natural supplements for anxiety and stress

7 Best Nootropics for Anxiety

David Tomen
Author:
David Tomen
12 minute read

Key Takeaways

  1. Understanding the root causes of anxiety, often associated with neurotransmitter imbalances, is crucial.
  2. Certain nootropics can be effective in alleviating anxiety symptoms by targeting specific neurotransmitters.
  3. Acetylcholine, dopamine, and GABA are some neurotransmitters related to anxiety, and supplements like Alpha GPC, CDP-Choline, and L-Tyrosine can help modulate their levels.
  4. A trial-and-error approach may be necessary to find the most effective nootropic for individual anxiety relief.
  5. Nootropics offer a natural alternative to traditional anti-anxiety medications, with the potential for fewer side effects​1​.

This post is for you if tried anti-anxiety meds, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, counseling, or psychotherapy. And are looking for a natural nootropic alternative to optimize your brain health.

Or maybe you tried talking to your doctor about how you feel and didn’t get the help you need.

It may be of little comfort, but did you know there is a 77% chance that your anxiety has been misdiagnosed as some physical problem instead?[i]

Because anxiety often manifests as sweating, trembling, nausea, abdominal problems, dizziness, insomnia, heart palpitations, accelerated heart rate, chest pain, shortness of breath, pins and needles, feeling like your losing control and/or feelings of impending doom.

Instead of dealing with the real cause, maybe you were sent down the wrong path. And are still looking for answers.

Nootropic supplements may help if you’re dealing with a genuine anxiety disorder. The kind of anxiety that has you feeling constantly on-edge and an overwhelming sense of dread.

The type of anxiety where you have difficulty concentrating, you’re irritable or restless to the point you’re avoiding family and friends just to numb yourself from feelings of worry and unrelenting doom. Stress hormones gone nuts.

You know, it’s that very type of stress that makes your blood pressure rise from doing too much, or being stretched thin and depression symptoms start to peak through your window and you may even begin to manifest this unresolved energy into panic attacks? Yeah, we’re talking about that kind.

Here you’ll discover the real cause of your anxiety symptoms. And get some help dealing with how you feel. Concrete steps to take that doesn’t include meditation, yoga, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or psychoanalysis.

The Root Cause of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Something may have happened that triggered the anxiety that has turned your life upside down. But if your feelings of anxiety are hanging on and won’t let go, it’s likely because of the dysfunction of neurochemicals in your brain.[ii]

It could be problems with acetylcholine, dopamine, GABA, glutamate, norepinephrine, or serotonin.

But the challenge is figuring out which neurotransmitter is causing the problem. And why drugs like benzodiazepines, SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs, and MAOIs are often prescribed for treating anxiety.

How to Find the Root Cause of Your Anxiety Symptoms

A sign of emotion categories that bring on social anxiety disorder.If you have been using an anti-anxiety drug and experienced some relief in your symptoms, you have a head-start.

Because now you have a clue what could be causing your problem. And it may be easier for you to decide which nootropics to try to help you get better and improve cognitive functioning.

First, become familiar with the mechanism of action (or pharmacology) of the med you are using. Wikipedia.org is a good resource for this information.

Simply do a search of Wikipedia for your drug’s generic name. And scroll down to the section “Pharmacology”. Sometimes called the “mechanism of action”.

Once you understand how the drug works in your brain. And which neurotransmitter system it affects. Scroll down the list of nootropic supplements below.

And choose one of the anti anxiety nootropics that has a similar mechanism of action to the drug you were using. Then follow the dosage recommendations for that supplement and try it to see if you feel any anxiety relief.

Typical signs of relief can include positive cognitive performance like reduced brain fog and mental fatigue, less emotional stress, and lowered blood pressure.

But if you’ve never tried using a pharmaceutical to treat your anxiety, or have used one that didn’t work, you’ll need to try each nootropic separately.

And by trial and error you’ll work your way down to find the neurotransmitter system that is causing your anxiety and mental disorders.

Start at the beginning of the list below and try the first nootropic for 1 or 2 days. And see how you feel. If you experience relief from your anxiety symptoms and improved mental health, success!

Now you know which neurotransmitter to work with. You can continue using that nootropic as recommended. And look for other natural nootropic adaptogens that work on the same system.

But if the first nootropic you try doesn’t provide any comfort for lowering your anxiety, put it aside. And try the next one for a couple of days again following dosage recommendations.

Go through the list one-by-one until you find a nootropic that helps you and relieves at least some of your anxiety symptoms.

Some of the nootropics on the list below are precursors. Which means it provides the chemical or molecule needed to make a specific neurotransmitter.

And others are adaptogens that affect a specific neurotransmitter system. Usually by modulating how that brain chemical works in your brain and improving cognitive function.

Let’s get started …

best anxiety supplements 2023Neurotransmitter imbalances

Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine plays a critical role in learning and memory. And acetylcholine levels are modulated by levels of stress in several regions of your brain.

Acetylcholine levels decline as you get older. You need choline for the production of acetylcholine. Not eating enough foods high in choline can also result in insufficient acetylcholine.

In fact, choline is so vital to cognition and nerve function that, without it, we couldn’t move, think, sleep or remember anything.

Studies show that acetylcholine signaling in your hippocampus regulates social stress resilience and anxiety.[iii]

You can increase acetylcholine levels in your brain using either Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline (Citicoline).

Alpha GPC

natural remedies for anxietyAlpha GPC is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Alpha GPC naturally occurs in your brain as a byproduct of phosphatidylcholine (PC).

When your brain needs more choline, and the choline floating around in your brain is running low, it breaks down PC from cell membranes. And turns it into Alpha GPC.

Alpha GPC, acetyl L-carnitine (ALCAR), and phosphatidylserine (PS) provide mitochondrial support and conserve growth factor receptors.

