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Want To Stress Less? These 14 Science-Backed Supplements Can Help*

Emma Loewe
Author: Expert reviewer:
Updated on January 12, 2023
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
Expert review by
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
Last updated on January 12, 2023
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

Stress, like so many things in life, is best in moderation.

In small doses, it's a positive force that prepares our bodies to spring into action, but repeated exposure can leave us feeling drained.

"It's not a good output for your body or your brain if you have high levels of stress all the time," Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D., a brain plasticity researcher and professor of neural science at New York University, tells mbg.

Along with stress-relieving practices like exercise and meditation, supplements can help bring your body back to baseline and relieve stress before it builds up into a problem.*

In a society that has, as Suzuki puts it, "co-opted our stress response" with constant external stimulation, these are the 14 best science-backed supplements to keep around for calm:*

How we select supplements

At mindbodygreen, our expert-vetted dietary supplement product selections and recommendations in the supplement space elevate quality, efficacy, innovation, and safety.

Our team ensures that each supplement product is thoughtfully formulated--from the active ingredients to those "Other ingredient" excipients too. We are highly preferential towards clean formulas that are plant-centric (and oftentimes vegan or vegetarian) as well as free of GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, major food allergens, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, synthetic dyes, and more.

Overall, we recommend products with clean ingredients at efficacious doses in bioactive forms. Whenever possible, we celebrate and elevate plant-origin (i.e., plant-sourced) ingredients from a variety of botanicals.

Ingredient source and innovation are top of mind for our critical reviews and selection of supplement products. We prioritize forward-thinking formulations and delivery formats that are genuinely helpful in transforming your health.

We include supplement brands and products that prioritize quality. This includes robust manufacturing practices and comprehensive purity and potency testing.

You can learn more about mindbodygreen supplements+ manufacturing and quality testing practices here.

mbg's picks for the best stress supplements of 2023

Best overall for calm: mindbodygreen calm+

Save 10% with:
MBG10
view on mindbodygreen | $70

Pros

  • 20 mg of hemp CBD per serving, plus ashwagandha and lavender
  • Reduces everyday stress*
  • Promotes calm and relaxation*
  • 100% CO2 extracted & eco-farmed European full-spectrum organic hemp

Cons

  • Not suitable for vegans (gelatin gelcap)
Dietary: Gluten-freeNon-GMODairy-freeNut-freeSoy-free
Form: Gelcap

mindbodygreen's freshly renovated stress supplement, calm+, contains three relaxing botanicals—full-spectrum USDA- and E.U-certified organic European hemp oil, lavender oil, and ashwagandha root and leaf extract—in doses supported by the latest cutting-edge science. When combined, the trio promotes next-generation mood support. Each gelcap contains 20 mg of nonpsychoactive hemp-derived CBD—a sweet spot that eases stress without leaving you feeling drowsy, making this a good pick to take any time of day or night for a quick hit of calm.* Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, mbg's vice president of scientific affairs puts it this way: "This is evidence-based, plant-based calm to carry on." You can learn more about the thought process that went into this unique product here.*

Plus, save 10% on your first order with promo code MBG10.

Best hemp gummies: Cornbread Hemp Full Spectrum CBD Gummies

Pros

  • USDA certified organic
  • Flower-only full-spectrum hemp extract
  • Clean gummy formula
  • Two CBD strengths available

Cons

  • Contains 4 grams of sugar
  • Trace levels of THC (if that’s not your thing)
Dietary: Gluten-freeNon-GMODairy-freeVegan
Form: Gummy

If you're looking for a palatable but powerful treat, these tasty gummies from Kentucky-based company Cornbread Hemp contain 20 mg of USDA organic hemp-derived CBD per serving (two gummies). Unlike many gummies on the market, they're free of high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin, and artificial colors. They're also vegan (made from apple pectin) and sweetened with organic tapioca syrup and organic cane sugar. "The natural berry flavors are made from USDA organic blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, while the color comes from organic beetroot," mbg's Ferira says of what makes them a cut above the rest. "That's one clean gummy."


