017.

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