Natural Beta Blockers: What They Are & What They Can Do for You
Mental health is an often misunderstood subject, both by the people with conditions and those trying to treat them. Today’s society tends to jump to prescribing pharmaceutical medications whenever it seems that somebody may have some sort of condition, but that might not always be the answer.
There are actually many natural alternatives to those medications that are still able to help people who are suffering from various mental health conditions. As natural health and beauty practices become more popular, more information about these alternatives is being discovered and discussed.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is actually a general term used to describe several different disorders that contribute to a feeling of nervousness, apprehension, worrying, and fear. These feelings may affect how a person behaves and can often cause physical symptoms as well. Some conditions are mild and have tolerable symptoms, while severe conditions may significantly affect a person’s daily life.
In the United States, some 40 million people suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. In fact, anxiety is the most common type of mental health condition in the United States, even though less than half of people with anxiety actually get treated for it. It’s also important to note that there is a difference between normal feelings of anxiety and actual anxiety disorders that require treatment and medical attention.
Normal feelings of anxiety are actually necessary for survival, and they have been since ancient days when humanity was just beginning. It falls in line with the “fight or flight” response that you may be familiar with. Before the “fight or flight” decision is actually made, a rush of adrenaline causes the reactions of anxiety, including an increased heartbeat, sensitivity, and sweating.
On the other hand, however, people with an anxiety disorder experienced an increased amount of these symptoms for longer periods than is typically normal. The reactions become disproportional in comparison to the original stressor, and there may be physical symptoms, such as nausea or an increase in blood pressure. Essentially, people with anxiety disorders have feelings of anxiety that are different than what might normally be expected.
Types of Anxiety
Generally speaking, anxiety disorders fall into one of six primary categories or types. These types include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or separation anxiety disorder. Each of these types of anxiety disorders has their own symptoms and causes, depending on the severity and triggers involved.
Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common and might not always have an identifiable cause. It involves long periods of anxiety and feelings of worry regarding nonspecific events or situations. Panic disorders, on the other hand, are characterized by sudden or short attacks of panic, apprehension, and terror. These attacks may be caused by prolonged times of stress or by frightening events. With that said, they may also be caused by nothing at all.
Similar to panic disorders, separation anxiety disorders occur when somebody exhibits separated from someone or someplace that makes them feel safe. This may often result in panic-like symptoms. Obsessive-compulsive disorders involve repetitive, intrusive, and distressing thoughts that are known to be irrational. Compulsions typically include things like obsessive cleaning or constantly checking things like locks or light switches.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, results from a traumatic experience. The person may experience anxiety or panic when triggers remind them of the event. Social anxiety disorders are related to fears of social situations or being embarrassed or humiliated publicly. Phobias are different from most anxiety disorders because they are associated with a specific cause or trigger. People with phobias may know that their fear is irrational, but they are unable to control their caused anxiety, anyway.
Using Natural Beta Blockers to Treat Anxiety
Most of the time, people with anxiety are prescribed medications to help ease their symptoms and alter their brain chemistry to eliminate the anxiety altogether. There are, however, natural alternatives to the pharmaceutical medications that psychiatrists often prescribe.
Beta blockers are medications that work to reduce blood pressure by blocking epinephrine, which is the hormone otherwise known as adrenaline. When epinephrine is blocked, you become less likely to experience a racing heartbeat or a rise in stress levels, which are associated with symptoms of anxiety.
When the beta blockers reduce the adrenaline present in the body, it reduces the natural “fight or flight” response that today’s society experiences too often. Natural beta-blocking medications have been developed to slow the heartbeat, which is associated with the rushes of adrenaline that are associated with anxiety. Beta blockers can also be developed to be selective in the types of beta they target, or they can be non-selective, which means they would affect both beta 1 and beta 2.
Because of how common anxiety disorders and high blood pressure have become in today’s society, many people have turned to natural beta blockers as an alternative to heavy pharmaceutical use. Some have even said that using natural beta blockers could help reduce the user’s reliance on pharmaceutical medications. As more people learn about the potentially negative side effects of mainstream medications, natural alternatives like beta blockers are becoming more and more popular.
Natural Beta Blockers
While there are certainly medications made from natural beta blockers, there are also many natural substances that act as effective and safe beta blockers.
What are Natural Beta Blockers?
When we refer to natural beta blockers we are talking about a herb, a vitamin or an amino acid. As well as effectively blocking the stress hormone receptors, these natural types of beta blockers can also help to normalize a person’s hormone function. This additional action is not something that conventional beta blockers are designed to do.
