Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, millions of women have sought a doctor’s help to deal with anxiety. Here, how to harness the power of natural anxiety cures that will ease your mind — without harmful side effects!
“We are in the middle of a pandemic, but it has caused a pandemic of anxiety as well,” asserts Frank Lipman, MD, author of How to Be Well ($25.51, Amazon). “Most people are feeling anxious.” In fact, according to prescription app DrFirst’s iPrescribe, the number of prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication rose by more than 30 percent in the weeks after the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.
But anti-anxiety medications aren’t risk-free. “People become dependent on them, and there are withdrawal symptoms when you want to go off them,” warns clinical nutritionist Donielle Wilson, ND, author of The Stress Remedy ($19.85, Amazon). “They can also cause fatigue, dizziness, difficulty focusing, digestive issues, or skin rashes.” And then there’s the cost: Americans spend an average of $1,104 out-of-pocket annually on prescription drugs for anxiety and depression.
Fortunately, you can get relief for as little as $60 a year with natural remedies proven to ease anxiety — without side effects. Read on for the drug-free solutions
If tension causes physical pain…
Stress can trigger tension headaches, back and neck pain and overall soreness. The fix: a simple mineral. “Magnesium calms the nervous system, reducing anxiety,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, author of The Magnesium Miracle ($12.16, Amazon). It’s also a muscle relaxant that’s been proven to cut pain by 33 percent.
“One of the best things about magnesium is that you can apply it right where you’re feeling sore,” adds Dr. Wilson. In a British study, magnesium absorbed through the skin increased levels of the mineral up to five times faster than tablets or capsules. One we like: Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion ($19.95, Ancient-Minerals)
If worry saps your mental energy…
Even when you’re not actively focusing on anxious thoughts, they’re still running in the background, adding to mental exhaustion. That’s where rhodiola comes in.
“Traditionally, this herb has been used to fight fatigue and increase attention span,” explains Daniel Amen, MD, author of The End of Mental Illness ($16.89, Amazon). In his studies of the herb, subjects reported better mood and energy. And in a Chinese study, adults made 88 percent fewer mistakes on a test of focus when they took rhodiola compared to when they didn’t— taking 200 mg. daily helped women feel 59 percent more clearheaded.
For best results, look for a supplement that is standardized to include 3 percent rosavins and 1 percent salidrosides, like Pure Encapsulations Rhodiola Rosea ($18.80, Pure Formulas). Dr. Amen suggests taking the dose before 2 pm, as rhodiola may interfere with sleep.
If anxiety keeps you awake…
A brain busy with anxious thoughts can make sleep impossible — and researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, report that missing out on sleep can make anxiety worse.
The all-natural fix: passionflower extract. “It works by promoting the activity of GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms the anxiety center of the brain,” explains Dr. Lipman. And according to a study in Phytotherapy Research, passionflower quiets the mind as effectively as Valium to help you sleep 72% more deeply.
To get the study-backed dose, take 250 mg. of passionflower extract 20 minutes before bed, like Solaray Passion Flower Extract 250 mg. ($9.99, Vitacost). If you don’t sleep more soundly after three nights, increase your dose to 500 mg.
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.