DHA (Omega-3) combines with Alpha GPC and PS to form brain cell membranes critical for neuron generation and regeneration.[iv]

Recommended dosage of Alpha GPC is 300 mg 3-times per day.

CDP-Choline (Citicoline)

CDP-Choline is a type of choline that is present in every cell in your body.

Taken as a supplement, it’s then converted to cytidine and choline in your gut. Once it crosses the blood-brain barrier it’s converted back to CDP-Choline.[v] The choline then assists cell membranes and helps create acetylcholine.

CDP-Choline is involved in memory and cognitive functions. And provides energy for the brain to conduct sustained mental effort.

Recommended CDP-Choline dosage is 250 – 500 mg per day.

Dopamine

L-Tyrosine taken as a nootropic supplement converts into the neurotransmitter dopamine.

A girl giving a thumbs up because she elevated her mood by boosting DopamineDopamine helps control movement in your body, is fundamental to memory, attention and problem solving.

The unused dopamine can then convert into the catecholamine neurotransmitters norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenaline).

Norepinephrine is important for attentiveness, emotions, sleeping, dreaming, and learning.

Epinephrine drives your ‘flight-or-flight’ response. It’s what prompts your reaction to dangerous circumstances, emergency situations, or in stressful situations or environments.

Sleep deprivation and extreme stressors like heat and cold can deplete catecholamine levels. L-Tyrosine restores them to preserve optimal cognition and reduce anxiety.[vi]

Recommended dosage of L-Tyrosine is 500 mg 2 or 3-times per day.

GABA

GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid) is the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain. And known to counterbalance the action of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate.

GABA has long been recognized as the main regulator of anxiety. And the GABA neurotransmitter system is the main target of benzodiazepines and other anxiety related drugs used to treat anxiety disorders.[vii]

When GABA is taken as a nootropic supplement, and contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, crosses your blood-brain barrier, it binds with the GABAA receptor protein complex, and acts as an agonist: inducing changes in which the permeability of the central pore to chloride ions gets increased.

The resulting chloride flux hyperpolarizes the neuron, leading to a reduction in its excitability. And producing a general inhibitory effect on neuronal activity.[viii]

Recommended dosage of GABA is 250 – 500 mg per day

Glutamate

L-glutamine is a ‘conditionally’ essential amino acid and main precursor for the production of glutamate and GABA in your brain.

(NOTE: Don’t confuse glutamine with glutamate!)

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. And is involved in many of your bodily functions. Including much of the activity in your brain.

A man on a skateboard eliminated his performance anxiety with the help of glutamine.But Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in your brain.[ix] And the balance of glutamine and glutamate is critical for optimal brain function.

Glutamate plays various important positive roles in your brain including brain development, learning and memory.

And degenerative roles including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease, stress response, and anxiety disorders.

Glutamate mainly acts through ion channel receptors including NMDA receptors, AMPA receptors, and G protein-coupled metabotropic receptors (mGluR1-8).

Glutamate is involved in synaptic release of acetylcholine, adenosine, kappa opioid, GABA, and neuropeptides.[x]

Recent research shows that glutamate dysfunction is involved in fear conditioning, OCD, PTSD, anxiety disorder and social phobia.[xi]

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is used as a flavor enhancer has been linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and neuron toxicity that can lead to cell death causing stroke, epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).[xii]

Eliminating your anxiety could be as simple as avoiding all foods containing MSG.

When your neurotransmitters, including L-glutamine and glutamate are in balance, you feel motivated, productive, and energetic. And you feel calm and relaxed during downtime.

When L-glutamine levels are low you feel filled with dread, you’re constantly worried, you have racing thoughts, and you’re frequently late and disorganized.

When you are in this L-glutamine slump is when you’re tempted to resort to high carbohydrate foods, and drugs or alcohol to relax.

Recommended dosage of L-Glutamine is 2 – 5 grams per day.

But remember, glutamine and glutamate must be in balance! If you suspect your glutamate levels are too high, you can get it under control by inhibiting its NMDA and AMPA receptors.

Some antidepressant drugs relieve anxiety by inhibiting NMDA receptors.[xiii]

Try the nootropics including Cat’s Claw[xiv], and L-Theanine[xv]  for inhibiting NMDA receptors. And Noopept[xvi] and many of the racetams[xvii] which inhibit AMPA receptors.

Keeping glutamate under control and helping to reduce anxiety if your condition is caused by glutamate dysfunction.

Serotonin

Serotonin plays a significant role in the development and persistence of anxiety disorders.

vitamins for anxiety and panic attacksSeveral studies show that increases in serotonin increases anxiety. And when serotonin decreases you may experience a reduction in the anxiety that’s associated with OCD or PTSD[xviii].

Too much serotonin and excess serotonin signaling has been implicated in social anxiety disorders.[xix]

If you are experiencing any type of anxiety, you should avoid anything that increases serotonin. Do NOT use nootropics like L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP.

Instead, use nootropics that help modulate serotonin and bring it under control.

Bacopa Monnieri helps modulate serotonin and dopamine which produces an anxiolytic effect. Studies show that Bacopa is as effective as the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam in reducing anxiety.[xx]

Vitamin D3 and Omega-3s (EPA & DHA) helps control serotonin synthesis and action. EPA helps inhibit serotonin release and DHA influences serotonin receptors. While Vitamin D3 deficiency can contribute to anxiety. Supplementing with Omega-3s and Vitamin D3 may help reduce anxiety.[xxi]

Ginkgo Biloba acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) which helps boost dopamine in your brain. Increasing dopamine can help lower serotonin levels. The result can be a reduction in anxiety.[xxii]

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen that has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Rhodiola enhances stress tolerance and relieves anxiety by modulating key brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and beta-endorphins (opioid neuropeptides).[xxiii]

Anxiety Disorders Eliminated

Nootropics are a viable and potent alternative to many anti-anxiety medications.

But you first need to determine the cause of anxiety in your brain. Use the trial and error method I suggested above and work through the nootropic supplements recommended one-by-one.