The other remarkable thing about natural beta blockers is that they perform these amazing functions with little or no risk of adverse side effects.
For example, passion flower has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, as well as high blood pressure. It may also frequently be used to treat other conditions such as insomnia, stress, tension, pain, or muscle stiffness. Passionflower can be found in either liquid or supplementary capsule forms. (1)
Arginine is an amino acid that lowers blood pressure levels by widening the arteries. While this nutrient does occur naturally in some foods, including nuts, supplements allow the body to get more concentrated levels of it. It’s important to note, however, that some studies have shown that arginine may have negative effects on toxicity in the brain.
With that said, it is still frequently used to treat vascular disorders of many types and studies into its effects are promising. (2)
St. John’s Wort is an herb that is often used to treat anxiety disorders and mild forms of depression. It is often prescribed by doctors for its proven positive effects. The herb helps to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body, at the same time as it reduces levels of adrenaline.
Some studies have also shown that it may reduce levels of estrogen in the body, as well. Excess estrogen could contribute to depression, memory problems, and panic attacks. (3)
People in the South Pacific have been drinking kava for centuries to promote calm and relieve anxiety and it has recently become more popular in the West. While some people use it to promote a mild buzz, studies indicate that it can help relax the muscles and the mind by binding to GABA receptors. (4)
The active ingredient in kava are known as kavalactones and the percentage of these compounds reflect its strength and potency. If you are looking for a natural beta blocker to calm your anxiety, kava may fit the bill. Read about the best kava supplements here.
Rhodiola rosea as an herb from Scandinavia that found its way into traditional Chinese medicine. Chinese practitioners have long used the herb to promote both mental and physical vitality and health and it is popular for both mental and physical fatigue and stress.
According to a number of studies, rhodoiola rosea is effective in relieving stress and fatigue depression while it can also improve cognition and the general feelings of well-being. (5)
Read about the best rhodiola rosea supplements here.
Ashwagandha is another adaptogenic herb meaning that it can normalize the levels of stress in the body and improve the body’s response to stress.
Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha are generally considered safe especially when compared to more powerful pharmaceutical beta blockers and anti-anxiety medication. Studies suggest that ashwagandha can significantly improve a person’s resistance to stress and improve their quality of life. (6)
Ginkgo biloba is very well known for its ability to improve cognitive abilities like memory, focus and concentration and animal studies have also revealed that the herb can combat anxiety. (7) It works by activating GABA which in turn helps promote calm and well-being.
If you would like to read a detailed review about gingko biloba and its many excellent benefits, click on the following link. The Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba.
Chamomile tea is an extremely tasty and refreshing drink made for chamomile flowers. Chamomile tea is packed with antioxidants which can benefit your body and mind and it is also believed to help combat anxiety and promote calm.
Drinking chamomile tea can help control blood pressure, relax the mind and reduce feelings of anxiety while it is also known to help you get a good night of sleep. While the tea is very popular, you can also use chamomile essential oil for maximum benefit.
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in turkey but also available in supplementary form. Studies have linked a deficiency in tryptophan to anxiety and heightened stress. According to research, tryptophan helps promote the production of dopamine and serotonin as well as norepinephrine which helps reduce blood pressure.
Because of these actions, tryptophan work very much like a beta blocker but as a naturally occurring substance is far safer than the pharmaceutical varieties.
You are probably all familiar with GABA by now. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system which plays a major role in reducing nervous system agitation. As a result, it can help calm you down during times of stress and help you deal more easily with life’s stressors.
GABA supplements are widely available at health food stores and online however studies regarding the effects of these supplements are inconclusive. (8)
Glutamine is a well-researched amino acid which helps to recycle antioxidants in the body. In fact, you may have heard people refer to glutamine as the master antioxidant.
Glutamine helps you to burn fat and build muscles but not only does glutamine have a number of beneficial effects on the body, it also plays a significant role in promoting relaxation of the brain and boosting emotional well-being. Glutamine is able to this because it helps produce GABA.
Most of you will be aware of the benefits of drinking green tea because of its huge supply of antioxidants. But did you know that this popular drink also contained an amino acid called theanine. This is significant since theanine helps calm the brain and helps you to deal with anxiety.
According to studies it works by increasing both dopamine and GABA production which relieves stress and promotes feelings of well-being much like a pharmaceutical beta blocker.
Inositol is another supplement that may work as a natural beta blocker by calming the body and relieving anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, you need to take inositol in very high doses to benefit from them. The good news is that inositol is extremely safe even when taken in high doses.