Best CBD tincture: Fab CBD Oil

Save 20% with Code:
MBG20
view on FAB CBD | $39

Pros

  • Combats stress
  • Variety of flavors and strengths
  • Organically grown U.S. hemp

Cons

  • Contains tree nut allergen (coconut)
Dietary: Non-GMOOrganically grown
Form: Tincture

Hemp-derived CBD helps ease stress due to the way it interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). Though there's still a lot we have yet to discover about this mysterious system, it seems to help regulate many body processes—including the stress response. The compounds in hemp plants interact with the ECS and its receptors in a healthy way, helping it do its job as a master regulatory system.* Full-spectrum blends that contain many different types of hemp plant compounds, like FAB's, seem to do this the best. We also appreciate that their tinctures come in a portfolio of different flavors and strengths, making it easy to customize your calming experience.*

Best ashwagandha: Nature Made Calm & Relax™ Veggie Capsules

Pros

  • Supports stress relief, calm, and relaxation*
  • High-potency dose of magnesium
  • Mineral and adaptogen duo

Cons

  • Not suitable for vegans
  • Lower magnesium bioavailability (oxide form)
  • Plastic packaging
Dietary: Gluten-freeVegetarian
Form: Capsule

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb with stress resilience, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. As an adaptogen, it interacts with the adrenal system to support the body's natural ability to rebound from stressors.* Research shows that ashwagandha root and leaf extracts can be an effective stress remedy in doses 125 mg or higher. Nature Made's capsules contain that 125 mg threshold, as well as 300 mg of magnesium to support muscle relaxation.*

Best high-potency rhodiola: Hum Big Chill

Pros

  • Adrenal balance support*
  • Supports a healthy stress response*
  • Enhances calm and focus*

Cons

  • Long list of “other ingredients”
  • Single active ingredient
  • Plastic packaging
Dietary: Gluten-freeNon-GMODairy-freeSoy-freeVegan
Form: Capsule

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is another adaptogen that can be used for stress management (in quantities of 100 mg or higher). Native to Europe and Asia, the root of this flowering plant is where the calming properties lie, and they've been shown to ease self-reported levels of stress, anger, and sadness when taken consistently. Hum packs 500 mg of rhodiola root extract into every vegan capsule.*

Best lavender: Nature's Way CalmAid Lavender

Pros

  • Combats feelings of anxiousness, tension, and stress*
  • English lavender oil
  • Non-drowsy

Cons

  • Contains soy allergen
  • Not suitable for vegans
Dietary: Gluten-freeDairy-free
Form: Softgel

Known for its delightfully fresh scent, English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) can also be incorporated into relaxing supplements. The herbal compound has relaxing properties and has been shown in research to help calm states of restlessness. Clinical trials show that the oil is most effective at doses higher than 80 mg.* This supplement from Nature's Way contains 80 mg of lavender oil and not much else, making it a simple, straightforward pick for daily stress defense.*


Best lemon balm: Life Extension Enhanced Stress Relief

Pros

  • Promotes healthy sleep and relaxation*
  • Enhances mood and attention*
  • Standardized lemon balm bioactives

Cons

  • Plastic packaging
  • Not suitable for vegans
Dietary: Gluten-freeNon-GMOVegetarian
Form: Capsule

Another calming botanical, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) also has sedative properties, and you'll often find it steeped into sleepytime teas. At 600-mg doses, it's been shown to increase self-reported calmness and support memory. However, it tends to decrease alertness, so it's best taken before bed.* This blend from Life Extension combines lemon balm with L-theanine, a stress-relieving amino acid found in green tea, to double down on its benefits.*

Best high-dose L-theanine: Zuma Nutrition L-theanine

Pros

  • Promotes healthy sleep and cognitive function*
  • Supports stress management and relaxation*

