Serelax and Tranquilene are over-the-counter supplements that may help relieve anxiety or improve sleep quality.
I say “may” because supplements are unregulated in the US. Nutraceutical companies can imply health benefits without evidence in many cases.
Thus you should evaluate supplements with a critical eye. Take testimonials with a grain of salt since many online reviews are fabricated to promote the product. Often the placebo effect is at play, which is getting stronger over time, and biases people to report beneficial effects.
Our comparison of Serelax vs Tranquilene will begin with a discussion of the ingredients.
Serelax vs Tranquilene: Supplement Labels
There are some key differences here which I elaborate on below. Here’s the abbreviated comparison of Seralax verses Tranquiline:
- Ingredients. Seralax wins here. - Seralax has the following unique ingredients: kava, valerian, jujube, skullcap, roman chamomile, and Griffonia simplicifolia (bean) extract 1.
- Kava is potentially concerning because it has benzodiazepine-like effects and can rarely cause liver injury.
- As a purist, I view the B vitamins and calcium in Tranquiline as downsides of the product. Too much vitamin B6, for example, inhibits its own absorption paradoxically leading to deficiency.
- Seralax isn’t perfect either; it lacks magnesium, bacopa, and l-tryptophan. These three ingredients do seem to have an anti-anxiety effect.
- Transparency. Seralax wins here. Serelax discloses the milligram amounts of each quantity. Tranquilene discloses the amounts of the vitamins but everything else falls within the proprietary blend. I have trouble trusting proprietary blends because, well, why would I ingest something for my health without knowing its composition?
- Pricing. Marginally favors Tranquiline. Both supplements cost $0.54/capsule, but Tranquilene’s shipping is $2 cheaper.
- Popularity. Tie. This isn’t really a metric that reflects quality since a supplement could be less popular yet superior. Even so, I’ve included it because people like to know.
What Are Seralax and Tranquilene’s Effects?
These supplements are formulated to:
- Decrease anxiety, arousal, and the fight-or-flight response
- Help with sleep initiation
- Make stress more manageable
How Do They Affect Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illness in the United States. They tend to manifest in the mid-twenties. Symptoms of anxiety disorders run the gambit from mild to severe. People with anxiety disorders experience a disproportionate and persistent worrying or obsession about the impact of an event, an inability to relax, and difficulty concentrating .
When Should You Worry About Worrying?
What’s considered a normal level of anxiety vs pathological worry? Humans evolved to worry to anticipate and prepare for threatening situations. Back in the day, if you were worry-free you might be more likely to be eaten by a predator. In the 21st century, the “predator” has transformed into other kinds of threats like losing your job or being shunned by a social circle.
There are tons of strategies to minimize anxiety. But if your anxiety becomes unmanageable it’s best to consult a heath professional (e.g., psychiatrist or therapist).
Neurobiology of Anxiety
The neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) affect arousal, fear, and anxiety. Thus, many medications used to treat anxiety disorders target these neurotransmitters.
Typical medications for anxiety disorders includes:
- Anti-anxiety medications (also known as anxiolytics). - Benzodiazepines (like clonazepam)
- Antihistamines (like hydroxyzine)
- Atypical antipsychotics (off-label; last-resort)
- Antidepressants. Because there are many similarities in the neurochemical imbalances associated with anxiety and depression and antidepressants target similar processes to treat depression, antidepressants are also typically prescribed to reduce anxiety . - SSRIs (like citalopram)
- Tricyclics (like amitryptiline)
- MAOIs (like Phenelzine)
Supplements for Anxiety
In addition to prescription drugs, some supplements have been marketed for anxiety relief. There are some strong reasons to avoid taking prescription anti-anxiety medications unless you absolutely need them. Not to scare you, but here are some (possible) adverse effects:
- Benzodiazepines are associated with cognitive impairment
- Tricyclic antidepressants are anticholinergic and genotoxic
- Antihistamines can be profoundly sedating
- Atypical antipsychotics may shrink the brain
Hence, if you can manage mild anxiety with a supplement, that may be a better long-term solution than a prescription drug. The downside is that it’s difficult (if not impossible) for the average consumer to evaluate the efficacy of supplements since many are snake oil.
Tranquilene is a supplement devised by Tranquility Labs. It consists of a variety of ingredients associated with pain and anxiety relief. These include:
- Tryptophan – precursor to serotonin
- L-Theanine – decreases anxiety associated with caffeine and other stimulants
- Passionflower – documented anti-anxiety effects
- Ashwagandha – adaptogenic herb that may help relieve anxiety (e.g., by decreasing cortisol).