If you are not experiencing any results from taking a single nootropic, it may be that a combination of nootropics may be required to get the job done, and once the cross the blood brain barrier, have an effect.

Just remember, that the goal of experimenting is to find what works best for you is so you can determine what gets you the best results for reducing stress, improved mental energy, and reduce anxiety symptoms.

But a very strong word of caution – if you are currently using any prescription anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications. Or any medications for that matter. Research each nootropic including side effects and prescription drug interactions before using them.

You can relieve anxiety and bring on stress relief once-and-for-all with nootropics. If you do your research. And are willing to experiment until you find the one or two that is right for you, and mental clarity will come.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] Roy-Byrne P.P., Wagner A. “Primary care perspectives on generalized anxiety disorder” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2004;65 Suppl 13:20-6. (source)

[ii] Kaur S., Singh R. “ROLE OF DIFFERENT NEUROTRANSMITTERS IN ANXIETY: A SYSTEMIC REVIEW” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research Projected Impact Factor (2019): 1.230, CiteScore (2017): 0.27 (source)

[iii] Mineur, Y. S., Obayemi, A., Wigestrand, M. B., Fote, G. M., Calarco, C. A., Li, A. M., & Picciotto, M. R. (2013). “Cholinergic signaling in the hippocampus regulates social stress resilience and anxiety- and depression-like behavior.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(9), 3573–3578. (source)

[iv] Kidd P. M. (2005). “Neurodegeneration from mitochondrial insufficiency: nutrients, stem cells, growth factors, and prospects for brain rebuilding using integrative management.” Alternative Medicine Review: a journal of clinical therapeutic, 10(4), 268–293. (source)

[v] Rao A.M., Hatcher J.F., Dempsey R.J. “CDP-choline: neuroprotection in transient forebrain ischemia of gerbils.” Journal of Neuroscience Research 1999 Dec 1;58(5):697-705. (source)

[vi] Hase A., Jung S.E., a het Rot M. “Behavioral and cognitive effects of tyrosine intake in healthy human adults.” Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. 2015 Jun; 133:1-6. (source)

[vii] Lydiard R. B. (2003). “The role of GABA in anxiety disorders.” The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 64 Suppl 3, 21–27. (source)

[viii] Nutt, D. J., Ballenger, J. C., Sheehan, D., & Wittchen, H. U. (2002). “Generalized anxiety disorder: comorbidity, comparative biology and treatment.” The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology, 5(4), 315–325. (source)

[ix] Meldrum B.S. “Glutamate as a Neurotransmitter in the Brain: Review of Physiology and Pathology” The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 130, Issue 4, April 2000, Pages 1007S–1015S (source)

[x] Roberts-Wolfe, D. J., & Kalivas, P. W. (2015). “Glutamate Transporter GLT-1 as a Therapeutic Target for Substance Use Disorders” CNS & neurological disorders drug targets, 14(6), 745–756. (source)

[xi] Cortese, B. M., & Phan, K. L. (2005). “The role of glutamate in anxiety and related disorders.” CNS spectrums, 10(10), 820–830. (source)

[xii] Marcincakova H., Veronika & Ostatníková, D. (2013). “Monosodium Glutamate Toxic Effects and Their Implications for Human Intake: A Review.” JMED Research. 20135171. 10.5171/2013.608765. (source)

[xiii] Petrie, R. X., Reid, I. C., & Stewart, C. A. (2000). “The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, synaptic plasticity, and depressive disorder. A critical review” Pharmacology & therapeutics 87(1), 11–25. (source)

[xiv] Mohamed A.F., Matsumoto K., Tabata K., Takayama H., Kitajima M., Watanabe H. “Effects of Uncaria tomentosa total alkaloid and its components on experimental amnesia in mice: elucidation using the passive avoidance test.” Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2000 Dec;52(12):1553-61. (source)

[xv] Lu M., Gray, Oliver C. “The Neuropharmacology of L-Theanine(N-Ethyl-L-Glutamine)” Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy Volume 6, Issue 2, 2006 (source)

[xvi] Gudasheva T.A. et. Al. “The major metabolite of dipeptide piracetam analogue GVS-111 in rat brain and its similarity to endogenous neuropeptide cyclo-L-prolylglycine.” European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics. 1997 Jul-Sep;22(3):245-52. (source)

[xvii] Isaacson J.S., Nicoll R. A. “Aniracetam reduces glutamate receptor desensitization and slows the decay of fast excitatory synaptic currents in the hippocampus” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America vol. 88, pp. 10936-10940, December 1991 (source)

[xviii] Murphy, D. L., Moya, P. R., Fox, M. A., Rubenstein, L. M., Wendland, J. R., & Timpano, K. R. (2013). “Anxiety and affective disorder comorbidity related to serotonin and other neurotransmitter systems: obsessive-compulsive disorder as an example of overlapping clinical and genetic heterogeneity” Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences368(1615), 20120435. (source)

[xix] rick, A., Åhs, F., Engman, J., Jonasson, M., Alaie, I., Björkstrand, J., Frans, Ö., Faria, V., Linnman, C., Appel, L., Wahlstedt, K., Lubberink, M., Fredrikson, M., & Furmark, T. (2015). “Serotonin Synthesis and Reuptake in Social Anxiety Disorder: A Positron Emission Tomography Study” JAMA psychiatry72(8), 794–802. (source)

[xx] Bhattacharya, S. K., & Ghosal, S. (1998). “Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera: an experimental study” Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and phytopharmacology5(2), 77–82. (source)

[xxi] Patrick, R. P., & Ames, B. N. (2015). “Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior” FASEB journal: official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology29(6), 2207–2222. (source)

[xxii] Woelk, H., Arnoldt, K. H., Kieser, M., & Hoerr, R. (2007). “Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial” Journal of psychiatric research41(6), 472–480. (source)

