The 11 Best Natural Xanax Alternatives in 2018
Anxiety has become a prevalent problem in the U.S. in recent years with over 40 million people afflicted.
Anxiety disorders cost the United States over $42 billion a year, nearly one-third of the country’s entire mental health bill.
Consequently, millions of prescriptions are doled out for anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) meds like Ativan and Xanax.
They are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs on the market and most of them are benzodiazepines.
The precise method of action by which “benzos” work is only somewhat understood, but they are thought to hike up levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the calming neurotransmitter in our brains.
Others believe that benzodiazepines increase GABA receptor sensitivity.
There is no shortage of benzo drugs including Dalmane, Librium, Klonopin, Restoril, Valium, and Serax. These drugs are effective at combating anxiety or alleviating panic attacks.
They go to work fast with users experiencing relief within 30 to 60 minutes of taking them and their effects can last for anywhere from 11 to 20 hours.
But there are many reasons one should avoid taking these prescription medications. For one, they have a profound potential for abuse or addiction.
Someone addicted to Xanax may take as many as 20 or 30 pills per day! The tolerance that addicts develop to these substances leads to dangerous habits with many attempting to inject their Xanax dose intravenously.
Fatal overdoses from drugs like Xanax is also not uncommon. Statistics say that the overdose death rate for benzodiazepines has increased more than four times between 1996 and 2013.
The Ugly Truth About Anti-Anxiety Drugs
Drugs like Xanax and Ativan possess a ridiculously long list of adverse side effects. Their most common effects include feelings of dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, unsteadiness, and confusion.
Acute side effects may include depression, headaches, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, sleep issues and aggressive behavior.
The scariest thing of all is the damage Xanax can cause after long-term use. One study suggests that users who take Xanax daily for years can end up developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Another important thing for people to realize about these drugs is that they usually stop working after four to six months which is why tolerance leads to addiction.
Users must take more and more pills to feel like they are receiving the perceived benefits of the drug.
For some, addiction does not develop for several months, but due to the nature of their effects, it is possible for people with naturally addictive personalities to develop an addiction in as little as a couple of weeks.
Once you’re hooked on these drugs, it’s no small feat to kick the habit.
On the contrary, drugs like Xanax have found themselves on a list of the top ten toughest drugs to quit, sharing space with such illicit substances as heroin.
Some brave souls will try to go “cold turkey,” kicking the habit without medical assistance. This is extremely dangerous as withdrawal symptoms can include panic attacks, trembling, sleep disturbance, heart palpitations, muscle pain and more.
Acute withdrawal side effects can even include hallucinations, seizures, and psychosis.
Some have said that there are certain people who should never take drugs like Xanax or Ativan. The truth is, no people should have to take these drugs. And now, perhaps, they won’t have to.
11 Natural Alternatives to Xanax (available Over-the-Counter)
What Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know is that there is a wealth of natural compounds that are every bit as effective at relieving anxiety and depression as prescription anxiolytics.
Native societies have been using these natural remedies for hundreds of years all over the world.
Below you will find a comprehensive list of our favorite Xanax alternatives. These nootropics can be used to replace any anti-anxiety medication including Ativan.
The vast majority of these alternatives have been proven to not only have terrific efficacy but also a scarcity of major side effects.
|NOOTROPIC||BEST FOR||RATING||WHERE TO BUY|
|Inositol||Obsessive Compulsive Disorder||5 / 5||Get it here.|
|Arctic Root||Seasonal Affective Disorder||4 / 5||Get it here.|
|Ashwagandha||Anxiety and Depression||4.5 / 5||Get it here.|
|Magnesium||Anxiety and Panic Attacks||4.5 / 5||Get it here.|
|Gotu Kola||Mental Fatigue, Memory Loss and Insomnia||5 / 5||Get it here.|
|Kava||Anxiety Disorder||4.5 / 5||Get it here.|
|L-Theanine||Mental and Sleep Aid||4.5 / 5||Get it here.|
|Phenibut||Anxiety||4.5 / 5||Get it here.|
|Noopept||Anxiety||4.5 / 5||Get it here.|
|Aniracetam||Anxiety||4.5 / 5||Get it here.|
|Picamilon||ADHD and Depression||4.5 / 5||not available|
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Formerly known as vitamin B8, Inositol is a powerful nootropic that is naturally found in the brain. Our neurotransmitters are dependent upon inositol for transmitting messages between brain cells.
It is a wildly effective anxiolytic.
Studies have shown that it works just as well as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. Studies have also found that it is a viable treatment for those suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
Research suggests that women can benefit from Inositol use in a variety of areas ranging from mood swings and depression to PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)-related anxiety and the acute symptoms of PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder).
You can get IP-6 Inositol for as low as $18.99 (Absorb Your Health, 100 capsules, 500mg)
2. Arctic Root
As you may have gathered from its name, Arctic root (Rhodiola Rosea) is generally grown in cold regions of the world. It has been used in Chinese medicine for ages to relieve fatigue and boost physical stamina.
Arctic root is a valuable remedy for anxiety because it naturally increases activity of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, the “feel good” chemicals in our brains.
Arctic root has also been used to treat depression. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, it can not only make you feel better mentally but it can also improve your attention span and reverse memory loss.
You can buy Rhodiola Rosea Extract here.
