Closest Thing To Xanax Over The Counter (OTC)

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#1 Xanax Alternative – Phenibut
#2 Xanax Alternative – Kratom
#3 Xanax Alternative – Kava Kava Extract

There’s no doubt about it, Xanax (and Ativan, for that matter) is one hell of a drug.

I’ve tried it myself a few times, and it is 100% the most effective thing out there that basically stops anxiety in its tracks.

It’s prescribed to literally millions of Americans, and is seen as being one of the most widely used (and abused) anti-anxiety medications in existence.

In fact, last year alone there were 44 million prescriptions for Xanax written, which is about 16 MILLION more then the next closest competitor, Ativan.

anti anxiety medication statistics

However, the potential for addiction and dependence on Xanax and other anxiety medications like Lorazepam (Ativan), Valium, Klonopin, and Librium is HUGE.  There are literally THOUSANDS of stories of people being addicted to it, and the withdrawal from it can be an absolute nightmare.

There’s also a wide range of side effects associated with Xanax use, including drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, changes in libido, and loss of coordination.

xanax otc alternatives

Lastly, Benzodiazepines have steadily been on the rise as a major contributor to drug overdose deaths in the US over the last 10 years.


While the death rate is nowhere NEAR those of Opioids, it’s still troubling.

Related Article: 3 Best Natural (and LEGAL) Hydrocodone Alternatives

Couple that with the fact that the only way (legally) to obtain it is if you’re prescribed it by a licensed physician, and that dwindles your possibilities of getting your hands on it in the first place.

In the state where I live (Florida), possession of Xanax (or any other benzo for that matter) is a 3rd degree felony, and the penalty carries:

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to 5 years probation
  • Up to a $5,000 fine
  • 2 year drivers license suspension

Not good…

What if there was something over the counter that you could take that would mimic the effects of Xanax, all while being completely legal to buy without a prescription.

Would you try it?

Well, the reason I’m writing this right now is there in fact ARE all natural pills and supplements out there that work very closely to Xanax.

If you run a search on Google for all natural alternatives to Xanax, you’re typically presented with the following remedies on a few different websites:

  • Valerian Root
  • Chamomile
  • Green Tea
  • Lemon Balm
  • Passion Flower
  • L-Theanine

google search result for natural alternatives to xanax

One site, which ranks very highly towards to top of the search results for the phrase “over the counter xanax” lists a product called ZenRX as the “best Xanax alternative”.

google search result for otc xanax alternatives

Yet, when you look at the reviews of “ZenRX” on Amazon, you’ll see comments like:

  • “Waste of money”
  • “Does not work”
  • “Useless”

zenrx reviews on amazon

No surprise there.  I actually vaguely remember testing out ZenRX quite a ways back, and noting the same sentiment.

These are in NO WAY close to the effectiveness of Xanax or other anti anxiety medications.

You’re looking for REAL relief, and the below products WILL provide it.

Let’s review a few of the more potent ones below.  These are all ranked in terms of effectiveness, and I outline exactly how you should be taking each to get the best possible results.

I have personally tested ALLof the below mentioned otc Xanax alternatives, and KNOW they work.

I want to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that the following are NOT drugs.  They haven’t been reviewed or tested by the FDA, and they make no claims to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

My #1 Xanax OTC Alternative – Phenibut

I first discovered Phenibut when I was researching all natural anti-anxiety supplements.  I was contacted by the makers of a product called Phenibut XT, and they were looking for someone to test out there product and write a review.

Since that’s pretty much what I do, I had them send me over a couple of bottles.

absorb your health phenibut
My preferred source for Phenibut, from

I don’t typically suffer from anxiety, and I’m not really socially awkward.  I’m the kind of guy who’s a bit shy upfront, but once I get to know you I can be pretty outgoing.

With that said, I do have some moments of anxiety / jittery feelings (pretty much everyone does, right?), usually when I load up on caffeine or pre workout supplements.

