Are there Natural Beta-Blockers that can help with Performance Anxiety & Stage Fright?

Beta-Blockers or Beta-adrenergic blocking agents are used by performers to help with performance anxiety and the stomach butterfly’s that can come before a big performance. Many musicians & professional performers like public speakers, who rely on their ability to remain calm & focused under the spotlight, use beta blockers to help with their careers, but are concerned about potential side-effects of beta blockers. So we decided to research how beta blockers work, why they have an effect on stage fright and anxiety, as well as if there are any unknown side-effects to beta blockers. Finally, we look at if there is a natural beta blocker alternative that can help performers with anxiety and stage fright, and look at why they are so effective.

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Natural beta blockers for performance anxiety & stage fright

Are you a violinist or a singer who regularly experiences a sense of dread before a performance? Or maybe your heart starts racing, and you begin to sweat profusely, as you’re about to deliver a speech? If this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from performance anxiety.

Musicians, speakers, or anybody else that has to perform under pressure, can experience performance anxiety due to a variety of factors. The fear of an adverse reaction from the audience often impacts their ability to function at an optimal level.

Many performers turn to medications, especially beta-blockers, to combat performance anxiety. Beta-blockers are generally safe, but they might come with some unpleasant side-effects like nausea and dizziness [1].

Here, we’ll take a closer look at performance anxiety and some of its causes. We’ll also discuss how beta-blockers help with performance anxiety and explore some alternative remedies that might act as natural beta-blockers without the side-effects.

What is performance anxiety?

Performance anxiety, also known as stage fright, is the stress response that happens within someone when they are required to perform for an audience. It is a form of anxiety that is often experienced by people that have a social anxiety disorder (SAD). SAD is an irrational fear of being judged, humiliated, or embarrassed.

Performance anxiety is not a mental disorder. Its the body’s natural response to stressful situations, and most people experience some anxiety before they have to perform. It becomes problematic when the stress response is severe enough to interfere with someone’s ability to perform at a normal level.

What are some symptoms of performance anxiety?

The symptoms vary from person to person. For some people, stage fright is relatively mild. Others can experience panic attacks when its time to perform or speak in front of an audience.

Some common symptoms of performance anxiety are as follows [2].

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating
  • An impulse to back out of the performance
  • Trembling hands
  • An increase in errors in the performance

What causes performance anxiety?

Performance anxiety can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Negative thought patterns about one’s own ability to perform can lead to a fight-or-flight response on stage and impact the performance. The performer then thinks their anxiety was warranted, making them more likely to experience stage fright in the future.

Environmental factors, like being bullied as a child [4] or having overly critical parents are thought to increase the risk of developing social anxiety disorder (SAD), and performance anxiety.

Having a hyperactive amygdala (a part of the brain that regulates emotions and stress response) has also been linked with SAD [3]. It might leave someone predisposed to an exaggerated fear response, which could potentially cause performance anxiety.

What are beta-blockers?

Beta-blockers are a class of pharmaceutical drugs that block the effects of adrenaline hormone (also known as epinephrine), which plays a vital role in triggering the fight-or-flight response when you’re in a stressful situation [5]. Beta-blockers are also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, or beta-adrenergic antagonists (since adrenaline is a beta-adrenergic substance).

Doctors typically prescribe beta-blockers for a variety of conditions such as abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure, angina, glaucoma, among others.

How do beta-blockers work?

Adrenaline is a neurotransmitter that triggers the fight-or-flight response by attaching itself to beta receptors found in the heart, kidneys, eyes, and other parts of the body. Beta-blockers block adrenaline from binding with the beta receptors [6].

By blocking the effects of adrenaline, beta-blockers reduce the stress on the heart and lowers the force with which it has to pump blood. This has a relaxing impact on the blood vessels found in the heart, brain, and around the body [7].

Beta-blockers also relax blood vessels by preventing the kidneys from releasing a hormone called angiotensin II [8].

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How Do Beta Blockers Help With Performance Anxiety?

According to Dr. Robert Attaran, an assistant professor of cardiology at Yale University, beta-blockers are commonly used to treat physical symptoms of performance anxiety [9]. He says that the use of beta-blockers to combat stage fright is accepted within the medical community, for the most part, assuming they are taken with appropriate caution.

