She added that if women have mental health issues, they should see a doctor or therapist first, and should find out how certain vitamins and herbs interact with any medication they might be on before trying additional supplements. It’s also necessary to research brands and products, because many have low-grade ingredients that are ineffective.
“For patients struggling with anxiety or stress, I like to recommend 5HTP, a trigger for the production of serotonin, with the added bonus of improving sleep,” Raby said. “B6 and L-Theanine can also have a positive impact on anxiety and calm the body.”
For women who suffer from insomnia, a supplement of magnesium glycinate at bedtime can help them fall asleep, relax muscles and stabilize mood, she said. Valerian root extract and melatonin also serve as sleep aids.
Toni Coleman, a licensed clinical social worker, said in an email that probiotic supplements can help the gut, which in turn helps the mind.
“It’s key to get a baseline before doing any supplementation, which includes blood tests for deficiencies, allergy testing (for allergies/sensitivities) and an organic acids test,” Coleman said. “Hair testing for heavy metals can also be very helpful in uncovering the root of a disorder that is autoimmune in nature, which many of these are.”
She said the next step is to find a trusted health professional.
“Otherwise, folks could spend a lot of money on supplements they don’t need or that won’t cross the stomach and blood-brain barrier,” Coleman said. For example, she said that vitamin B12 is best taken in a shot or patch for many people who suffer from anxiety and depression.
Although many benefit from holistic health supplements, there are others who haven’t reaped the benefits and who are skeptical of the whole movement. Some suggest holistic health treatments haven’t been researched enough to prove any true benefits.
Dr. Russell Green, a psychiatrist in the U.K., said in an email that there is no real evidence to show any supplements or vitamins work to improve mental health. He said that extra vitamins often are not absorbed properly by the body or can be dangerous at high doses.