Suffering from stressful and ruminating thoughts?
Rumination can take a big toll on a person’s quality of life. It can wreck your sleep, your mood, and your relationships with other people.
For anyone unfamiliar, rumination is when a person stresses too much about the past or future. That person often imagines the worst-case scenarios in their mind. This kind of rumination is closely linked to anxiety and depression.
Sometimes we dwell on the most insignificant on things – yet at that moment they seem very important.
Luckily, natural supplements for rumination can help. These include herbs and vitamins which promote a positive mood, calm mind, and healthy stress response.
With that said, let’s see what happens in your brain when you ruminate. And which of the 14 natural supplements for rumination on this list can help you the most.
You can use the table of contents to skip to any part of the article you wish.
What Constant Rumination Does to Your Body
Rumination creates a vicious cycle where your body is always in the ‘flight-or-fight’ mode.
This mode is our ancient survival mechanism. In the past, it served to help us fend off or flee from the danger. But it blocks our ability to think clearly and feel good when it’s constantly turned ‘on’.
During flight-or-fight, your body releases a cocktail of chemicals. These include adrenaline, noradrenaline, and most notably – cortisol.
The Cortisol-Rumination Link
Cortisol is the main problem here. While it’s good for you in small amounts, it’s all but that when chronically elevated.
Cortisol typically spikes in the morning to help wake you up. Then it slowly declines over the course of the day. Until it is at it’s lowest in the evening, so you can relax, unwind, and fall asleep.
When you’re in a constant stressed state from rumination, you’ll find that your cortisol levels won’t be able to go down naturally. Which can lead to insomnia.
Supplements for rumination can help you in two ways here. For one, some of them directly help with rumination and therefore reduce your stress levels with it. Other ruminating supplements on this list work to blunt the stress response. So that you can break out of the cycle of negative thinking.
See for yourself:
Natural Supplements For Rumination
Bacopa Monnieri or Water Hyssop is a creeping herb traditionally used for its mental benefits. (7) It helps you with a variety of things, from memory to mood.
Bacopa is particularly good at clearing your brain of excess negative thoughts. It does this by balancing your neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
Serotonin is your brain’s happy chemical. Low serotonin levels are shown to cause a variety of problems, including depressed & anxious mood. (8) This state of mind often leads to ruminating thoughts.
Luckily, Bacopa helps with this, which leads to an improvement in the quality of your day to day thoughts.
What’s more, Bacopa also boosts your dendrites. (9) Dendrites are basically the extensions of your brain cells. Much like branches on a tree. It’s through dendrites that brain cells send signals to each other.
The denser and more developed your dendritic network is, the better your neuron to neuron communication is. Which will help you be more in control of your thoughts.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for your brain. 20% of your cerebral cortex is made of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is what helps you repair and build new brain cells.
Studies have shown that omega-3s have a profound impact on our mood, memory, cognition, and many other mental processes. (6) The problem is, omega-3s are mostly found in fish and some plant foods, but many of us don’t consume enough of those. And since your body can’t make omega-3s on its own, that creates a problem.
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Lack of DHA intake can reduce your memory. It can also make you moody and irritable. Adding DHA is shown to help with anger in stressed college students during finals.
Therefore, adding omega-3s to your diet – especially DHA – might contribute to a healthier headspace where you have fewer ruminating thoughts. (5)
NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
NAC is a derivate of the natural amino acid L-Cysteine. Your body uses NAC to make more glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant. Higher glutathione levels in the brain are shown to protect neurons from damage and other similar issues. (10)
Now, you may ask why you wouldn’t simply take a glutathione supplement then? The answer is, glutathione can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. It also doesn’t seem to be as effective as NAC.
NAC, on the other hand, doesn’t just help you produce more glutathione. It has its own unique benefits. These include improved mood, less anxiety, less OCD, and less irritability. Basically, when it comes to your mood and quality of thinking, NAC improves all that’s good and gets rid of all that’s bad. (11)
You may find NAC to be particularly good for stopping those constant worrying thoughts. Many people claim it helps them tremendously in this regard.
Ashwagandha, or „the smell of the horse“. Yes, that’s what ashwagandha literally means in the Sanskrit language. As it turns out, Ashwagandha may not make you smell like a horse. But what it will do is give you the vigor, vitality, and both mental and physical energy of the animal.