According to research, inositol can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety, panic attacks and blood pressure making it a potentially effective natural beta blocker.
Bacopa monnieri has long been used in Indian and Chinese medicine to improve cognitive functions including memory and focus. However, it is also used to help treat anxiety and stress.
According to studies, the herb actually helps cognition by alleviating feelings of anxiety which would make it very suitable for people who need clear thoughts for work and examinations. (9)
Omega-3 Fish Oil
I am sure you have heard plenty about the amazing benefits of fish oil. It is lauded for so many ailments that it will come as no surprise to find that it is also a natural form of beta blocker. Omega-3 fish oils consist of two types of fatty acid – DHA and EPA. Omega-3 fish oil supplements can enhance brain activity and reduce anxiety by helping to boost the production of the neurotranslitter-dopamine. According to research, dopamine levels are closely linked to anxiety.
As well as acting as a natural beta blocker, fish oil is linked to a range of other health the benefits of fish oil include heart health, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, relieving depression and anxiety and reducing inflammation.
If you have not heard of 5-HTP, it is a precursor to serotonin which you will likely be familiar with. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, emotional well-being, sleep and even appetite. Taking 5-HTP supplements increase the production of serotonin which in turn results in greater feelings of happiness and reduced depression especially in those with low serotonin levels.
As well as improving mood and reducing depression and anxiety, 5-HTP may also help people control their weight and may even promote weight loss.
Magnesium supplements may also have beta blocker effects. Studies have revealed that when used in combination with calcium supplements, magnesium can reduce feelings of anxiety and its related symptoms.
You do not have to take a magnesium supplement to get your recommended dose of magnesium. In fact, you should easily be able to get plenty of the mineral from a magnesium rich diet. Foods that are high in magnesium include spinach, celery, oatmeal, walnuts, pine nuts, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, kidney beans and whole grains. Fresh fish, milk, soybean and other soy products are also a good source of magnesium.
By adding more of these foods to your diet, you can naturally reduce your stress levels and relieve anxiety.
Foods That Are Natural Beta Blockers
Other than herbs and similar types of natural substances, there are also many foods that can act as natural beta blockers, as well. For example, foods that contain potassium are great for reducing hypertension and heart issues. Foods that contain potassium might include bananas, orange juice, raisins, white beans, or potatoes. Pomegranates are also very popular beta blockers for their high levels of antioxidants, which could help reduce cholesterol levels and thin the blood.
When it comes to meat and fish, an amino acid called tryptophan can be found in red meat, turkey, tuna, and shellfish. Tryptophan is great for boosting the production of serotonin and reducing any levels of stress. Another amino acid called L-arginine can be found in beef, pork, and seafood, and it is popular for its ability to lower blood pressure levels. Dairy, on the other hand, contains high levels of both tryptophan and L-arginine.
Why Use Natural Beta Blockers?
There are a number of issues related to prescription beta blockers. The main issue is that they cause a slew of unwanted side effects. Common side effects of conventional beta blockers include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, dry mouth, headache, stomach upset, diarrhea and constipation. Less common side effects are much more severe and include shortness of breath, wheezing, depression and loss of libido.
Many people who feel stressed and anxious may become even more anxious over the potential side effects of these medications while there is also a very real risk of dependency.
While there is not nearly as much evidence that natural beta blockers are as effective in reducing anxiety as pharmaceutical drugs, this does not mean they will not work for you. There is obviously far less research into the effects of natural medications due to a lack of funding. However, the research that has been done to date suggests that a number of natural remedies can be extremely effective in reducing stress and anxiety and the risk of adverse side effects is minimal.
Do Natural Beta Blockers Really Work?
In comparison to pharmaceutical beta blockers, natural beta blockers come with many more benefits and a lot less negative side effects. Some chemical or pharmaceutical beta blockers have even been noted to cause serious side effects, potentially including death. Looking at the long list of potential side effects from pharmaceutical beta blockers could make it easy to feel even more anxiety.
Another benefit of natural beta blockers is that they don’t actually alter your brain chemistry. Instead, they target other things that can help reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. Natural beta blockers are certainly safer alternatives to pharmaceutical medications, but they may also be more effective, as shown by several scientific studies.
In the end, using natural beta blockers is a great way to reduce your anxiety symptoms while also encouraging better heart and overall health. The best part is that there are many natural herbs, vitamins, and foods to choose from that all provide similar benefits to treat anxiety disorders. Whether you are fan of pomegranates or more earthy herbs, there is a reliable option for any taste.