Cons

  • Plastic packaging
Dietary: Gluten-freeDairy-freeVegan
Form: Capsule

This next supplement doubles down on L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to promote alpha brain waves, the same relaxing waves that occur during meditation. Due to the way it seems to inhibit excitatory stimuli in the brain, research shows that L-theanine can help ease stress and promote healthy cognition when taken as a daily supplement.* It seems to work best when taken regularly, and Zuma recommends consuming one of their L-theanine capsules every four hours throughout the day to compensate for the extract's short half-life.*

Best GABA & L-theanine: Pure Encapsulations Emotional Wellness

Pros

  • Promotes healthy cognitive function*
  • Supports emotional and mental well-being*

Cons

  • Serving size is 1to 3 capsules
  • Plastic packaging
Dietary: Gluten-freeNon-GMODairy-freeSoy-freeVeganVegetarian
Form: Capsule

Along with passionflower, rhodiola, and other bioactives, Pure Encapsulation's Emotional Wellness blend stacks L-theanine with GABA—another amino acid that promotes mental calm and clarity by enhancing alpha waves. Our brains naturally produce GABA to calm down overexcited neurons, but you can find synthesized GABA in stress-easing and sleep-promoting supplements too. Research shows that the relaxant gets to work relieving stress within an hour.*

Best magnesium powder: MegaFood Relax + Calm Magnesium Powder

Pros

  • Promotes a sense of calm and relaxation*
  • Supports the nervous system, muscle, and heart health*
  • Certified B Corporation

Cons

  • Contains flavoring agents (albeit natural)
  • Plastic packaging
Dietary: Non-GMODairy-freeSoy-freeVegetarianCertified Kosher
Form: Powder

If you prefer to drink your way to calm, this powder contains three forms of magnesium (citrate, malate, and glycinate) to promote muscle relaxation and a sense of mental ease. While there's no clinical scientific consensus, 100 mg of magnesium or more is thought to have a calming benefit.* This powder contains 300 mg per scoop, and it'll give your glass of water a hit of slight sweetness thanks to its monk fruit extract.

Best pet bundle: Charlotte's Web Calming Pet Chews + Calming Human Gummies

Pros

  • Supports relaxation and stress relief*
  • Full-spectrum hemp extract
  • U.S. grown hemp

Cons

  • Gummies contain 3 grams of added sugar
  • Plastic packaging
Dietary: Gluten-free
Form: GummyChews

Why keep all that calm to yourself? This Charlotte's Web bundle contains full-spectrum hemp chewables for humans and dogs, so you and your four-legged friend can find your Zen together.* Ferira explains, "In this creative combo, the dog chew delivers 2.5 mg of plant-based phytocannabinoids per chicken-flavored chew, while the hemp gummy for the pet owner delivers 10 mg of cannabinoids per two lemon-lime-flavored gummies."

Best adaptogenic combination: MegaFood Stress Protect

Pros

  • Adaptogenic herbal blend
  • Promotes a healthy stress response*
  • Sustainably packaged

Cons

  • Not suitable for vegans
Dietary: Gluten-freeNon-GMODairy-freeSoy-freeVegetarianKosher
Form: Tablet

This botanical blend from MegaFood pairs ashwagandha with other adaptogenic herbs that have long been used for stress relief and mood support: rhodiola root, schisandra berries, astragalus root, and holy basil leaf.* Some of these plants also promote stamina and ease fatigue, making this a good formula for getting your day started on the right foot. (MegaFood notes that it can be taken any time, even on an empty stomach.)*

Best herbal blend for stress: Metagenics Serenagen®

Pros

  • Herbal blend to promote stress relief*
  • Sustainable packaging

Cons

  • Proprietary blend makes doses unknown
  • MCT source unclear
Dietary: Gluten-freeNon-GMOVegetarian
Form: Tablet

