Beta blockers are prescribed to treat heart problems, anxiety such as “performance anxiety” or stage fright, and high blood pressure. They work by blocking adrenaline, but they must not be prescribed to people who suffer from asthma and specific heart or arterial conditions; a doctor’s advice must always be sought first.
There are many foods that can act as natural beta blockers. To feel the benefits, it is important to consume these foods as part of a balanced diet.
Fruits, Vegetables and Pulses
Potassium, like beta blockers, can reduce the risk of hypertension and therefore heart problems. Potassium is found in most fruit and vegetables, but the highest levels are found in bananas, potatoes, white beans, raisins and orange juice.
Pomegranates contain antioxidants that help fight cancer, thin the blood and lower cholesterol levels, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease. Pomegranate juice is becoming popular as a natural beta blocker.
The amino acid GABA is a natural tranquilizer that reduces anxiety and is also used to treat epilepsy and hypertension. It is destroyed by cooking but is found in raw spinach, almonds, walnuts and citrus fruits.
Meat, Fish and Dairy
Red meat, turkey, shellfish and tuna contain the amino acid tryptophan, which reduces stress levels and helps to produce serotonin. Seafood, pork and beef contain the L-arginine amino acid, which reduces blood pressure. Dairy products are good sources of both. Most meats are also good sources of potassium, and beef liver contains the amino acid GABA.
Herbs and Flowers
Chamomile tea is high in antioxidants and helps to induce sleep and relaxation. The flower and leaves of the passionflower can also be made into a tea that has sedative effects, reducing anxiety and fighting insomnia. Passionflower is also available in capsule form, but medical advice must be sought before taking, as it can have unwanted side effects.
Inula racemosa is a herb usually found at high altitudes that has an analgesic effect. A study by the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at Banaras Hindu University in India found that the root powder of the herb had a beneficial effect on patients with heart disease.
St. John’s Wort is used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, and is available in tablet, tea or liquid form. But it must not be taken before consulting a medical professional first.
References and ResourcesBUPA: Beta Blockers
U.S. National Library of Medicine: Assessment of the adrenergic beta-blocking activity of Inula racemosa
World's Healthiest Foods: Tryptophan
Healthcare Information Directory: GABA Supplement
Mostly Wind: A Discussion on Performance Anxiety