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Stress Busters: Relaxing Naturally

How it works: Enhances the activity of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter.

Positive effects: Reduces anxiety, irritability, insomnia, migraine, alcoholism, obsessions, and depression.

Cautions: None reported.

Dosage: 250-500 mg twice daily, between meals.

Action Plan For Natural Relaxation
There would be no point in taking any of these herbs or amino acids if you continue to eat a junk-food diet that is high in caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. You must, of course, begin with a solid base.

B vitamins are required for the smooth running of the nervous system and the production of adrenal or stress hormones. And certain minerals have a relaxing effect on the body and emotions. However, during stress, B vitamins and the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium all are depleted, leading to further anxiety. So make sure that you are taking enough of the following, especially under stressful conditions: vitamins B1, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or flaxseed oil.

In other words, balance your body and provide it with the fuel it needs so that any new mood-enhancing additions will be able to do their jobs.

Getting and staying relaxed may involve making some changes. See Part Three for ways to alter your lifestyle. Changing your chemistry is just as vital, and here's how you can do it.

Balance Your Blood Sugar: An Even Keel
There are three golden rules for keeping your blood-sugar levels even:

  1. Avoid, or at least considerably reduce, all sugar and stimulants
  2. Eat regularly and eat low-GI foods to keep your blood-sugar levels even.
  3. Take supplements of the "energy nutrients," primarily B vitamins and vitamin C, which help to turn your food efficiently into energy.
If you are very stressed, or suspect you have a blood-sugar problem, you will also benefit by adding a morning dose of 200 mcg of chromium, a mineral that helps insulin to keep your blood-sugar levels stable.

Mobilize GABA: The Big Chill Out
The following herbs and amino acids help to calm the stress response and act as natural relaxants. The ideal daily doses of all of them are less when combined than when the substance is taken alone. These are all suggested ranges, since responses will vary based on your unique chemistry. Test your dose carefully, and increase as needed. Then, add in one new item at a time, and observe your response.

Since herbs are extracts, the dose will vary based on the percent of the marker in the standardized extract. The kava dosage given here relates to the actual amount of kavalactones in the product, be it powder, capsules, or tincture.

So, to sum up, you should take the following to chill out:

  • A good all-around multivitamin supplying optimal amounts of B vitamins, vitamin C, with an optional 200 mcg of chromium.
  • A "chill-out" formula providing kava, valerian, hops, passionflower, GABA, and taurine, as needed.
  • For a good night's sleep, take 150-300 mg of valerian and 120-150 mg of kava about 45 minutes before bedtime, plus 200 mg of 5-HTP. We recommend starting one new product at a time, observing your response, then adding in a new one as needed.
Natural Relaxants Daily Dose
Kava 60-250 mg (60-75 mg, two to three times daily; 120-150 mg, generally 1-2 capsules, at bedtime)
Valerian 50-300 mg (50-100 mg twice daily; 150-300 mg at bedtime)
Hops 100-200 mg, 2-3 times daily
Passionflower 100-200 mg, 2-3 times daily
GABA 100-500 mg, one to three times daily, between meals
Taurine 100-500 mg, one to three times daily, between meals


From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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