[xxiii] Lishmanov Iu.B., Trifonova Zh.V., Tsibin A.N., Maslova L.V., Dement’eva L.A. “[Plasma beta-endorphin and stress hormones in stress and adaptation].” – in Russian Biull Eksp Biol Med. 1987 Apr;103(4):422-4. (source)

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Join The Discussion - 169 comments

Kristen
January 25, 2021

Hi David,

Thank you for all the detailed and helpful information you have provided on Nootropics. I have recently been researching from your website on what nootropics I can take as I want to avoid medication for moderate to severe anxiety, as well as have a restful sleep, repair damage done from effects of anxiety, improved mood, energy and memory and was looking at what I could or needed to take to help me feel better. I can’t afford to spend lots of money at the moment and can’t get the Mind Lab Pro products, but wanted to please ask for your help, if the list below, if there was any nootropic that is not listed that would be necessary for me to take in conjunction with anything I have already listed to keep things in balance, if there is a nootropic which I have listed that may contradict another and I shouldn’t take and any other tips with things I was unsure about. I am aware some nootropics mentioned overlap, in that they have some benefits in common.
Thank you for your time and any help you can give, I appreciate it.

Morning

• I take Iodine drops, with MCT oil in my coffee in the morning.
• N-A-C (I already have this for OCD, depressed mood and will take it consistently from now on) 3 times a day, last no later than 4pm.
• Lithium Orotate (I don’t live in the U.S and don’t have all the options available to me, I am aware of harmful ‘other ingredients’ which cancel out capsule products I have found. I saw KAL Lithium Orotate Drops with other ingredients being: Purified water, glycerin, natural lemon and lime flavors, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate. Does this sound okay David?) It would be 3 times 5mg doses a day.
• Rhodiola Rosea (Same with this nootropic, finding the correct ratio or other ingredients to be harmful I found drops that have the 3:1 ratio, and think it is better than not at all perhaps, Ashwagandha and Bacopa Monnieri I can’t take so thought this was a good option – I would have to work out half of the 150-200 mg in ml or drops somehow)

Midday

• N-A-C

Afternoon

• Zinc (I have zinc and have it just after breakfast or lunch)
• Copper (I know I have to get 2mg to take with the zinc)
• Lithium Orotate- take 5 mg
• N-A-C
• Rhodiola Rosea-take other half of 150-200mg

At some point in the day to take D3 Vitamin 250 mcg and B Vitamins, but don’t know which B vitamins are the most necessary that I should take and the best time to take them.
Take Lithium Orotate again perhaps after dinner but not before bed.

Before Bed

• Magnesium
• L-Theanine (I have the Doctor’s Best L-Theanine 150mg- I was taking Omega 3 not the product though you recommended, I stopped taking it as I learnt about not taking L-Theanine with medication or what would also lower blood pressure and found omega 3 does this and thought with sleep L-Theanine would be more effective to not wake up anxious and to feel rested)

    David Tomen
    January 25, 2021

    Kristen, the KAL lithium sounds OK. I don’t see any “other ingredients” in it that are considered toxic.

    You need ALL of the B-Vitamins. This article explains why: https://nootropicsexpert.com/13-vitamins-essential-for-the-optimized-brain/. But make sure are using the bioactive form of these vitamins and not synthetics. They can be taken earlier in the day but timing is not critical.

    And please see my review on DHA (Omega-3) which explains why you need 1,000 mg DHA per day.

      Kristen
      January 26, 2021

      Hi David,

      I appreciate your help and advice. I have some further concerns and to clarify and would be grateful if you are able to help me with what I have written below.

      I was confused about taking Omega-3 concerning lowering blood pressure thinking I couldn’t take L-Theanine and Omega-3 as well and had to stop taking one. So does this mean taking Omega-3 and L-Theanine everyday won’t contradict one another and is okay?

      The capsules I was taking for Omega-3 contains:

      Concentrated fish Omega-3 triglycerides – 1.5g
      Provides: Omega-3 marine triglycerides – 900mg
      Equiv. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – 540mg
      Equiv. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – 360mg

      I found the below product which is better DHA wise.

      Now Foods, DHA-250, 120 Softgels contain:
      Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)- 500mg
      Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)- 250mg

      Do you think I could take one of the capsules I have already and one of the Now capsules until I run out of the other brand and then just take 2 Now capsules in the morning?

      In adding up all the necessary vitamins after reading your helpful article and post, I worked out it would still end up cheaper to go with four months of the Performance Lab’s NutriGenesis Multi capsules and then buy the Lithium Ororate and Rhodiola Rosea on top, already having L-Theanine. Would I need Omega-3 DHA on the side as well?

      If I was to buy from Performance Lab, I wouldn’t take any of the vitamins it contains in addition to unless it was necessary and safe to do so, but in just considering the Performance Lab multi-vitamins, do you think I will overdose on certain vitamins alongside the diet I’m on; my family eat carnivore/keto diet, mostly meat, eggs, cream, healthy fats, a low carb diet with few vegetables and can’t really change my diet that much?
      Maybe this diet isn’t a problem with the Performance Lab NutriGenesis multivitamins. Do you have any advice concerning what to do regarding the intake of the 13 necessary vitamins being on this type of diet, I don’t know what to do and am concerned I will take too much of something on top of what I would get from the food I would eat. I guess with most diets, one may only need some specific vitamins.

      I’m no expert, just concerned and unsure. I want to do the right thing and appreciate your help with this. Thank you for all your time.

        David Tomen
        January 26, 2021

        Kristen, we use multivitamins because we cannot get all the vitamins and minerals our body and brain need from food. It’s not possible no matter how good your diet. Because it simply is not there.

        Consider that 50 years ago there was no dietary supplement industry. Because we could get all the nutrients we needed from food. But the dietary supplement business is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Why?

