Natural beta blockers may help relieve anxiety without harmful side effects. But are they as effective as pharmaceuticals? And how exactly do they work?
Stressed out to the max? Feeling anxious much of the time? Clearly, you’re not alone. Anxiety affects almost one in five American adults. That’s about 40 million people over the age of 18. [SOURCE]
The conventional medical treatment for anxiety is beta blockers. These are a group of pharmaceutical drugs. The name “beta blockers” derives from their primary action.
Namely, these drugs block the action of beta adrenergic receptors. By doing this, beta blockers reduce the effects and amount of stress hormones in your body.
Stress hormones are necessary. You’re probably familiar with stories of superhuman feats of strength. A mother lifting a car to free a child comes to mind.
Those feats are impossible without stress hormones springing into action. A healthy stress response is also vital for making it through a strenuous cardio kickboxing class.
However, when your bloodstream is constantly flooded with stress hormones, that’s not good. Toxic stress increases the risk for chronic disease. The frequent secretion of stress hormones can also impair memory.
And for 18% of the U.S. adults, the over-secretion of stress hormones produces some level of anxiety. Beta blockers are generally used for cardiac disorders and high blood pressure.
However, beta blockers are also used to treat anxiety disorders. But natural beta blockers could be an option.
Pharmaceutical Beta Blockers For Anxiety: A Killer Prescription?
The problem with conventional beta blockers is they can cause side effects. In fact, prescribed beta blockers may even cause death.
According to this article on Mercola.com, beta-blockers for non-cardiac patients have killed hundreds of thousands of people.
If you have anxiety, there’s no need to get, well, more anxious about beta blockers. That’s because there are some natural alternatives.
There is some research that suggests natural beta blockers for anxiety work. However, funding for large clinical trials pales in comparison to pharmaceutical beta blockers.
So what’s the best natural beta blocker? Some are highlighted below. However, let’s first learn some more basics about beta blockers.
How do beta blockers work?
Beta blockers prevent two main stress hormones from binding to their receptor sites. These two stress hormones are norepinephrine and epinephrine.
The latter of the two is better known as adrenaline. The former, norepinephrine, is also called noradrenaline.
What’s the difference between these two stress hormones?
Your body only releases adrenaline (epinephrine) when you have stress. In comparison, noradrenaline (norepinephrine) is always in your bloodstream. Its main role is to regulate blood pressure.
What beta blockers do is block the effects of adrenaline. What does this action mean if you have anxiety? It allows your heart to relax.
And theoretically, if you have anxiety, if your heart is more relaxed, so will be the rest of you.
Natural beta blockers for anxiety
However, anti-anxiety drugs have a dark side. They can lead to addiction. Moreover, they may produce undesirable side effects. These include depression, low libido, even suicidal thoughts and seizures.
And here’s another concern with anti-anxiety drugs. They do not actually normalize neurotransmitter activity. Instead, they alter brain chemistry.
This is especially the case with drugs called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). One major problem with SSRIs is they lose their effectiveness over time.
Considering the dangers of pharmaceutical beta blockers, natural beta blockers for anxiety are a safer option. And not only are they potentially safer, they may be more effective.
What is a natural beta blocker
A natural beta blocker is either a vitamin or herb or amino acid.
In addition to blocking stress hormone receptors, natural beta blockers do something remarkable. They actually can help normalize hormone function.
This beneficial physiological action is something pharmaceutical beta blockers don’t do. And what else is remarkable about these natural alternatives is they normalize hormone levels and function without side effects.
For example, if you’re wondering what the best natural beta blocker is, you’re probably already familiar with some. Omega-3 fatty acids increases dopamine.
According to this article, anxiety and dopamine are directly related. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. And if you get stressed easily, a section of your brain—the amygdala—isn’t getting the right amount of dopamine.
Other natural alternatives to that increase dopamine uptake in the brain include vitamins C, D and E.
Now, if you consume plenty of good sources of omega 3’s like wild salmon and still have anxiety, fret not. There’s more best natural beta blockers on our list….
Natural beta blockers supplements
Another neurotransmitter that the brain might not get enough of in the case of anxiety is serotonin.
Your serotonin level can impact your mood. It can also influence how you act in social situations. Moreover, serotonin also plays an important role in libido.