When a performer or speaker takes a beta-blocker, it slows their heart rate, reduces the trembling and sweating, and it regulates their breathing and blood pressure. It helps the performer feel relaxed, essentially negating the stress response to help them get through the performance. However, beta-blockers can’t address the underlying causes of stage fright. Those require longer-term solutions, as we’ll discuss below.

According to a 2016 review of existing research, propranolol (the ingredient in Inderal) is similarly effective in reducing anxiety when compared to benzodiazepines, another class of drugs used for anxiety. However, it only worked in the short-term [10].

What are some common over-the-counter (OTC) beta-blockers?

There are various beta-blockers available on the market, but here are some of the most common ones (and their ingredients).

Inderal is the most common one when it comes to people using beta-blockers for performance anxiety.

It is critical to remember that everyone responds to medications and treatments differently. If you’re considering using beta-blockers for stage fright, or another condition, be sure to consult a medical professional before you begin.

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Are there any alternative remedies that might act as natural beta-blockers?

Beta-blockers can temporarily address the symptoms of performance anxiety. For a longer-term solution, there are several natural remedies and lifestyle adjustment options available to address the underlying causes of your stage fright.

We just published a new post detailing the exact easily-available ingredients (and best brands) that are natural beta blocker alternatives, perfect for reducing anxiety & stage fright! The sections on GABA & L-theanine are really worth checking out!

Supplements that are good natural alternatives to beta blockers for anxiety & stage fright

To find out the best natural alternatives to beta blockers, we first have to understand what beta blockers do for performers experiencing anxiety, understand the mechanism and then look at naturally bioavailable alternatives that can serve the same (or better) purpose.

So, when a performer or speaker takes a beta-blocker, it slows their heart rate, reduces any trembling and sweating, and regulates their breathing and blood pressure. Beta blockers help the performer feel relaxed, essentially negating the stress response to help them get through a performance or high-pressure scenario.

As mentioned earlier, Beta-blockers have this effect because they block the effects of adrenaline hormone, by blocking adrenaline from binding with the beta receptors, and this prevents the triggering of our fight-or-flight response when under stress. Stress on the heart is then reduced, combined with further relaxation of blood vessels due to beta blockers also preventing the kidneys from releasing a hormone called angiotensin II, and practically the whole body can reach a calm, relaxed state; from the blood vessels in the heart, to the brain and around the body.

Balancing GABA Levels as an alternative to beta blockers for anxiety & stage fright

GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid has a huge effect on anxiety levels & has been studied thoroughly for its effect on performance anxiety & stage fright

GABA, or Gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid thats primary function is to reduce the activity levels of neurons in the nervous system. This can have various effects on the body like promoting relaxation, calmness, and a balanced mood.

GABA has been shown in several studies to be a natural relaxant, even during high-stress scenarios.

GABA boosting supplements & products for staying calm under stress

We have a more comprehensive list of GABA-boosting supplements & products like black & green tea in this article, but if you are looking for some natural alternatives to beta blockers that reduce anxiety by boosting GABA levels, then we recommend:

GABA supplement for relaxation
Source Naturals Serene Science GABA 750 mg Calm Mind - 180 Capsules
Amount of GABA per serving (mg)
750mg
More Information
uVitals Choice
NOW Supplements, GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)500 mg + B-6, 200 Count, Veg Capsules
GABA Supplement
Amount of GABA per serving (mg)
500mg
More Information
Stress-Relax Pharma GABA 100 mg by Natural Factors, Non-Drowsy Stress Support for Relaxation and Mental Focus, 60 Vegetarian Capsules (30 Servings)
Amount of GABA per serving (mg)
200mg
More Information
Thorne Research - PharmaGABA-250 - Natural Source GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) Supplement - Promotes a Calm, Relaxed, Focused State of Mind - 60 Capsules
Amount of GABA per serving (mg)
250mg
More Information

We recommend NOW Supplements GABA which contains 500mg of GABA per serving, has some great reviews & is very well priced from a trusted brand. There is evidence of people experiencing a calmer state after taking GABA supplements. Some small studies suggest that GABA supplements can promote relaxation.