        Please see this article: https://nootropicsexpert.com/how-to-select-the-best-multivitamin-for-brain-function/. And scroll down to the section called “The Problem with our Food Supply”.

        I’ve written a couple of other articles on this subject but that should help you. One thing I am sure of is you will not “overdose” on any vitamin or mineral by using the Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi. You’ll just feel better.

        I’ve done considerable research over the years on how much DHA we need for a healthy brain. And my recommendation of 1,000 mg DHA per day is conservative when compared to some of the most recent research in this area. The thing is the only way to get adequate DHA and some EPA is eating wild caught salmon 3 – 4 times per week. Or use a supplement. And salmon get their Omega-3s from algae. So you could theoretically get it from algae if it was part of your diet.

        But if you’re anything like me you hate to waste stuff. Use up both bottles of Omega-3s so nothing gets wasted. 🙂

        BTW, L-Theanine and Omega-3s are not contraindicated. The only caution on Omega-3s and/or DHA is if you are on blood thinning meds, have unnaturally low blood pressure, are diabetic, or are using cyclosporine which is used to stop rejection after an organ transplant.

        Kristen
        January 27, 2021

        Hi David,

        Thank you for your helpful explanations and pointing me in the right direction.

        I appreciate you letting me know whether I could use up the Omega-3 capsules I already have. I didn’t explain this very well, I apologise for that. I mentioned how I currently have some of one brand, trying to find the best option I could and not out of my reach that has more DHA than EPA I found the NOW brand did this with one of their products. I hadn’t bought them yet. I read yesterday how you said no matter what Omega-3 supplement you get to get 1,000mg of DHA, and the lowest amounts of EPA, so this information was helpful. Though the ratio could still be better, at least I can follow what you said and do the best I can and get the NOW product if that’s what I can get.

        I remembered one of my family members via doctor/s on youtube had mentioned to me last year to not take calcium supplements. Reminded about this and concerned I looked up for myself today and came across information from a doctor about calcium carbonate explaining that it is found in many multivitamins and the most common calcium recommended by doctors, and said how there was research done which shows that calcium carbonate causes heart attacks. They recommended getting calcium from certain food like almonds, etc. In summary that calcium supplements in the form of calcium carbonate isn’t safe. Another doctor mentioned about if you are taking calcium supplements to stop because of the medical risks associated with this, explaining further in their video. I know these are doctors with good reputations saying this and making people aware of this. Do you know if the calcium in Performance Lab’s NutriGenesis Multi contains calcium carbonate? I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Is this where K2 and Lactobacillus acidophilus comes in regarding calcification?

        I learnt about the connection with excess Vitamin D and stress, is there another vitamin which counters this or perhaps otherwise omega-6?

        I am grateful for your help, thank you for your patience.

        David Tomen
        January 27, 2021

        Kristen, Performance Lab grows the Calcium in their Multi in Lactobacillus bulgaricus (yogurt culture probiotic) bacteria. Because the result is the same type of calcium you would get from foods like Almonds. So it is perfectly safe especially at the amount they put in that Multi.

        It is possible to experience Vitamin D toxicity. But that would mean using very high doses of Vitamin D for extended periods. It’s not possible the overdose Vitamin D with the amount used in a Multi. Here is a list of the Side Effects associated with Vitamin D: https://nootropicsexpert.com/vitamin-d/#side-effects

        Not sure what you are referring to but Performance Lab grows their Vitamin K1 + K2 in Medicago sativa (alfalfa plant). Again the same type of Vitamin you’d get from food.

        Kristen
        January 28, 2021

        Hi David,

        Thank you for sharing that information and for clarifying things, I found it helpful.

Amy
January 9, 2021

Hello
Thank you for your valuable information. I have been on and off prozac for 25 years, starting with post natal depression from a traumatic delivery. Prozac stops working after a year or 2, and I wonder if I am over producing serotonin as I experience more anxiety attacks as the years go by. My main symptoms now, over last 15 years are stress/anxiety. I would like to stop taking 20mg prozac and try: ashwaganda, Rhodiola, vitamin b.
I tried 5htp about 4 years ago and it stopped working after a month, exactly as you describe. So I guess my problem is too much serotonin causing issues with prozac?

2 years ago I had great success with Rhodiola, but I was still taking prozac at the same time. I am now more aware of issues after reading your information – thank you.

I would like to get off prozac which I think, now increases my anxiety and heal my brain etc. with adaptogens. Any suggestions from you would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you
Amy

    David Tomen
    January 9, 2021

    Amy, you likely grow tolerant to Prozac after a while because it desentized synapses. Not because you have too much serotonin.

    Rhodiola Rosea acts as a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) which boosts dopamine AND serotonin to some degree. Rhodiola also boosts neurogenesis which helps repair synapses.

    Here is a list of adaptogens which help reduce anxiety and stress: https://nootropicsexpert.com/top-7-nootropic-adaptogens-to-conquer-anxiety-and-stress/

    And Lion’s Mane Mushroom increases Nerve Growth Factor which will help repair your brain.

Dan
November 11, 2020

Hi David,
its Dan again =).

I decided now to use Tyrosine and Gaba to fix low dopamine and low gaba/high glutamate.

There is one question which bothers me, may you can help me ?
Which of the following condition could cause high glutamate/low gaba:
-low serotonin
-high serotonin
-low dopamine
-high dopamine

I came across with a few sites that claim low Serotonin can cause overstimulation trough glutamate.
Maybe im just deficient in dopamine, serotonin and gaba. I have read about studies wich claimed that people with social anxiety are often low in Dopamine and Serotonin.

Aswell another question, are there some safe Nootropics to decrease glutamate level long term ?

    David Tomen
    November 13, 2020

    Dan, it’s not a simple as that. Because you just need to look at L-Glutamate for example. I quote, “Glutamine is naturally synthesized from glutamate and ammonia in brain cells called astrocytes in a reaction catalyzed by glutamine synthetase (GS).

