Help For Back-To-School Jitters

Help For Back-To-School Jitters

By Andrea Bartels CNP NNCP RNT
Registered Nutritional Therapist

22 Aug 2023

Help For Back-To-School Jitters

Are you or your child feeling nervous about the upcoming start to the school year? It’s natural to feel jittery about the return to more rigid schedules, the pressure to achieve, in advancing to a new school, and in the hopes to be socially accepted.  Even the “ghosts” of last year –like  bullies, difficult subjects, or an unpopular teacher—can induce anxiety. Parents can experience anxiety too, when their child is going to school for the first time or going back to school with a newly diagnosed allergy, for instance. Whatever the reason for anxiousness, there is support that can help you both feel better. 

Consider Options Carefully

The current conventional support for anxiety typically includes a prescription for a pharmaceutical medication.  There are 4 main types of drugs that doctors prescribe for anxiety, each with documented side effects:

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin-reuptake inhibitors)

Examples: Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Cipralex (escitalopram), Paxil (paroxetine)

How they Work:  These increase the neurotransmitter serotonin, which induces relaxation.

Side effects: Dry mouth, nervousness, insomnia, drowsiness, weight gain, dizziness, headaches, nausea and diarrhea, sexual dysfunction (reduced sexual interest, desire, performance, and/or satisfaction); may increase vitamin B2 requirements


SNRIs (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors)

Examples: Effexor (venlafaxine), Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine)

How they work:  These increase serotonin and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine influences heart rate, breathing and blood flow to the muscles.

Side effects: Dry mouth, nausea, nervousness, insomnia, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, sexual dysfunction, loss of appetite, agitation



Examples: Rivotril (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam)

How they work: These slow down brain activity by increasing the neurotransmitter GABA.

Side Effects:  Dizziness, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, slurred speech, muscle weakness, loss of co-ordination and balance, constipation, delusions/hallucinations, skin reactions, euphoria, restlessness/agitation, irritability and aggressiveness

When used to help with insomnia, they can cause ‘hangover’ effects the morning after.

Long term: Addiction, withdrawal, problems learning or concentrating

Risks: Dangerous when combined with alcohol



Examples: Tenormin (atenolol), Inderal (propranolol), Monocor (bisoprolol), Sectral (acebutolol), Lopresor (metoprolol)

How they work: These decrease norepinephrine (adrenaline) in the heart and circulatory system.

Note: The most common use of beta-blockers in medicine is to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, decreasing the workload of the heart, reducing chest pain (angina) in those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For those prone to panic attacks they can reduce the uncomfortable physical responses to stress.

Side effects: Fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, depression, heart failure.


Kids and Anxiety Drugs: Are They Safe?

Of all these medications, only the SSRIs and SNRIs are typically used to treat anxiety in children.  Ironically, in the United States anti-depressant drugs are labeled with a FDA ‘black box’ warning about a risk of suicidal ideation and behaviour in those under the age of 25.  While the impact of this warning continues to be hotly debated since its inception nearly 20 years ago, it’s concerning that a black box warning is one step away from a drug being deemed decisively unsafe for a certain segment of the population.

Once you add up all the potential risks and side effects of each type of psychiatric medication, it can leave you wondering about safer options. What are they?


The Nutritional Foundation for Stress Support

Anxiety is a manifestation of stress, which raises nutritional requirements due to the increase in metabolic rate that stress produces. So it’s important to be well-nourished with the key nutrients that stress resilience demands.

Magnesium: Magnesium is essential to muscle and nervous system function yet at least 80 percent of the population is deficient.  Getting enough magnesium supports healthy energy and blood sugar levels, mood, relaxation and sleep.  Supplementation is the easiest way to fulfil daily requirements.

Since 2002, Pure Lab’s Magnesium Glycinate has been the foundational magnesium product for better absorption and bowel tolerance. Each capsule and each scoop of powder contains 165 milligrams of elemental magnesium. For dosing instructions, please see the label.

B Complex: B vitamins are also depleted by stress, yet there are vital in myriad ways to the body’s functions. Pure Lab’s Slow-Release BioActive B Complex contains research-supported ratios of biologically active B vitamins with the sustained benefits of a slow-release formulation. Adults take 1 capsule with their first solid meal of the day, and may repeat at lunchtime.


L-Theanine: The “Cherry on Top”

A comprehensive stress support plan includes emotional support, quality sleep, optimal nutrition, and sometimes, therapy.  Although L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid, it provides excellent, safe and complementary support to anyone who’s struggling to find a sense of calm.   