I first tried Phenibut XT by itself to gauge it’s effectiveness, dosing with 2 capsules, which is about 1 gram.

Unlike with Xanax (which starts working in minutes), it took a REALLY long time to kick in.

the effects of phenibut in minutes

Realistically speaking, it was literally somewhere in the range of 2 – 3 hours for the full effects to kick in.

But once it did, the effects were ENORMOUS.

It virtually eliminated all feelings of anxiety, lifted my mood, and increased my confidence.

It does all of this without causing the typical sedation / fogginess that happens when you take Xanax.

It also works as a very potent aphrodisiac believe it or not (more on that later).

What is Phenibut and How Does It Work? (A short chemistry lesson)

According to prior research, Phenibut is a central depressant and analog of the inhibitory neurotransmitter y-aminobutyric acid, which is a fancy technical term for GABA.

chemical structure of gaba

When you drink alcohol or take a Xanax, GABA is released into the brain, making you feel less anxious.  This is one of the main reasons why alcohol is use by millions to “take the edge off” when you’re feeling stressed out.

how alcohol and gaba works to calm you down

You’ll find GABA in plenty of other supplements, usually in stress relief and anti-anxiety products like Serelax, Tranquilene and Kavinace.

The problem is, GABA on its own does NOT cross the blood brain barrier in significant quantities.

Because Phenibut is an analog of GABA, what it does is it adds a ring around the GABA, which basically binds to the GABA-B receptor and activates it.

how phenibut adds a ring around gaba

In short, it works very similarly to the effects of alcohol.

Unlike drugs like Xanax, Alcohol, and Lorazepam, Phenibut does NOT affect your cognitive function.  It doesn’t make you lose focus, concentration, or have any impact on short or long term memory.

It basically reduces your anxiety, all while keeping you alert and focused.

phenibut as an alternative to xanax

In fact, when combined with a stimulant like DMAA, Caffeine, or Ephedrine, the effects are very similar to that of Adderall, minus the anxiety producing effects that come with taking Adderall.

Related Article:  5 BEST Over The Counter Adderall Alternatives

It does this because Phenibut primarily affects the GABA-B receptor, which takes a bit longer to kick in, but seems to last longer and not affect coordination and concentration.

The biggest downside with Phenibut is that you can’t (or shouldn’t) take it everyday.

The reason behind this is, just like with drugs like Xanax and Lorazepam, it seems to build a tolerance quite rapidly.

In addition, it also has the potential for abuse, addiction, and dependency, so you should limit use to just once or twice a week.

How Should I Take It?

On the days you decide to use Phenibut, you should start low and slow.  By that I mean you should start with a low dosage and space out your doses by about 1 – 2 hours.

how to take phenibut infographic

A low dose would be considered somewhere in the range of 250 – 500 mg.

The easiest and most accurate way to measure out doses like this would be with a small scale.

measuring phenibut on a micro scale
I use this one, which you can find on Amazon

Be sure that you take it on a completely empty stomach, as it doesn’t seem to work as well on a full stomach.

Because it takes so long to “kick in”, don’t expect it to start working in 20 – 30 minutes like Xanax does.  It takes a LOT longer.

If after 1 or 2 hours you’re still not feeling anything, take another 250 – 500 mg.

Repeat this process until you reach the desired effect.

I would refrain from taking any more than 2 grams of Phenibut, as the effects start to come on too strong at doses in that range.


  • The absolute BEST supplement I’ve ever tested to lower anxiety
  • Modestly priced


  • Takes a long time to kick in
  • Can’t take it everyday
  • Has the potential for withdrawal if you take it too often
  • Generally speaking you won’t find it in stores

My Personal Recommendation

I personally recommend the Absorb Your Health brand of Phenibut (  It’s the highest quality and most effective Phenibut I’ve ever tested, and I’ve tested 10+ brands over the years.

#2 Alternative – Kratom

Kratom is a plant based substance that comes from the Coffee family, and has been used by people in the Southeast Asian region to help improve mood, give you energy, and lower anxiety.