    Newly synthesized glutamine is transferred to neurons and hydrolyzed by phosphate-activated glutaminase (PAG) to then produce glutamate. A portion of which may be decarboxylated to GABA or transaminated to Aspartate.”

    If you are low in the enzyme glutamine synthetase or the enzyme phosphate-activated glutaminase you’ll have problems. Or low serotonin. Or high dopamine. Or any combo of this.

    It’s true that low serotonin can really cause problems. Most of that happens in your gut because 95% of serotonin is released by EC cells in your gut. Those cells are activated by 20 different bacteria. If your microbiome is out of whack you’ll have problems.

    BTW, I just came across a study that showed high serotonin is the cause of social anxiety. But I didn’t save the link.

    The only thing you can do is experiment with each of the precursors for these neurotransmitters while fixing your microbiome. Until you find something that works.

    The safest way to keep glutamate in check is probably Resveratrol and thiamine.

      Dan
      November 14, 2020

      Thanks for your answer.
      May i need to agree that there is no easy way through science to get to my goal. I tought it would help to know if low dopamine/low serotonin can cause low gaba. But it seems to be a lot more complex like you said.

      According a lot of user claims Gaba(benzos) seem to help them most with social anxiety to get relief from symptoms, but often not long term. So i personally think low Gaba in social anxiety is very often a side problem to a main problem like low serotonin/dopamine, thats why i asked.

      I couldnt finish my prolonged test with Tryptophan because of lockdown (corona), so it end up again with only 2 days of Tryptophan, but i think i will keep using dopamine(Tyrosine) and gaba(cycling and using lemon balm, valerian, gaba) suppliments for now.

      I never read about Resveratrol on any site.
      https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10571-007-9152-2
      according this link, it might be coinflip and decrease or increase glutamate depending on the dose.
      I think it would help me to decrease glutamate at the same time while trying to work on gaba level.
      What do you think about those nootropics to keep glutamate low (according a few websites):
      -Taurine
      -Coenzyme Q10
      -PQQ
      -Theanine (i dont like)
      -Magnesium (already using)
      -B6 (already using + Thiamine as multivitamine)

      Or they might not safe for long term use and i still should try Resveratrol ?

        David Tomen
        November 16, 2020

        Dan, according to a couple of studies I came across, they showed Resveratrol inhibiting glutamate while increase extracellular GABA (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20026214/).

        I haven’t the time to go through each supplement you mentioned and hunt for studies specifically on their effect on glutamate. Other than what I’ve already included in my research on each supplement. So please check those as well.

        I also encourage you to look closely at (according to a few websites) and make sure that whatever you are using as an authority on this subject that they have links to peer-reviewed clinical studies supporting their claims.

Dan
October 21, 2020

Hi David,
here Dan again i lately posted on September 23, 2020.
You adviced me in case of Gaba deficiency/panic attacks CBD Oil, Ginseng, Lemon Balm, L-Theanine, and Valerian.
And im using Lemon Balm now for about ~10 days 3 times a day 450mg = 1350mg daylie.
I came incross with this discussion https://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/54028-treating-anxiety-safely-effectively/page-1
People claim that long term use of GABA RECEPTOR AGONIST’s downregulate GABA wich means instead of increasing GABA it decreases GABA long term.
What do you think about that ?
I have choosen Lemon Balm because it looked like it works similar as SSRI’s just for GABA.
Because SSRI’s inhibit uptake of serotonin -> serotonin increases.
Lemon Balm Gaba Transminase inhibit breakdown of GABA -> Gaba increases
The guy posted on that site claims that lemon balm on prolonged use aswell downregulates gaba and it should only used for short term usage or Cycling on/off.
What do you think about that ?

Can i still take it or should i stop my plan to use 1-2 month Lemon Balm ? At the moment i dont feel a lot of difference beside fatique and may problems getting asleep (may not related to lemon balm i dont know). I dont search for short term solutions but long term.

    David Tomen
    October 21, 2020

    Dan, this has not been my experience using Lemon Balm. But if you are not experiencing any benefit from using Lemon Balm or your experience is negative then I’d stop using it.

      Dan
      October 23, 2020

      Hi David,
      but is it true CBD Oil, Ginseng, Lemon Balm, and Valerian downregulate Gaba on long term use ?

      Would it be better using Gaba as suppliment ?
      But aswell Gaba works on a gaba receptor i have read.

      Maybe i should restart trial and error and do each suppliment for a week and hidden. Im still not sure gaba is the correct one.
      It felt a bit better but after 2 weeks of lemon balm it feels like it gets worse again. I dont know.

      I couldnt find any guide how to trial and error. If i take 1 suppliment and i experience no changes, does that mean it is the correct one ?

        David Tomen
        October 26, 2020

        Dan, if you use a supplement and experience no immediate changes then it likely means it is the correct one for you. IF you have done the research and know why you’re taking it.

        The effects of lot of these nootropic supplements can be very subtle. You get better the more you use them in learning to “listen to your body”.

        And many of them provide better results over time of consistent daily use. Again, it depends on their mechanism of action in your brain.

        None of the supplements that you mentioned will “down-regulate” receptors or neurotransmitters if you are using the recommended dose. Most of the time you are just giving your body and brain what it needs. Nutrients that you are not getting enough of from food. This is why they are called “supplements”.

        GABA the neurotransmitter must connect to a GABA receptor for it to have any effect in your brain. But the herbs and adaptogens do not directly increase something like GABA. They affect its levels to make it more available in your brain. Or affect its receptors and their sensitivity.

        If you use extra high doses of anything it’s not good. Because only then can you do things like desensitize receptors or synapses. This is why it is often good to use 2 or 3 supplements that do similar things so you can keep dosages of each one on the lower end.