Ashwagandha is known to kill off excess cortisol. As we’ve discussed, cortisol is a stress hormone that can negatively impact your health and cognitive well-being when constantly elevated.
High cortisol can be detrimental to your health, and as we’ve seen above, it can make you ruminate a lot. Leading to a never-ending cycle of negative thoughts.
Fret not though – Ashwagandha can help. Studies show Ashwagandha can reduce cortisol by as much as 30%! (12)
So, if you’re struggling with rumination due to stress & anxiety, Ashwagandha could be the perfect supplement for you.
Magnesium is a mineral that most of us are familiar with. It’s essential for our bodies, meaning you must get it from your diet or supplements.
Low magnesium can make you irritable, cause muscle cramps and twitches, and lead to ruminating thoughts. (13) But here’s where it gets worse…
Magnesium deficiency is incredibly common these days. (14) Partly due to soil depletion and modern farming methods. And partly due to our diets filled with processed junk.
Even if you eat healthy, it can be hard to get enough magnesium. Not just due to soil depletion like I mentioned above but also due to the fact that most foods contain it in relatively small amounts. You’d have to eat 5 avocados or about 130g of cashews daily to get your daily requirement for magnesium which is 400mg.
Magnesium is without a doubt one of the most important natural supplements for rumination. But also for other aspects of health like testosterone, cognitive function, and memory.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is known as a natural anti-depressant. This OTC supplement is actually a flowering plant. And it works much like an SSRI; increasing levels of the available serotonin in your brain. (15)
This will naturally put you in a better mood which is associated with less rumination.
Now, it’s important to know that St. Jon’s Wort is not without side effects. Never take it with another medication, especially an SSRI. Doing so can lead to serotonin syndrome, which is potentially fatal. Certain compounds in St. Jon’s Wort are also known to cause eye and skin sensitivity. So if you decide to take this supplement, you might want to bring sunglasses and sunscreen with you on a bright and sunny day. Otherwise, it’s best to talk to your doctor about St. John’s Wort if you have any concerns or questions.
That said, St. Jonh’s Wort is safe and effective for the majority of people. There are just a couple of things to watch out for if you’ve never taken it before!
Tyrosine is a natural amino acid found in food. It helps your brain make more dopamine. It’s simple; dopamine is your brain’s reward and ‘pleasure’ chemical. Low dopamine links to mood issues, including anxiety and restlessness which so often lead to rumination.
Tyrosine is particularly good at keeping you calm, relaxed, and focused during stress. Taking it 30-60 before a challenging event (e.g. a presentation, a school or work project, an intense training session) can boost your performance and reduce overthinking. (16)
Choose N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine over regular Tyrosine if you can. That’s because NALT absorbs better in your brain.
Naturally Sourced Vitamin B Complex
B vitamins are the foundations for a healthy brain and mental state. Much like omega-3s. However, some diets can lack certain B vitamins, such as B6 and B12. These two are known to play a key role in neurological health, even more so than some other B vitamins. For this reason, taking a high-quality B complex can be a great way to improve your mental well-being. (17)
Wholefood Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a simple yet powerful vitamin for fighting stress and stressful thoughts. It helps the body better deal with pressure, along with boosting your immune system and antioxidant defense. Vitamin C also protects the neurons from damage. This is thanks to it being a powerful free radical scavenger. (18)
Side note: free radicals are known to damage cells in the body. Including neurons.
CBD is a natural compound from the cannabis plant. Now, if you never heard of CBD before, you might assume that it’s the same as THC, the compound that makes you ‘high’. But that’s not the case.
CBD is perfectly legal in many countries, including in the USA. Many athletes, busy people, and professionals use it to improve their mood, mental energy, muscle recovery, and resilience to stress.
Unlike THC, a CBD isolate won’t cause any of those psychoactive effects that cannabis is known for. Instead, it will help you sleep better, reduce anxiety, and promote physical vitality and cognitive wellness. CBD is particularly good at calming the racing mind down. (19) Which is why people who meditate love to use it – as it can improve the mindfulness practice.
CBD is also very well tolerated by most people. It is available in various forms – including capsules, oils, and edibles. Make sure to check if CBD is legal in your country before ordering it, though.