Another herbal formula, this one gets its inspiration from traditional Chinese medicine. It combines quite the laundry list of plants and herbals that have calming properties (jujube and Asian ginseng, to name a couple) to help promote a steadier, more serene mood in the face of outside stressors. In traditional medicine, similar blends have also been used to support a healthy heart.*

Best for adrenal support: Designs for Health Adrenal Complex™

Pros

  • Supports overall adrenal function*
  • Promotes healthy cortisol balance*
  • Bioactive B vitamins

Cons

  • Not suitable for vegans
Dietary: Gluten-freeNon-GMODairy-freeSoy-freeVegetarian
Form: Capsule

Finally, these vegetarian capsules contain an array of water-soluble micronutrients like vitamin C and B vitamins, along with targeted bioactives like PABA and N-acetyl-L-tyrosine that can support a healthy adrenal system and help keep stress hormones like cortisol in check.*

What our reviewers say about mindbodygreen's calm+

"Whenever I take mindbodygreen's calm+, I feel confident knowing that it's supporting my endocannabinoid system (our body's "master thermostat" for homeostatic balance) with unique plant compounds, phytocannabinoids, and terpenes, designed specifically for it.*Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do I need to take a supplement to feel any difference?

While it depends on the supplement, most of the products on this list can be consumed daily or on an as-needed basis.

Whether you take them before a particularly stressful call or during your nightly calming routine, you should be able to feel their calming effects.*

What dose should I take?

Again, it depends on the supplement, its ingredients, and your individual makeup. With stress-less supplements, more isn't always better, as high doses can lead to fatigue in some people.

Play around within the recommended range until you find a dose that's right for your stress needs, and then stick to it.* Ferira adds, "If relevant to your situation, partner with your health care provider to personalize your goals and pivot strategies as needed."

What should I look for in a stress supplement?

The best supplements always start with ingredients that have been scientifically vetted and studied in humans.

These vitamins, minerals, herbal botanicals, amino acids, and other bioactives should be present at doses high enough to be efficacious according to clinical science. Ferira always recommends watching out for "sprinkling"—or inadequate doses—in supplement products.

Traceability is also key. You'll want to ensure that the brand clearly identifies what its ingredients are and where they come from.

With botanical products, a good rule of thumb is to make sure the botanical name (genus and species) and parts of a plant (i.e., root, leaf, aerial parts, etc.) are specified on the label.

These active ingredients should make up most of the supplement. Avoid fillers like artificial colors and flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, etc., to ensure you're getting a high-quality product.

Are there any side effects I should know about?

The most common side effect of stress supplements is usually fatigue, and digestive upset is always possible (but uncommon) when you're taking something new.

As always, talk to your doctor beforehand to ensure the supplement won't interfere with any of your other medications.

And if stress starts to hinder your quality of life at any point, it's best to seek professional support. While these supplements can help ease occasional stress, they are not a treatment for clinical mood disorders or any medical condition.*

Do stress supplements actually work?

While supplements can’t get rid of stressors (wouldn’t that be nice!), thoughtfully formulated supplements can help us manage our resilience towards them. Certain botanicals like the hemp oil, ashwagandha extract, and lavender oil in calm+, have been clinically shown to improve stress resilience, elicit relaxation, and balance mood.* Whether it’s hemp oil supporting our intrinsic endocannabinoid system, or an adaptogenic herb like ashwagandha nurturing a more resilient response to stressors, supplements with science-backed ingredients can help us stress less.*

How long until I start to feel results?

Everyone’s different and every formulation is unique. With mbg’s calm+, most people will feel a calm, relaxing sensation shortly (e.g., within minutes to an hour) after taking calm+.*

The takeaway

There are a handful of ingredients that have been shown to relieve occasional stress and promote calm in clinical trials.* When integrated into a healthy stress management routine, they should help you approach life's daily challenges with a bit more ease.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.

Meet The Experts

Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.