Valerie
September 24, 2020

Hello. I am following the trial and error method to find the cause of my anxiety. GABA is third on the list. But, from what I have read elsewhere, GABA does not cross the BBB. Can anyone explain this apparent inconsistency. David writes that GABA binds with the GABAa receptor protein complex inducing changes in which the permeability of the central pore to chloride ions get increased. Is it this increase in chloride ions central pore that helps with anxiety not an increase in brain GABA. Thank you for any help.

    David Tomen
    September 25, 2020

    Valerie, re. GABA it’s likely either or both.

    But what you’ve read about GABA not crossing the BBB is old science. It’s simply too simplistic to be true. Each neurotransmitter has an associated transporter that helps it across.

    In GABA’s case it’s either a transporter. Or it’s digested in your gut and taken to your brain some other way. Probably the vagus nerve. One way or the other it does get there.

Dan
September 23, 2020

Hi David,
thanks for your great website.

I have anxiety + social anxiety for a few years, with a bunch of symptoms. Some of the most annoying are panic attacks.
I did bought almost all precursor, not Glutamine.
L-Tryptophan, L-Tyrosine, Gaba, Alpha-GPC and took each for a few days/weeks.

But it is so hard to tell if i feel better or worse. Because of peak days and peak weeks and as i understood correctly deficiencys get better after prolonged use like 1-2 months and more.

How do i understand if its the correct precursor if i need to take them for a long time to see changes, aswell i think in short usage like 1 week, if for example panic attacks/anxiety are slightly better its hard to tell if it gets worse or better because it depends on the situation aswell and sleep etc…
Sometimes you get Tryptophan/Tyrosine.. from food.. wich falsify the result or dosage is to low/high…

I take a very good Multivitamin with active forms + high amount of b6, b12.

How i can have success with trial and error please ?

    David Tomen
    September 23, 2020

    Dan, great question and you’ve already hinted at the answer yourself with a caveat.

    If you try a precursor for a couple of days with no negative reaction. But a slight positive improvement. You’re likely onto something. Effects with nootropics are often subtle. Which means we really need to learn to ‘listen to your body’ and what it’s telling us.

    If one or two precursors resulted in a slight improvement in panic attacks and anxiety. I suggest pursuing that neurotransmitter pathway. And all the ways you can affect it.

    For example, if it was a bit of success with GABA then do a search of Nootropics Expert for all the supplements that somehow work on GABA. In this case it would include CBD Oil, Ginseng, Lemon Balm, L-Theanine, and Valerian. I’d read the review of each one closely to see how it works. And then pick a couple to try.

    This method applies to each major neurotransmitter. And it’s true that some of these amino acids are common in the food we eat. Which could throw things off a little. But I wouldn’t be too concerned with the food thing while you’re on this mission.

    It’s also true that true deficiciences take awhile to correct. But the amino acids in particular work quickly. Fast enough to know which one looks more promising than another.

      Dan
      September 24, 2020

      Thanks for your answer.
      I need to retry all of them and store daylie results in an app.
      It happens for me that for example one day it works good with Tyrosine, the next day is worse, the next day is good again… like ping pong and that happens for all precursors.
      It feels like throwing a coin.

      Is there maybe a way to backtrace wich Neurotransmitter could be deficient ?
      For example if i never ate vegetables / fruits and dairy (because i have intolerance, not lactose), pollen allergy, a lot of stress, less sleep because of racing mind (i have really dark eye bags) and less exercise, lot of gaming.
      I ate a lot of pasta, bread, rice, overall grain, meat, a bit more less fish, eggs, poultry and a daylie fat sugar. (now im working hard on my diet aswell)

      It would already help if i can exclude some neurotransmitter.

      Glutamate i already excluded myself because as i understood correctly panic attacks are likely some kind of overstimulation exactly what high glutamate would do or propably i get false results because B6 conversion to GABA if i take glutamine.

      Should Tyrosine increase panic attacks/anxiety if it get converted to norepinephrine and epinephrine ?

      On Monday i have the strongest symptoms normally.
      So how i could start with the precursor. Taking Tyrosine for 2 days 2 times a day starting on Tuesday. Should i start instantly after those 2 days then with Tryptophan ? Does Tyrosine does not has after effects then ?
      How i continue weekend is free of symptoms starting again on Tuesday ?
      Or should i go for full week one precursor…
      Or should i go crazy taking all day a different precursor and track results for a few weeks and check later on wich precursor performed best.
      Do i need to put them into bags and take them hidden to prevent placebo ?

        David Tomen
        September 25, 2020

        Dan, looking at your diet and I’d try eliminating pasta, bread and rice. I think you’d be amazed at the difference. I cut out everything white and/or refined. And most sugar. I get physically sick now if I have a bowl of pasta.

        If you’re not eating fruit or vegetables I highly suggest using a Multi like the Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi. Again, I think you’ll be amazed at how it makes you feel. But the Multi you choose makes a huge difference in my experience. And why I mentioned that one specifically.

        L-Tyrosine turns into dopamine and then into norepinephrine. Try doing 500 mg L-Tyrosine once a day first thing. Do that for two days and see what happens. If there are no negative effects then continue that for another 2 – 3 days. And see if that makes a difference. It could be that your dose was too much in one day. L-Tyrosine is known for helping especially for stressful situations including gaming.

        You’d need a much higher dose of L-Tyrosine to upset your dopamine/serotonin balance. And higher doses of L-Tyrosine can cause panic attacks and/or anxiety. But the dosage amount depends on the person.

        If that plan backfires then try boosting acetylcholine with CDP-Choline or Alpha GPC following the same plan. And see what happens.

        Last thing I’d try with this is L-Tryptophan. I leave it last because you don’t want to do it during the day.

        But the diet thing really stands out to me. And I think could be the key or at the root of what you’re trying to do. With the rest built on that.

        Dan
        October 10, 2020

        Ok now i finished my 2 wave of trying precursors beside glutamine.
        I took them for 2 days in this order:
        L-Tyrosine 29.09-30.09, L-Tryptophan 01.10-02.10, Gaba 06.10-07.10, Alpha GPC 08.10-09.10

        The first day i took very comfortable, the second day i always went to a new takeaway getting food for triggering my symptoms.