L-Theanine: Safe, Non-toxic, Non-habit forming

L-Theanine is the secret ingredient for stress that was first discovered in green tea. It helps calm the busy, over-thinking brain without sedatives or stimulants.

Discovered in 1949, l-theanine balances the neurotransmitters serotonin, GABA and dopamine, while promoting alpha brain waves responsible for a simultaneous feeling of alertness and relaxation.   At the same time, l-theanine inhibits the effects of the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine.  The result is a calm, focused mind that is more resilient against stress, a better sleep and a better mood. 

Unlike pharmaceuticals and complex natural herbal formulas taken for anxiousness and sleep, Pure Lab’s L-Theanine is a one-ingredient product promoting relaxation without sedation. It is extremely versatile; it can be used day or night. Unlike the tea, Pure Lab’s L-Theanine contains only l-theanine and is caffeine-free.

L-theanine is a safe and supportive addition to prescription medication.  Whether a person is medicated or not, l-theanine has an excellent safety profile for children and adults alike. 

It can be taken several times during waking hours in preparation for a restful sleep.

Especially indicated for those with a ‘busy brain’, l-theanine calms racing thoughts, and when taken at bedtime, may reduce incidence of early wake-ups.  If needed it may be combined with Pure Lab’s Magnesium Glycinate or our Magnesium Glycinate+Melatonin formula.   Best of all, l-theanine may be taken at any time and is safe to use preventatively, so there’s no need to reserve it for the onset of a stressful occasion.  

Pure Lab offers regular, slow-release and lower-dose chewable formats to suit your needs:

Pure Lab’s L-Theanine Chewable is our fastest-acting format of l-theanine. At 125 milligrams per tablet, is a rapid-release, sugar-free chewable that’s ideal for children but popular with all ages who experience acute (i.e. sudden or temporary) stress.

Pure Lab’s Slow-Release L-Theanine provides 200 milligrams of l-theanine per capsule, in a sustained release formulation. In other words, it’s designed to release steady levels of l-theanine to the bloodstream for mood and focus support throughout the day.

For those desiring a higher potency, Pure Lab’s L-Theanine provides 250 milligrams of l-theanine per capsule. 

Both Pure Lab’s L-Theanine and Slow-Release L-Theanine are suitable for the chronic stress of everyday life, throughout the school year.



Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. Published 2017 Apr 26. 

Bujalski, Ashley. “Beta Blockers for Anxiety –Benefits, Intake and Side Effects of Beta-Blockers  2023.”, August 3, 2023.

Canadian Association for Mental Health. “Anti-anxiety Medications (Benzodiazepines)”. Accessed online August 8, 2023.

Evans, M., McDonald, A.C., Xiong, L. et al. A Randomized, Triple-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study to Investigate the Efficacy of a Single Dose of AlphaWave® L-Theanine on Stress in a Healthy Adult Population. Neurol Ther 10, 1061–1078 (2021).

Government of Canada. “Benzodiazepines”.  Accessed online August 8, 2023.

Harvard Health Online . “Ask the doctor: Side effects of anxiety medications.” August 1, 2012.

Heart and Stroke Foundation (Canada). “Beta-blockers”. Accessed online August 9, 2023.

Lewis JE, Tiozzo E, Melillo AB, et al. The effect of methylated vitamin B complex on depressive and anxiety symptoms and quality of life in adults with depressionISRN Psychiatry. 2013;2013:621453. Published 2013 Jan 21.

Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR. The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med ev. 2011;16(4):348-354.

Mayo Clinic. “Antidepressants for children and teens”. Accessed online August 9, 2023.

Miller, Caroline. “Guide to Medications for Anxiety in Children.” Child Mind Institute. Accessed online August 9, 2023.

Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Accessed October 25th, 2021.

Pittman, Jennifer.  “What you need to know about SNRIs”. July 12, 2023.

Pittman, Jennifer. “What you need to know about SSRIs”. July 12, 2023.

Szeleszczuk ?, Fr?czkowski D. Propranolol versus Other Selected Drugs in the Treatment of Various Types of Anxiety or Stress, with Particular Reference to Stage Fright and Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderInt J Mol Sci. 2022;23(17):10099. Published 2022 Sep 3.

Williams J, Kellett J, Roach PD, McKune A, Mellor D, Thomas J, Naumovski N. l-Theanine as a Functional Food Additive: Its Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Beverages. 2016; 2(2):13.

Blog Post Image

Improve Recovery From Strenuous Exercise


Blog Post Image

Supplementation in a World of UPFs


Replenish Your Body

See how you can benefit from our unique line of products.

Find a Store

Find our products at your nearest PLV retailer.