One of the most well-renowned Ayurvedic herbs used for healing, Ashwagandha naturally reduces anxiety and depression.
The best part is, Ashwagandha doesn’t cause the kind of drowsiness that is associated with drugs like Xanax and Klonopin.
Ashwagandha simply works, and is one of the supplements I regularly take to manage social anxiety.
You can get Ashwagandha 10:1 Extract from here.
Magnesium is a potent essential mineral is very important to an essential diet. Unfortunately, the average American diet supplies less than two-thirds of the magnesium our bodies require.
As a result, we can be more prone to developing anxiety and panic attacks. According to Dr. Axe, anxiety is exacerbated as magnesium deficiency worsens.
Magnesium citrate is said to be the best form of magnesium to this end as it is the most absorbed form of magnesium with higher bioavailability than other magnesium sources.
You can get Magnesium Citrate from your local drug store, or online (here is a good option from Amazon).
5. Gotu Kola
No, it is not the go-to generic drink alternative to Coke or Pepsi. This relaxing herb is often found in traditional Asian cuisine. It has been used as a meditation aid because of its ability to restore balance to the hemispheres of your brain.
A 5,000-year old Ancient medicine, Gotu Kola is also a viable treatment for mental fatigue, memory loss, and insomnia. But one its most praised benefits is its ability to vanquish depression and anxiety.
Researchers at the Royal Ottawa Hospital in Ontario have found that Gotu Kola can cause a substantial response of calm when administered to test subjects.
You can get high-quality vegetarian caps from Amazon here.
Kava is one of the top natural anxiety remedies on the market. It has been shown to be every bit as effective as prescription meds like Opipramol and Buspirone.
By increasing GABA levels, Kava alleviates the symptoms of panic attacks and calms the nerves of those affected with generalized anxiety disorder.
If you’d like to give Kava a try, you can get it online on Amazon.
L-Theanine is an amino acid analog that has a strong reputation as a sleep aid and mood stabilizer.
Due to its access to the CNS (Central Nervous System), L-Theanine is able to affect your mental state. It is also believed to affect the speed at which we think, making it a venerable cognitive enhancer.
L-Theanine also stimulates our brain’s alpha waves which means that users will get a better night’s sleep. What’s more, it increases dopamine levels, leading to less stress and anxiety.
This one from Amazon is the best value for money.
Phenibut is an unscheduled, unregulated drug that has been embraced by the nootropic community in part because of its potential to relieve anxiety.
While no concrete studies have been conducted to determine its efficacy in this area, user experiences speak for themselves.
Phenibut, also known as beta-phenyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a natural derivative of GABA that swiftly crosses the blood-brain barrier, improving neurological functions.
A user on Bluelight’s forums had this to say about their Phenibut experience:
“I walked into social situations with not a hint of anxiety. In fact, I loved socializing. I loved talking to people, and I became quite a ‘figure’ in my group.”
Users who decide to try taking Phenibut, however, should stick to recommended doses as misuse can be dangerous.
Serious side effects from misuse can include unconsciousness, memory loss, and withdrawal symptoms.
Noopept is a synthetic peptide that is extremely potent. It is a neuroprotective agent that possesses significant anxiolytic properties. Many have used it for this purpose.
However, users should be aware that, much like Phenibut, misuse of Noopept can result in the opposite effect. It is believed that some may have a sensitivity to such substances, a sensitivity that results in relaxation-induced anxiety.
Some users have reported “brain fog” and “dysphoria and anxiety” from Noopept use. One person on Reddit experienced these symptoms after taking doses of 10 to 20 mg.
Drugs in the racetam family are typically stimulant-like substances that increase energy and act similar to caffeine but, generally, without the jitters associated with the same.
In the case of Aniracetam, it allosterically binds to the AMPA receptors of our brains, a subtype of glutamate receptor.
By increasing BDNF levels, Aniracetam acts as a neuroprotective agent, enhancing cognition and improving mood. Unfortunately, as with Phenibut and Noopept, Aniracetam can also compound anxiety symptoms in some users.
Its alteration of cholinergic and dopaminergic transmission is believed to be responsible for the anxiety it causes in some.
Users are advised to take a test to determine the severity of their anxiety to determine whether Aniracetam is a viable option for them.
The Calm Clinic offers a free 7-minute test that will help you to figure out just how anxious you are. Persons with normal levels of anxiety are less likely to experience anxiety when taking Aniracetam.
Here is where you can buy it online.
One of the most exciting nootropics on the market, Picamilon has been in use for many decades. First developed for use by Russian cosmonauts, it has been found to be a powerful cognitive enhancer.
According to Dr. Sam Robbins, a specialist in the areas of health, fitness, and longevity, Picamilon modifies GABA levels, helping to reduce anxiety levels and ward off symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and depression.
As Robbins writes, “The feeling itself of using Picamilon is that of having a good or positive ‘buzz,’ but it is not one that hooks those that use the product.
Instead, it is a feeling of relief that also provides energy as well which, unlike so many other anxiety treatments.”
You can still find Picamilon online but I can’t recommend anyone. Here is one example – but I never used this store so I can’t vouch.
Other Viable Alternatives
The buck doesn’t stop here, there are so many natural compounds out there that can help to stave off the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.
The good news for most is that the overwhelming number of these natural alternatives are available over the counter in your neighborhood drugstore or online by visiting nootropic vendors’ websites.