        I took each daylie activity and valued how it felt different. + means symptoms are better, – means symptoms are worse, * no changes. “anx” means anxiety.

        Tyrosine: – anx daylie walk, + anx driving car(scary), + racing toughts, + anx gaming, -intelligence may(bad decision making/concentration-focus), * panic atks., * anx talking people, +eye contact, + enjoy continue book?, * get asleep, -tremors while panic, – length of panic atks

        Tryptophan: *anx daylie walk, * anx driving car, – racing toughts, – anx gaming, -intelligence, *panic atks , +anx talking people, -eye contact, + enjoy continue book, -get asleep (less tired at night) , – fatique (tired over day), + tremors while panic(slightly), * length of panic atks

        Gaba: *anx daylie walk, + anx car, * racing toughts, + anx gaming, +intelligence, +panic atks , *anx talking people, *eye contact, – enjoy continue book, *get asleep, – fatique (tired over day), + tremors while panic(slightly), + length of panic atks

        Alpha GPC: *anx daylie walk,* anx car, – racing toughts, + anx gaming, *intelligence, *panic atks , *anx talking people, *eye contact, – enjoy continue book, -get asleep, * fatique (tired over day), + tremors while panic(slightly), + length of panic atks

        The only problem is, my panic attacks trough the takeaway decreased because of habit… Like that the precursors i took at the beginning has higher and more symptoms while alpha gpc there were almost no symptoms anymore…
        Aswell all changes feel so little it could have been random.
        So at the end i have again no clue wich of those worked for me…

        But i will take now Lemon Balm for a month, i cant find success with trial and error. We will see if it helps or worsen.

        David Tomen
        October 11, 2020

        Dan, first, congratulations on your dedication and determination to figure out what is wrong. I’m having some difficulty understanding what you are saying about each supplement above. But I think what you are saying is that your anxiety may not be caused by neurotransmitter levels that are out of whack. Any of them. If this is true it’s important. Because you can rule it out.

        Anxiety can also be caused by a variety of other things including inflammation, low BDNF or Nerve Growth Factor, faults with a receptor system like NMDA receptors or AMPA receptors. etc.

        Take a look at the other adaptogens proven to be helpful with anxiety after you’ve tried Lemon Balm: https://nootropicsexpert.com/top-7-nootropic-adaptogens-to-conquer-anxiety-and-stress/.

        Consider boosting BDNF: https://nootropicsexpert.com/13-nootropics-to-boost-bdnf/

        Do a search of Nootropics Expert for the keyword “inflammation” and see which are the best candidates for taming inflammation.

        I wish there was an easier solution for you. But I’ll do what I can if anything to help. And thank you for reporting your progress so far.

Paolo
August 31, 2020

Hi David,
you have written Serotonin may increase anxiety.
What do you exactly mean by Bacopa Monnieri and Rhodiola Rosea modulate Serotonin ? Do they work like a Beta Blocker and stop uptake of Serotonin or do they even lower Serotonin ?
Do modulate mean they can rise level of Serotonin when we are low and increase level if we are high in Serotonin ?

I had a big Vitamin D3 deficiency and rare omega3 for many years, may that lead to anxiety because my system wasnt able to inhibit Serotonin correctly.
Thanks.

    David Tomen
    August 31, 2020

    Paolo, Rhodiola Rosea acts like a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) which can increase serotonin availability in your brain. Bacopa “seems” to affect serotonin levels but I’m not sure of the mechanism of action on how it does this. So both are going to have some effect on serotonin levels.

    Neither nootropic supplement is a direct precursor to the synthesis of serotonin. So we’re talking about how the existing serotonin in your brain is used.

Adam
August 27, 2020

Hey David,

You put me between a rock and a hard place.

I have been dealing with some significant anxiety and some fear of panic and that has lead to some insomnia. I have been working hard at figuring out what to take to manage the anxiety and to manage the insomnia.

So far, L Theanine has been the best at managing anxiety but far from perfect.

Sleep, Gabba, Magnesium Threonate, Phosphatidylserine, and L Theanine have helped me to fall asleep but not stay, often waking up around 4 PM.

I recently introduced Tryptophan into the mix and that has improved my sleep. But I now read it can boost anxiety. I have had mixed responses to it the day after, sometimes feeling good, almost happy/normal in some ways, but also some underlying anxiety.

Is there something other than Tryptophan to consider? I have tried Melatonin but that gave me a night terror, I have tried Valerian Root too at the get go, but limited success with that.

And what can I look to that can make me good happy/good like the Tryptophan did but without risk of worsening my anxiety?

Thanks.

    David Tomen
    August 29, 2020

    Adam, it’s higher doses of L-Tryptophan that can cause anxiety in some people. Try to keep your dose around 500 mg and you should be OK.

    Melatonin is not a good choice for a number of reasons. But L-Tryptophan contributes to the synthesis of melatonin. You can also try Tart Cherry Juice from concentrate as a natural source of melatonin which produces minimal side effects. If any.

    Try Lemon Balm and CBD Oil next. Before you try Valerian. Because chances are Valerian will result in side effects if you sometime have a negative reaction to higher doses of L-Tryptophan.

      Adam
      August 29, 2020

      Good to know, thank you.

      The Gaba has helped with falling asleep, but I still am waking up throughout the night. The trypophan definitely helped with sleeping more soundly throughout the night, so happy not to have to remove that altogether.

      I have tried Lemon Balm extract and not sure I got much of an effect from it. Possibly inadequate dosage though. I did just grab some Lemon Balm tea earlier today though, so continuing to work with it. I have tried CBD once but got a little anxious a little while after taking it, which might not have had anything to do with it but has me hesitant to return to.

      Anyways, thanks for the feedback!

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