Kratom comes from 3 different regions: Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

alternative to xanax for anxiety

Recently (as in like the past 15 – 20 years or so), Kratom has had quite the following here in the US.

It’s unknown exactly how many people use it, but the vast majority of Americans have never even heard of the substance.

Kratom is widely believed to help people get off of opioid medications like oxycodone, vicodin, Hydrocodone, and Percocet, and is actually a very suitable alternative for these medications.

It’s effects on anxiety have never really been studied in a clinical setting, but anecdotal reports are very favorable to the substance.

And I can personally vouch for this.

There’s a couple of things you need to be aware of with Kratom.

1.) Dose Size

When you take a low dose of Kratom (usually 1 – 3 grams), it tends to be more of a stimulating and energetic experience.

If you take a HIGH dose (4+ grams), it tends to be more sedating and euphoric.

As an alternative to Xanax, then I would recommend using a higher dose of Kratom.  Some people have reported a worsening of their anxiety when using small doses.

2.) Your Body Chemistry

Everyone (including myself) seems to react differently to different strains and dose sizes.  Some may get an anti-anxiety experience from a strain like Maeng Da, and others may get a totally different result.

It’s best to buy a small batch of 4 – 5 different extracts and test them out individually to get the best results.

– There IS The Potential For Withdrawal

I’ve only used Kratom for a few months now, and typically I will take it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  The few times I stopped taking it I basically felt like I had a cold.

The withdrawal effect has been likened to caffeine withdrawal.  There’s a few things you can do to keep you from getting withdrawals in the first place:

  1. Use it sparingly, maybe 2 – 3 times per week
  2. Cycle it on a 3 week on, 1 week off period
  3. Don’t dose more than once a day, usually in the morning

It seems like the vast majority of people that end up getting withdrawals from Kratom take it everyday, all day, in relatively high doses.

I wouldn’t compare the withdrawal to the same of Xanax (not even CLOSE), but I’ve hear it can be somewhat uncomfortable.

How To Take It And Which Should I Use?

I kind of already mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating.  It’s difficult for me to say “take THISamount of THISstrain and THISis the effect you’ll get”.

Everyone’s body is different, and will respond differently to various types of strains and dose sizes.

I have tested a wide variety of Kratom vendors over the last 8 months or so, and for me the best one was a company called Coastline Kratom.

Their most effective strains at helping with anxiety seems to be:

  • Horned –  By FAR my favorite.  Red Vein, White Vein, doesn’t matter, they’re ALL great at relieving anxiety.
  • Bali – Either the Red or White will help DRAMATICALLY with anxiety.
  • Borneo – A close 2nd to Horned, I like to rotate between the two.
  • Red Vein Thai and Bali – These 2 can help to relieve anxiety in most.
  • Green Malay – Not my favorite, but will get the job done.

Note:  You can buy all of these from my preferred vendor,

kratom that works like xanax

If you’re just starting out with Kratom as an alternative to Xanax, I would suggest you stick to a low dose for the first few tries.  Remember, a low dose is typically in the 1 – 2 gram range, but I’ve heard from guys that have used as little as 500 mg getting results.

Although the effect is probably very minimal with a dose that size.

Test it out and see how you feel.  If you’re not feeling anything, then gradually increase the dose by 1 – 3 grams every 1/2 hour until you reach the desired effect.

There’s one thing that’s undeniable…the taste is pretty bad.

It’s technically a “tea”, but it doesn’t taste like your grandmothers iced tea, that’s for sure.

Typically what I do is mix it with lemon lime Gatorade G2, but really the only reason I do this is because it’s easy to mix in a gatorade bottle, and I’ve sort of become used to the taste.

There are some ways to mask Kratoms taste, but that’s for another article.