L-Theanine supplements may help reduce generalized anxiety
uVitals Choice
Suntheanine® L-Theanine 200mg (Double-Strength) in Cold-Pressed Organic Coconut Oil; Non-GMO & Gluten Free - 60 Liquid Softgels
Doctor's Best L-Theanine Contains Suntheanine, Helps Reduce Stress & Sleep, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Vegan, 150 mg 90 Veggie Caps (DRB-00197)
NOW Supplements, L-Theanine 200 mg with Inositol, Stress Management*, 120 Veg Capsules
Amount of L-Theanine per serving (mg)
200mg Suntheanine®
150mg Suntheanine®
200mg
uVitals Choice
Suntheanine® L-Theanine 200mg (Double-Strength) in Cold-Pressed Organic Coconut Oil; Non-GMO & Gluten Free - 60 Liquid Softgels
Amount of L-Theanine per serving (mg)
200mg Suntheanine®
More Information
Doctor's Best L-Theanine Contains Suntheanine, Helps Reduce Stress & Sleep, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Vegan, 150 mg 90 Veggie Caps (DRB-00197)
L-theanine Supplement
Amount of L-Theanine per serving (mg)
150mg Suntheanine®
More Information
NOW Supplements, L-Theanine 200 mg with Inositol, Stress Management*, 120 Veg Capsules
Amount of L-Theanine per serving (mg)
200mg
More Information

L-theanine boosts GABA levels, which can promote relaxation without any drowsiness. Sports Research Double-Strength L-Theanine supplement contains 200mg of Suntheanine per serving. Suntheanine is a highly-regarded, patented, pure form of L-theanine. L-theanine has been gaining a lot of prominence recently for its potential in treating anxiety symptoms, partly from famous individuals like Taylor Swift verifying its effectiveness at helping with anxiety and stage fright.

Green Tea or Black Tea for Anxiety

Green tea is one of the best sources of L-theanine and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a long time. Black tea or oolong tea are also good sources of L-theanine, especially if you are not a fan of supplements. Have a look at our recent article about Tea for anxiety to learn more.

Valerian Root extract for reducing nervous tension and stress
Herb Pharm Certified Organic Valerian Root Liquid Extract for Relaxation and Restful Sleep, Alcohol-Free Glycerite, 1 Ounce
Amount of Valerian Root per serving (mg)
NA
More Information
Oregon's Wild Harvest Non-GMO Organic Valerian Capsules Non Habit Forming Herbal Sleep Aid, Melatonin Free, 180Count
Amount of Valerian Root per serving (mg)
900mg
More Information
uVitals Choice
BulkSupplements Valerian Root Extract (500 Grams)
Valerian Root Supplement
Amount of Valerian Root per serving (mg)
600mg
More Information

Prepared from the root of the valerian plant, Valerian root has been used for centuries as a herbal remedy for tension & anxiety. Valerian root boosts GABA levels in the brain and our recommended source is Bulksupplements Valerian Root Extract that contains 600mg of Valerian root per serving. Oregon's Wild Harvest Organic Valerian supplement is organically sourced and non-GMO, making it a good alternative.

Niacin (vitamin B3) supplement to help fight anxiety
Nature's Bounty Flush Free Niacin 500 Mg, 240 Capsules (2 X 120 Count Bottles)
uVitals Choice
Rugby Niacin 500 mg 1000 Tabs
Slo Niacin 500mg 2 Packs each of 175 Tablets
Amount of Niacin per serving
400mg
500mg
500mg
Nature's Bounty Flush Free Niacin 500 Mg, 240 Capsules (2 X 120 Count Bottles)
Niacin Supplement
Amount of Niacin per serving
400mg
More Information
uVitals Choice
Rugby Niacin 500 mg 1000 Tabs
Niacin Supplement
Amount of Niacin per serving
500mg
More Information
Slo Niacin 500mg 2 Packs each of 175 Tablets
Niacin Supplement
Amount of Niacin per serving
500mg
More Information

Niacin (full name: niacinamide) is a significant component of two coenzymes, NAD and NADP, which are critical for the proper functioning of the brain. Niacin is involved in focus, memory, concentration, and how fast one can process information. Niacin also boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein which has been associated with elevated mood and productivity. Overall, Niacin is not just good for helping with anxiety symptoms, but can also help keep your thinking sharp and accurate during stressful situations. Rugby Niacin is our recommendation and contains 500mg of niacin per serving.