There are some natural beta blockers that also increase serotonin. Omega-3 fatty acids not only boost dopamine uptake, they also increase serotonin as well.
Certain chemicals are critical in the uptake of serotonin in the brain. The supplements L-tryptophan and 5-HTP (the precursor to tryptophan) are natural beta blocker supplements.
You may be familiar with tryptophan because it’s an amino acid best known for its mellowing effect after a Thanksgiving meal. Other supplements that increase dopamine production include vitamins C, D and E.
Vitamins play a critical role in the proper firing of neurotransmitters. If your diet is full of processed food, your neurons aren’t going to receive the nerve impulse and hormone messages from your neurotransmitters.
Natural beta blockers list
Here’s a partial list of the best natural beta blockers:
Glutamine is an amino acid. It helps recycle antioxidants. For this reason, it’s often referred to as the master antioxidant.
Glutamine not only helps build muscle and burn fat, it also plays a critical role in helping the brain relax. It does this by helping make the neurotransmitter, GABA.
Tryptophan and Tyrosine
You already know about tryptophan in turkey. Both it, as well as tyrosine are amino acids. They both help produce serotonin and dopamine (as well as blood-pressure lowering norepinephrine).
If you read the above section, by now, you understand how those with anxiety are deficient in serotonin and dopamine. Thus, tryptophan and tyrosine might just be a couple of the best natural beta blockers.
Several studies link a deficiency in the diet of these amino acids with anxiety.
L-lysine and L-arginine
These two are also amino acids. L-lysine deficiency also raises the risk of anxiety. As for arginine, this study suggests supplementation with it reduces the level of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Moreover, arginine may help repair the proper the HPA axis. HPA stands for “hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal”. These three glands control the release of your stress hormones.
Certain minerals such as magnesium may also act as natural beta blockers. Magnesium supplementation, along with calcium, in this study relieved anxiety symptoms.
Bonus for magnesium, if you’re a menstruating female: when you supplement with it along with vitamin B6, it reduces premenstrual-related anxiety [SOURCE].
A trace mineral, selenium, is supported by at least a few studies, including this one, to reduce anxiety.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is a herbal remedy. According to this study, it also boosts brain levels of serotonin.
And remember the HPA axis and how it’s the main mechanism that controls your stress hormones? Well, it turns out St. John’s Wort also normalizes the HPA-axis. It does this by reducing inflammation.
Famous for its ability to improve concentration, ginkgo biloba has shown the ability in studies (albeit animal subjects) to reduce anxiety. It activates the neurotransmitter GABA. To reiterate, GABA encourages the brain activity to relax.
Ginkgo biloba is so effective at activating GABA that it’s just as effective at this action as benzodiazepine, which is one of the most common anti-anxiety drugs on the market. Of course, ginkgo side effects are much less severe and occur much less often than benzo.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb. That means that by nature, it helps normalize stress hormone levels.
Adaptogenic herbs are also safe, non-toxic and have a nonspecific response to stress. This means that it doesn’t matter what kind of stress you’re faced with; ashwagandha can help your body adapt to it.
Moreover, ashwagandha (aka “Indian ginseng” although it’s not a true ginseng) has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Kava is another herbal remedy that’s considered one of the best natural beta blockers. Kava’s compounds bind to GABA and dopamine receptors. It acts a muscle relaxer.
Kava kava is famous for its mild narcotic effects. On the island of Fiji, the root of kava is made into a muddy beverage, drunk ceremoniously until the gums of the mouth turn numb.
In the U.S., kava is mostly taken as an herbal extract. (Although some trendy kava lounges are sprouting up in hipster neighborhoods.)
Valerian also is involved with GABA synthesis.
By now, you should be familiar with the neurotransmitter, GABA. (Buying a GABA supplement is as simple as clicking here.) GABA reduces the excitability of your neurons. It basically chills your brain out during times of stress.
You probably know green tea is good for your health because of its antioxidants. But what you probably didn’t know is that green tea also contains an amino acid, theanine. Theanine calms the brain. Moreover, it increases the production of both dopamine. It also boosts GABA activity.
Numerous other botanicals act as natural beta blockers. These include chamomile, which can help you fall asleep.
This meta analysis of natural anti-anxiety remedies also lists hops, lemon balm, skullcap, passionflower and rosenroot as natural options.