  • It’s VERY effective at helping with anxiety
  • Can also provide feelings of euphoria, improved mood, and pain reduction


  • The taste is pretty horrible
  • There is the potential for withdrawal, but this is mitigated by using it responsibly
  • You can’t buy it in brick and mortar stores

Potential Kratom Ban

One HUGE downside that requires some more clarification is that the DEA announced back in August of 2016 that they intend to place Kratom as a Schedule 1 Drug.

This would literally place it in the same category as Heroin, Marijuana, and other Schedule 1 drugs.

Yeah…it’s THAT GOOD.

The original date it was to be officially banned was October 1, 2016, but there has been an absolutely ENORMOUS outpouring of public support in favor of keeping Kratom legal.

And you know what?  The DEA actually BACKED Down!

The DEA announced they were rescinding their plans to ban Kratom, and basically passed the ball on to the FDA to make the call on their end.

However, the FDA released a statement in November, 2017, effectively issuing a public health advisory on Kratom.

It’s not clear where this will be headed, but if you’re on the fence about trying it out I would suggest you do so quickly!

Visit the official Coastline Kratome site here:

#3 Alternative – Kava Root Extract

kava as an alternative to xanaxKava has been used for literally thousands of years.  The vast majority of Kava you’ll find in stores like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and GNC is absolute junk.

I know because I’ve used them.

The reason behind this is because practically every kava supplement out there uses kava roots.

Most of the REAL effects come from the juice that’s located in the center of the plant, which virtually no supplement contains.

The best Kava extract that I’ve used is from a company called Happy Hippo.

Their Kava extract is without a doubt the most effective all natural alternative to lorazepam you’ll find in the market.

You can visit their website at

How To Take It

Unlike with Kratom, you generally have to take VERY large dose to get the anti-anxiety effects you’re looking for.

When I say large dose I mean like 10 – 15 grams of the stuff, as opposed to Kratom which can be dosed at as little as 1 – 2 grams to feel the effects.

Generally speaking, I mix it with water, and the taste is not terrible.


  • It’s very safe to take, people have been doing so for thousands of years
  • There’s no potential for addiction or withdrawal


  • Can and most likely WILL make your tongue feel numb
  • You need to take a relatively large dose to feel the effects
  • The effects are typically short-lived, usually lasting only an hour to an hour and a half
  • According to the FDA, the use of kava has been linked with liver damage, especially when used with alcohol.

    Heavy use of kava may also result in heart issues, eye issues, and yellowing of the skin. (Source)


If you’re looking for a safe AND effective over the counter Xanax alternative, these are DEFINITELY your best options.  I’ve done a ton of research on the subject and tested dozens of anti-anxiety supplements, and the vast majority are garbage.

Not with these…

They WILL work for you.  If you have any specific questions on any of this, scroll below and leave a comment, or shoot me an email.  I’m always here to help!

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User Questions and Answers

Where can i get this over the counter like type of stuff ? What stores? -

You can order Phenibut at this link: Rob

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8 out of 13 people found this question helpful.

Does Kratam show up on a drug test? -

There's not a simple yes or no answer to this question. It won't show up on many drug screens, but some alkaloids in some strains may show up. There is also a specific test for kratom that can be given.- Rob

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Author: Rob Miller

Rob Miller founded over 7 years ago, and has been the chief editor ever since. He has a diploma in Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor, and worked at GNC for 3 years. He KNOWS supplements, both inside and out. Rob currently resides in Jupiter, FL, with his wife of 4 years.  Learn more about him in his Bio here. Follow him on Twitter , Facebook, LinkedIn, or find him on Google +.

Medical Reviewer: Helen Okoye, MD

Dr. Helen Okoye is an American Public Health Physician/Health Care Executive/Researcher/Entrepreneur with a Doctor of Medicine Degree (MD), an MBA in Healthcare Management, and a Masters in Epidemiology/Public Health). Her specific responsibilities for Supplement Critique including reviewing previously published articles for accuracy and relevancy. Her expert opinion was featured on NBC News for the President’s physical exam. Learn more about Dr. Okoye here. Follow here on Twitter and Instagram.