Taurine for boosting performance and reducing stress
Thorne Research - Taurine - Amino Acid Supplement to Support Heart, Nerve, and Liver Health - 90 Capsules
Nutricost Taurine Powder (500 Grams) - 250 Servings
uVitals Choice
Pure Encapsulations - Taurine 1,000 mg - Hypoallergenic Supplement to Support Brain, Heart, Gallbladder, Eyes, and Vascular System - 120 Capsules
Amount of Taurine per serving (mg)
500mg
2000mg
1000mg
Thorne Research - Taurine - Amino Acid Supplement to Support Heart, Nerve, and Liver Health - 90 Capsules
Taurine Supplement
Amount of Taurine per serving (mg)
500mg
More Information
Nutricost Taurine Powder (500 Grams) - 250 Servings
Taurine Supplement
Amount of Taurine per serving (mg)
2000mg
More Information
uVitals Choice
Pure Encapsulations - Taurine 1,000 mg - Hypoallergenic Supplement to Support Brain, Heart, Gallbladder, Eyes, and Vascular System - 120 Capsules
Taurine Supplement
Amount of Taurine per serving (mg)
1000mg
More Information

The amino acid taurine acts as a neurotransmitter and a neuroprotectant (a substance that aids the preservation of neuronal structure and function). Taurine is also an activator of GABA receptors in your brain, supporting a calm and stable mental state. Pure Encapsulations Taurine is our recommendation, a highly respected brand with great reviews and it contains 1000mg of Taurine per serving.


Relaxation techniques to reduce overall anxiety levels

When you start feeling anxious, your initial impulse might be to try and relax, but you can’t force relaxation. However, you can achieve a physiological state that allows relaxation to happen. Here are two relatively simple techniques can aid relaxation both in the short-term and in the long run.

Belly breathing is your built-in natural beta-blocker

Belly breathing, or diaphragmic breathing, is the process of taking long breaths in and out of your stomach, instead of your chest. This technique of breathing is taught as the foundation for most meditation or relaxation techniques. Belly breathing can benefit you in numerous ways, including lowering stress levels, regulating blood pressure, and controlling mind-chatter [11].

Belly breathing is one technique that you can use during a stressful situation for immediate relief. But, like most things, you’ll enjoy greater benefits if you make it a daily practice.

Mediation for reducing overall anxiety

Mediation is a practice where you focus your mind on a specific thought or activity (like breathing) to increase awareness of yourself and your environment. It is also called a mindfulness practice.

Meditation has several benefits when it is practiced consistently. For those suffering from performance anxiety, meditation can help by reducing overall stress and anxiety [12]. One of the most convenient ways to develop a meditation practice is through the Headspace app. Otherwise, an internet search can also provide you with numerous methods to get started.


Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is another relaxation technique that might be considered a natural beta-blocker. It is designed to help you develop a habit of being in a relaxed state, which would then carry over to situations in your day-to-day life, such as when you’re performing.

There’s some scientific evidence to back up the efficacy of the progressive muscle relaxation technique. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation concluded PMR is a valid treatment option for minimizing anxiety and depression in people hospitalized with leprosy [13].

PMR is a simple practice of alternating between tensed and relaxed muscles. To get started, begin with a few deep belly breaths and by relaxing your body. Then start tightening and releasing one muscle group at a time. Most practitioners recommend starting with your lower extremities, and then gradually moving up till you reach the face.

For best results, try to create a daily practice of 10 to 20 minutes in a quiet place.


Systematic desensitization as a natural alternative to beta-blockers

Developed by Joseph Wolpe, a behavioral therapy pioneer, systematic desensitization is a technique designed to treat various anxiety-related disorders. It is based on the classical conditioning premise that anything that is learned can be unlearned. There’s evidence to suggest that systematic desensitization might help in reducing performance-based anxiety [14].

The technique works by you imagining yourself in various fearful situations, typically a progression from the least to most fearful. In those imaginary situations, you practice relaxation techniques to compete with your anxiety and fear.

