Anxiety can be crippling for as many as 40 million adults in the United States (approximately 18 percent of the population).1
It is one of the most common mental health issues, and is easily treated, yet only one-third of sufferers actually seek out help.
Symptoms of anxiety can manifest as butterflies in the stomach, pounding heartbeat, or sweaty palms, among other physical symptoms.2 In most cases, anxiety is a normal response to certain stimuli.3 When anxiety becomes overwhelming and reoccurring, it can be debilitating. Fortunately there are supplements for anxiety that can help.
Anxiety in the DC’s office
Inevitably DCs will come across patients with some form of anxiety. If these patients have tried to find relief from traditional medicine, to no avail, they may be even more anxious as to whether or not chiropractic care can help.
Fortunately, research has shown that chiropractic adjustments can lower blood pressure, reducing anxiety.4 Patients with anxiety needing a boost between adjustment appointments can use herbal and nutritional supplements to help.
An article published in the journal American Family Physician looked at the evidence for effectiveness of several herbal and nutritional supplements to treat anxiety. Overall, the two most effective treatments appeared to be the herbal supplement kava and the nutritional supplement inositol.5
Kava (Piper methysticum) is one of the most popular herbs for treating anxiety.6 It comes in a variety of forms, including pill and tea form. The herb reportedly does not slow reaction time for activities such as driving, which can happen with prescription anxiety medications.6
Kava was found to be effective for short-term treatment of mild to moderate anxiety, with mild side effects, if any.5
Inositol at anywhere from 12 g to 18 g per day was found to be a good treatment for panic attacks, It was also a good treatment at the same dose for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, inositol should not be taken in conjunction with any of the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft, Prozac, or Celexa.5 DCs should carefully screen patients specifically for SSRIs in order to avoid an adverse reaction.
Most people know ginger (Zingiber officinale) as either a kitchen spice or as part of ginger ale or ginger beer. However, it has been a staple ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine to treat anxiety.7 In a 2010 study, ginger compounds were shown to interact with serotonin receptors to reduce anxiety.8
St. John’s wort
St. John’s wort is one of the more popular herbal supplements for treating depression and anxiety. A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that half of the study patients taking St. John’s wort for 12 weeks were rated as “much” or “very much” improved. Furthermore, improvement was seen as quickly as one week after the study trial began.9
A study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics examined the effect of passionflower as compared to an anti-anxiety medication (oxazepam) and placebo in treating generalized anxiety disorder. Although no significant difference was found between the effect of passionflower and oxazepam was found, patients taking passionflower reported less job impairment than those taking oxazepam.10
Care for anxiety
Anxiety can have a crippling effect on patients, impairing their work and social lives. Fortunately, there are quality alternatives to standard pharmacologic treatments. Often these medications may come with undesirable side effects, making supplement alternatives valuable.
1 Anxiety and Depression Society of America. “Facts & statistics.” http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics. Updated September 2014. Accessed September 2015.
2 Smith M, Robinson L, Segal J. “Anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks.” http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/anxiety-attacks-and-anxiety-disorders.htm. HelpGuide. Last updated August 2015. Accessed September 2015.
3 National Institute of Mental Health “Any anxiety disorder among adults.” http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml. Published December 2010. Accessed September 2015.
4 Yates RG, Lamping DL, Abram NL, Wright C. Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1988;11(6):484-8.
5 Saeed SA, Bloch RM, Antonacci DJ. Herbal and dietary supplements for treatment of anxiety disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2007 15;76(4):549-56.
6 Krans B. “Can kava cure anxiety?” http://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/kava-cure#3. Healthline. Published October 2010. Accessed September 2015.
7 Roizman T. “Ginger for anxiety.” http://www.livestrong.com/article/422611-ginger-root-for-anxiety/. LiveStrong. Published August 2013. Accessed September 2015.
8 Nievergelt A, Huonker P, Schoop R, Altmann KH, Gertsch J. Identification of serotonin 5-HT1A receptor partial agonists in ginger. Bioorg Med Chem. 2010 1;18(9):3345-51.
9 Taylor LH, Kobak KA. An open-label trial of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) in obsessive-compulsive disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;61:575-8.
10 Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, et al. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001;26:363-7.