Managing Anxiety Naturally

Managing Anxiety Naturally

By Allison Riehs | Naturopath

Almost all of us will experience some form of anxiety in our lifetime, but for many, anxiety is a daily struggle that wreaks havoc on health.

Feelings such as fear, worry, stress or panic are all variants of this unpleasant state of being.

While these feelings can be normal from time to time, they can become debilitating in cases of chronic anxiety.

So what exactly is anxiety, why does it happen, and how can we manage anxiety naturally?   

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is actually a normal human emotion. It is a response to a perceived threat or warning of danger and enables a person to deal with that threat1.

Experiencing occasional symptoms of anxiety is normal, however if the effects of anxiety start to impact on our lives, then it may be time to act.

Symptoms of anxiety

There are many different ways anxiety can affect us.

The effects of anxiety can be:

  • Psychological: Fear and worry about thoughts or events of the past, present or future
  • Physical: Rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking, upset stomach, headache, irritability  
  • Behavioural: Isolation, avoidance, fear of going out

Causes of anxiety

There are many possible causes of anxiety so it is important to seek professional advice to understand what may be causing your symptoms.

Possible causes of anxiety include:

  • Panic disorder
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Stress at work or school
  • Relationship or financial stress
  • Stress as a result of life events (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Emotional trauma
  • Side-effect of medication

How Naturopathy can help with managing anxiety naturally

Complementary and alternative medicine pathways such as naturopathy have become more common in the treatment of general anxiety and anxiety disorders.

The rising cost of prescription medications and their unwanted side effects may be why more people are exploring herbal and other natural remedies for the management and treatment of psychological conditions.2

With the use of specific herbs and supplements as well as dietary and lifestyle changes, anxiety may be managed naturally without the need for conventional medication.

So let’s take a look at some of these natural management approaches:

Food and Diet: Anxiety places additional demands on the body in terms of nutrition and energy requirements. Stress increases adrenal production and the body’s use of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and micronutrients, which further accelerates metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, producing fast-burning energy to respond to stress3. This is commonly known as ‘fight or flight’ mode.

As a result, food choices can help or hinder healthy stress levels.

Foods with anti-anxiety benefits:

  • Fatty fish: High in Omega-3 for a positive effect on cognitive ability and mental health.
  • Brazil nuts: High in selenium which improves mood by reducing inflammation.
  • Eggs: A source of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D – proven to assist in lifting mood disorders
  • Cacao: Raw cacao contains nutrients that improve mood and alleviate anxiety.
  • Pumpkin seeds: High in potassium and zinc which are linked to positive mood.

Foods to avoid if you have anxiety:

  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Gluten
  • Processed foods

Allergies & Intolerances: Research has discovered that gastrointestinal inflammation – one of the most frequent symptoms of food intolerance – is frequently found in those showing signs of depression and anxiety.

Likewise, if you’re suffering from digestive problems, the chance of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety increases. The importance of undertaking food allergy and intolerance testing cannot be understated as part of any plan to treat or manage anxiety.

Nutritional Supplements: There are a number of nutrients that are important when it comes to managing anxiety levels.

  • B vitamins: Speak to your naturopath or nutritionist about the best B-complex for your needs, rather than individual B vitamin supplementation.
  • Vitamin A: Another natural weapon in the battle against anxiety. People lacking Vitamin A have a higher chance of experiencing anxiety.
  • Essential fatty acids: From fish oil or seeds (such as chia, flaxseed, and hemp) are also useful in avoiding and reducing the severity of anxiety.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The body makes its own vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure, and it is also found in eggs and fatty fish. 
  • Plant GABA: This lesser known amino acid is believed to help regulate the metabolism in response to stress and assist with lowering anxiety and aiding sleep.
  • Magnesium: Activates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps to instill a feeling of calm. Studies have found feelings of anxiety can be significantly reduced with greater magnesium intake4.

Herbs: Nutritional and herbal supplementation has been proven as an effective method for treating anxiety  and anxiety-related conditions without the risk of serious side effects. Strong evidence exists for the use of herbal supplements containing extracts of passionflower or kava and combinations of L-lysine and L-arginine as treatments for anxiety symptoms and disorders5.

Certain herbs contain phytochemicals which may also help ease symptoms associated with anxiety. 

Heavy metals: Heavy metals like lead, mercury, aluminium and cadmium can cause severe toxicity when allowed to build up in the body. They are found naturally in soil but we are also exposed to them through pollution and products that most of us use every day. Testing is available to determine heavy metal levels in the body.

Lifestyle: There are many simple lifestyle changes that have been shown to help reduce anxiety. These include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Spending less time on screens and social media
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Adequate sleep
  • Healthy diet 
  • Cut out caffeine
  • Gratitude
  • Talking to a trusted friend
  • Journaling

Disclaimer: If you are currently taking prescription medication for anxiety, do not stop taking your medicine. Always consult your health practitioner for personal medical advice. This article is for general information only and does not constitute medical advice.


Are you experiencing anxiety? Or interested in allergy or heavy metal testing? Book an appointment with Allison today!



  1. Gautam. M, 2012, ‘Role of antioxidants in in generalised anxiety disorder and depression’,Indian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 54, (3): 244–247 pp 3-4 <>
  2. Lakhan. S, et al., 2010, ‘Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: Systematic review’, Global Neuroscience Initiative, Vol 9, Article 42, pp 1-2 <>
  3.  Gautam. M, et al., 2012,  ‘Role of antioxidants in in generalised anxiety disorder and depression’,Indian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 54, (3): 244–247 pp 4-5 <>
  4. Boyle. M, et al., 2017, ‘The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review’, MDPI Nutrients, Vol 9 (5), issue 429, pp 1-2 <>
  5. Lakhan. S, et al., 2010, ‘Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: Systematic review’, Global Neuroscience Initiative, Vol 9, Article 42, pp 1-2 <>
  6. Nemetcheck. M, et al., 2017, ‘The Ayurvedic plant Bacopa Monnieri inhibits inflammatory pathways in the brain’, HHS Public Access, Vol 2, Issue 197, pp 2-3 <>
  7. Akhondzadeh. S, et al., 2001, ‘Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety’, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Vol 26, Issue 5, pp 1 <>