- GABA – doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier, so GABA is virtually worthless
- B complex
- Vitamin D3 – needed to synthesize serotonin
- Magnesium – blocks excess excitability which may help combat anxiety
- Niacinamide – another vasodilating B vitamin that can make you flush
Tryptophan is an amino acid, one of many protein building blocks, that is converted into a precursor of serotonin called 5-hydroxy-tryptophan in the brain .
Another amino acid analog, l-theanine, is extracted from green tea and may produce calm feelings and increase the activity of GABA and dopamine. These neurotransmitters that play a role in anxiety and mood .
Passionflower has been used for centuries to reduce anxiety, stress, and problems related to sleep .
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry, is a plant that has historically been used in calming serums. Similar to passion flower, Ashwagandha may also improve mood and sleep quality .
Brahmi, or Bacopa Monnieri, is a herb and light sedative that has been used to enhance cognitive function. Bacopa Monnieri may also have anti-anxiety properties and reduce stress.
B complex refers to the 8 B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12). Vitamin B is involved in metabolism as well as serotonin production and has been implicated in reducing anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, irritability, and emotional instability. Niacinamide is another form of vitamin B3 that also contributes to the conversion of tryptophan into the serotonin precursor .
Vitamin D3 may indirectly contribute to alleviating stress by assisting in the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin, specifically in the brain. Calcium and Magnesium are also included in the formula since deficiencies in calcium may contribute to anxiety-related conditions such as panic attacks while magnesium deficiency is linked to anxiety and insomnia .
Dosage of Tranquilene
Tranquility Labs states that Tranquilene instills initial feelings of well-being shortly (20 to 30 minutes) after ingestion.
The manufacturers suggest using the product for at least 3 to 4 months to allow the client’s body to adjust to the supplement and evaluate whether it’s helpful. The company also claims that there is a benefit to taking the supplement in that there are very few side effects associated with it compared to medications while potentially providing effects similar to some SSRIs.
They recommend two 500mg capsules of Tranquilene be taken with water, ideally 20-30 minutes before eating. One capsule should be taken in the morning and the other should be taken in the afternoon. Additional capsules may not necessarily be dangerous, but may increase drowsiness or sedation.
Another supplement designed to relieve stress and anxiety is Serelax. Serelax has many of the same ingredients as Tranquilene including GABA, L-Theanine, and passion flower. However, it also has unique ingredients such as:
- roman chamomile
- and Griffonia simplicifolia (bean) extract 1
Kava is a shrub that grows in the Pacific Islands. It was used in older Pacific Island cultures to make a drink that was thought to improve mood and increase relaxation. Compounds in the plant called kavalactones may also have some anxiety-relieving effects .
Valerian is a flowering plant with roots that may contain compounds that reduce feelings of irritability and edginess. It may also help improve social anxiety, feelings of depression and increase relaxation .
Jujube, also known as red date, Chinese date, Korean date or Indian date, arises from trees in South Asia. The fruit is commonly used for multiple purposes including to reduce stress and irritability as well as physical signs of anxiety such as muscle tension and spasm .
Another ingredient, skullcap, is a tall flowering plant that has been used in ancient cultures as a calming agent .
Roman Chamomile, also known as English chamomile, is another plant containing a mild sedative that has been used to reduce muscle tension and feelings of anxiousness .
Finally, Giffonia simplicifolia beans which contain serotonin and have been used to treat anxiety and depression . Like GABA, serotonin itself does not cross the blood-brain barrier and so is unlikely to directly affect brain function.
Serelax provides anxiolytic effects by providing a plethora of substances that have been linked to neurotransmitters that influence feelings of anxiety including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. The manufacturer argues that the formula can also decrease muscle tension due to stress and anxiety.
Dosage of Serelax
A dosage of two Serelax capsules per day is suggested by the manufacturers. They suggest that beneficial effects can be realized within a week of daily use.
Tranquilene and Serelax are two supplements containing several ingredients that promote anxiolysis, relaxation, and feelings of well-being. While the ingredients may differ between the supplements, they both may provide anxiety-reducing effects. Further research is needed to substantiate their health claims.
Both products are similar, however, I would lean toward using Seralax. It’s a more established brand and has fewer, more anxiety-specific ingredients.
. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024919/. Accessed August 5, 2016.
. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024920/. Accessed September 6, 2016.
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