Kava Kava has long been used to treat anxiety. According to research, this herb seems to be on par with some pharmaceutical anxiolytics. (20)
However, it’s not without side effects.
Some people quickly build tolerance to it, while others might experience gastrointestinal issues from using Kava.
Also known as Mellisa Officinalis, Lemon Balm is one of the more popular herbs for calming anxiety and restless thoughts. It contains rosmarinic acid, which acts as a sedative; not only helping with sleep but also improving mood. (21) Studies suggest that Lemon Balm can even improve your mental function during stress. (22) Lemon balm can help you better control your thoughts, which can be of great help to those who can’t seem to stop their rumination.
Rhodiola Rosea is another adaptogenic herb on this list of natural supplements for rumination. And there’s a good reason why I’ve included more than one adaptogen in this post.
The reason is, these herbs are fantastic for stress and anxious thoughts. They help you deal better with stressful situations and see things from a more objective perspective. Rhodiola is particularly good at keeping your brain sharp and resilient to stress. And it also boosts mental energy. (23)
In some animal studies, Rhodiola even assisted with brain cell repair and growth. This is important because brain cell decline in the hippocampus is associated with low mood and other mental problems closely tied with rumination. (24)
Valerian root is traditionally used as a sleep aid. That’s because it can help with GABA. A chemical messenger that reduces glutamate activity in the brain. Glutamate is what ‘excites’ your neurons, prompting them to fire more signals to each other. Too much glutamate links to anxiety and restless thoughts. Therefore, boosting your GABA levels with Valerian will help you to have a less chatty mind. (25)
Anything Else to Consider?
While some of these natural supplements for rumination can have a profound impact on your mental well being. It never hurts to remember that they’re not the cure-all panacea.
By optimizing your lifestyle first, you’ll get more out of the rumination supplements. Here are a few suggestions, if you haven’t started doing those already.
Meditation is an ancient practice from the East. It’s arguably the most effective natural way to ‘tame’ the monkey mind.
Meditate long enough and the size of your prefrontal cortex will increase. At the same time, the amygdala, the fear center responsible for worrying and rumination, decreases from meditation. (26)
Meditation has also been shown to help with self-control, and the ability to redirect your focus to the present moment. All perfect things for breaking out of that rumination cycle.
Go For a Long Run
Exercise, and running in particular, releases endorphins in your brain which improve your mood. (27)
Studies show that running reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. It also helps to improve your overall health and cognitive strength. (28)
Moreover, running puts you in a meditative-like state where you’re fully absorbed in the present moment.
Many people claim that running is like therapy for them. Because it completely clears their minds of negative thoughts.
Talk to a Professional Therapist
In cases like rumination, it’s always best to seek advice from a trained professional. Some of the most effective talk treatments for rumination include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and the more specific Ed Watkins’ rumination-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
Both shift your ruminative and negative thoughts to a more healthy and adaptive ways of thinking.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Some foods should be avoided generally, but more so if you have problems with rumination. Sugars and processed carbs often spike insulin which is linked to mood swings and irritability. A diet high in processed foods can also increase inflammation in the body and promote cortisol. Both of which are known for their negative impact on a person’s mental state.
Take a Cold Shower
This might sound counterintuitive, but cold showers will reduce your stress levels, improve mood, and increase alertness. When you regularly take a cold shower, you’re putting your body through small amounts of stress. This hardens you both physically and mentally, according to the Wim Hof Method.
Go For a Walk in Nature
Natural supplements for rumination are great, but going for a walk in nature is arguably the most natural and effective way to reduce stress and overthinking.
Conclusion on Natural Supplements For Rumination
Taking natural supplements for rumination can help you have a less chatty, more peaceful, and happier mind. Now, while these are certainly no replacement for proper medical advice nor they should be, they might be helpful if you’re looking for a natural way to have a healthier headspace.
From Bacopa to Omega-3s, these rumination supplements can be of vital importance for keeping a healthy and happy mind.
And as you continue to make improvements to your lifestyle – including having a healthy diet, exercising, practicing mindfulness, and perhaps going to a professional therapist – you’ll certainly get even more benefits out of these supplements for ruminating thoughts.
*Individual results may vary. Please speak with your doctor or physician before undertaking any new weight reduction, supplement, or exercise regime.
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