To combat stage fright, you would imagine that you’re about to deliver a performance. As you get anxious, you would practice deep breathing or another relaxation technique. Once you can remain calm in your imagination, you might be better equipped to face the situation in real life.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is designed to shift your mindset around challenges that you find overwhelming. It seeks to replace negative thought patterns by breaking them down to smaller parts and replacing them with positive ones.

When dealing with social anxiety disorders (SAD), CBT will seek to identify irrational thoughts and beliefs and replace them with realistic ones. For performance anxiety, CBT might focus on the following problem areas:

  • Limiting beliefs you have about your self-worth
  • Embarrassment over a bad past performance
  • Tendencies for excessive perfectionism
  • Fear of judgment from the audience

Your therapist will work with you and create a treatment plan based on your specific needs. CBT seems to work best if you believe it will work and put in the effort to make it a success. As a part of your treatment, you might be given homework assignments to help you make progress.

There’s evidence to suggest that CBT is effective in reducing anxiety in social situations, and that its benefits are long-lasting [17].

If you’re in the US, get in touch with the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists to find a qualified CBT practitioner near you. If possible, reach out to a therapist first and ask to hear more about their experience using CBT to assist people with stage fright and/or social anxiety.


Yoga for performance anxiety

Yoga is a practice that aims to integrate both your mind and body with physical poses (known as asanas), controlled breathing, and a period of intentional relaxation. Yoga originated from ancient India, but it has been growing in popularity worldwide over the last few decades. One survey found that around 7.5 percent of the U.S. population has tried yoga at least once.

According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, a regular yoga practice can decrease the negative impacts of an exaggerated stress response [15]. Since stress response plays a vital role in performance anxiety, yoga might be beneficial to those who experience stage fright.

Yoga also increases your heart rate variability (HRV), which is the measurement of change in the time between successive heartbeats. A higher HRV will help your body adapt better to stress, thereby blunting performance anxiety.

One 2009 study found that yoga, when combined with meditation, significantly reduced performance anxiety in young professional musicians [16].

To find a yoga studio close to you, search “your city+yoga studio” on Google. If there are no studios close by, there are plenty of free instructional videos on the internet. All you need is a mat, a glass of water, and you’re all set.

Final thoughts on Beta Blockers & natural alternatives

Having performance anxiety can be detrimental to your quality of life. It can keep you from doing the things you love, like performing in front of an audience. It can also affect your grades, or your career, if you suffer from excessive anxiety during a test or a presentation.

The good news is that you don’t need to live with performance anxiety. Ideally, you’re able to develop a relaxation or mindfulness practice to reduce your overall anxiety levels. If that’s not enough, you can seek out a therapist to help you with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or systematic desensitization to address any underlying causes of performance anxiety.

In the meantime, if you want to try beta-blockers as a temporary solution, be sure to speak with your doctor first.

beta blocker supplement for social anxiety and stage fright

Get the uVitals Anxiety & Stage-Fright supplement for FREE: we have developed & clinically tested a new All-natural Beta Blocker supplement: our unique anxiety & stage-fright support supplement that will let you stay calm, focused & think clearly no matter how much pressure you're under!

We want to get the anxiety & stage fright support supplement in the hands of users so you can provide feedback, that's why we are providing FREE samples to those who apply to our beta program by clicking here.


Products mentioned in this article

Agnit is the lead writer for uVitals. As an avid health and fitness enthusiast, he is passionate about writing content that helps people take control of their health to live happier, more productive lives. Someday, he plans to listen to his own advice and drink less coffee.

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3 thoughts on “Are there Natural Beta-Blockers that can help with Performance Anxiety & Stage Fright?”

  1. I was taking propranolol and Zoloft for nearly a year until I came across rhodiola rosea. Its worked better for me so far and without those annoying side effects. Obviously consult your doc first but I highly recommend it. The brand I use is Parker Naturals from amazon. Also, whatever brand you decide to get make sure it says “rhodiola rosea” not just “rhodiola”. Also yes, meditation is vital if you’ve got any type of anxiety.

    Reply
  2. Wow! I am not a performer but have just been diagnosed with PTSD with cyclothymia but feeling trapped by the system. This is just what I needed to read! For every ailment there is a plant…or amino acid. Thank you in abundance, there is a glimmer of hope!

    Reply

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