The Skinny on Natural Stress-Busting Supplements

December 5, 2012 | Updated: 1:29 p.m., December 6, 2012

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Holiday hustle and bustle can cause stress and anxiety in even the most laid-back people, even before you factor in the added pressures of travel, family, & finances.

Molly’s here to cover the stress-busting basics when it comes to food and exercise, but if that’s still just not quite enough, there are a few nutritional supplements that have been shown to help relieve anxiety and improve mood.

Stress-Busting Fundamentals:

  • Try to let go of the idea of the perfect holiday season, reevaluating the “must-do” list. We can often consolidate, delegate or even eliminate many “essential” items.
  • Stick with your usual eating patterns, incorporating a small meal or snack every few hours to prevent sharp fluctuations in blood sugar and energy
  • Limit added sugars and excessive caffeine
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Stay on track with your usual exercise schedule as much as possible.

4 Natural Stress-Busting Supplements:

Check with your physician before beginning any supplement regime to find out about potential negative interactions with medications, particularly sleep aids, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, & blood pressure medications.  Add just one product at a time, starting with the smallest recommended dose.

Theanine. 200 mg of the amino acid theanine may help to reduce anxiety.


Passionflower. A daily dose of 90 mg (or 45 drops of passionflower liquid extract) may help to reduce symptoms of anxiety, possibly as much as a medication.



S-adenosylmethionine or SAMe.  400-1,600 mg daily can significantly improve symptoms of depression, with several studies finding that it appears to be as effective as prescription antidepressants.

For people who don’t respond to conventional antidepressants, adding 400-800 mg of SAMe twice daily (in addition to conventional medications, and only recommended under physician guidance) has also been shown to have a beneficial effect.   Added bonus: SAMe can also reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.


St. John’s wort.  300 mg three times daily (up to 1,200 mg daily) can help improve mood and decrease anxiety, and improve symptoms of depression.

Use caution, though: St. John’s wort has a long list of medication interactions, including antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs, statins, blood thinners and oral contraceptives.