The reality TV series on streaming platform Hulu called ‘The Kardashians‘ got off to an interesting start last year, as during episode two (premiering on 14 April 2022) viewers got to see insight about the Kardashian-Jenner family’s struggles with anxiety.
During the episode Khloé Kardashian — entrepreneur, American media personality, socialite and model — revealed how social media scrutiny and being in the public eye leads causes her to regularly suffer from crippling anxiety. We see how the 37 year old Khloé struggles in the run up to an appearance on The Late Show with James Corden. Her mother and manager Kris Jenner then offers her a daughter a beta-blocker to help calm her nerves.
Fans of the show and the family were quite shocked by the mothers actions, and urged Khloé Kardashian to seek professional medical assistance for her anxiety struggles.
As curious bystanders with some knowledge of beta blockers (see our comprehensive guide covering beta blockers for anxiety here), we thought it would be interesting to investigate beta blockers when primarily used for anxiety purposes, and see if the fans concerns were warranted (Spoiler: generally speaking, we always recommend seeking assistance from a medical professional before using any prescription medication).
Here’s an in-depth video summary covering Khloé Kardashian’s (and other celebrities) use of beta blockers:
Khloe Kardashian & Beta Blockers Key Takeaways
Without revealing the whole article, here are the most interesting & useful takeways about Khloe Kardashian & Beta Blockers:
- Khloé Kardashian is an entrepreneur, American media personality, socialite and model. She's also one of the stars on the Hulu reality TV show - The Kardashians.
- Episode two of the reality TV show, airing in April 2022, featured Khloe facing crippling anxiety before going on a late night talk show, and her mother & manager Kris Jenner offering her a beta-blocker drug to help with her anxiety.
- Other celebrities like Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry & Whitney Cummings all use beta blockers for anxiety, making use of the heart medications ability to block adrenaline in the body.
What Are Beta Blockers?
A 1965 article in a magazine called The Lancet explored the use of Beta Blockers for helping with stage fright & performance anxiety, and since then there have been musicians, actors, public speakers, surgeons, and people of all kinds who have used beta blockers to help with their anxiety symptoms.
The late Blair Tindall, famous Oboist and author of the book (and following TV show) Mozart in the Jungle, put it best in a Guardian article from 2008 :
Beta blockers are not recreational drugs. They do not affect cognitive abilities, but instead block adrenaline-like chemicals in the human system. For a violinist, this means performance can feel like practice, with no bouncing bow or slippery fingers.
This is a pretty good summary of beta blockers. Called beta-adrenergic blocking agents in full, 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 whenever you are in a stressful situation .
Doctors typically prescribe beta-blockers for a variety of reasons, including abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure, angina, glaucoma, and other (mostly cardiac) conditions .
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How Do Beta Blockers Work?
To fully grasp why beta-blockers can help someone like Khloé Kardashian with their anxiety symptoms, let’s look at how beta-blockers work within the body.
Beta-blockers relax the load on your cardiovascular system by blocking the effects of adrenaline, a stress-related hormone. Adrenaline binds to adrenergic receptors in the heart, called beta receptors . As a result, the heart has to pump blood with greater force, which causes your blood pressure and heart rate to go up.
So beta blockers… block the effects of adrenaline and prevent the hormone from binding to the beta receptors in the heart. Consequently, the heart can return to its regular workload, and blood pressure can stabilize. This explains why beta-blockers are normally prescribed for people with high blood pressure and hypertension.
Why Do Celebrities & Performers Use Beta Blockers For Anxiety?
Performers and those in the public eye like Khloé Kardashian tend to take beta-blockers “off-script” because it is too much adrenaline that is responsible for their anxiety symptoms. Beta blockers block adrenaline, and so it follows that beta blockers = freedom from anxiety (??).
When you feel anxious about something, it’s to be expected that you’ll experience some level of stress. For most, you’ll experience an adrenaline rush as a part of that stress response. In most cases, this stress response is no big deal, and some can even use it to their advantage in order to up the intensity of their performance.
But if you experience performance anxiety or social anxiety, what’s happening is that stress response goes too far. You experience a much greater effect of the adrenaline hormone, which causes your heart rate to skyrocket, along with other symptoms of stage fright and anxiety.
Since beta-blockers block the effects of adrenaline, they also prevent you from experiencing the physical symptoms of that same anxiety. Remaining physically calm has an overall calming effect, which then allows you to get through your engagement and keep your stress response at bay .
Over The Counter Beta Blocker Names
There are numerous beta-blockers available on the market, but here are some of the most common ones available over the counter (and their US brand names).
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Metoprolol (Lopressor)
- Acebutolol (Sectral)
- Carvedilol (Coreg)
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Nebivolol (Bystolic)
- Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
Propranolol is the most popular medication when it comes to people using beta-blockers for anxiety symptoms . There are also other medications that people commonly use off-script, like Gabapentin, Clonodine and Depakote, but these are not technically beta-blockers so they won’t be covered in this article.
It is critical to remember that everyone responds to medications and treatments differently. If you’re considering using beta-blockers for anxiety, or any other condition, be sure to consult a medical professional before you begin.
Which Is The Best Beta Blocker For Anxiety?
As mentioned, Propranolol is the most prescribed beta-blocker in the US and the most popular out of variants (Metoprolol, Carvedilol, Bisoprolol, etc). It’s impossible to verify that the purpose of the majority of these prescriptions is to ‘manage anxiety symptoms’ – but it’s safe to say that at least a portion of these prescriptions are for anxiety purposes.
Propranolol is best used for short-term relief from performance anxiety symptoms. It can help bring your heart rate back to normal, and reduce sweating and trembling. This is what makes it so popular among performers like singers, musicians & public speakers; its minimal side-effects, when used only occasionally before a big performance, speech, or audition .
Atenolol is another popular beta-blocker that is used for performance anxiety & stage fright, and is typically longer-lasting than Propranolol. So, for a long day of performances, Atenolol (Tenormin) might be the better beta blocker for stage fright.
Other Celebrities Known To Use Beta Blockers To Help With Performance Anxiety
In recent history, several celebrities have talked openly about their use of beta blockers for anxiety purposes. Here are a few of the most popular cases:
Part way through a global tour, 20 years old (at the time) Shawn Mendes stated that he was finding his continuous performances difficult during a Capital FM interview . The Canadian singer admitted to getting so nervous for his live shows that he “needed medication to calm him for over a year” .
The Canadian singer opened up about his struggles with anxiety and pre-show nerves , when telling fans:
As a performer you get very nervous, sometimes you freak out and things can become a lot for you. And there’s medicine and things you can do to help and I meditate and I do a lot of things.
There’s a medicine called beta blockers and basically it’s a very calm medicine, but what it does is it slows your heart rate down so you can be less stressed out and calm down and breathe, but nevertheless it’s medicine and I want you guys to know that for the last year I’ve been taking the medicine that’s been slowing down my heart rate so that I can be calm on stage.
Here’s the moment on Twitter where Shawn Mendes first publicly talked about his beta blocker and anxiety struggles during a performance:
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 6, 2019
Katy Perry is a singer, songwriter & TV personality who regularly hosts the massively popular American Idol show. She’s performed in front of millions of adoring fans and is known for her mesmerizing, electric performances .
During an interview with Cosmoplitan magazine, the singer talked about her use of beta blockers to help with her anxiety and stage fright issues. During the interview she talked about how she “had a crippling fear that she would let everyone down, and so she used [beta blockers] to overcome performance anxiety” .
Katy Perry made it abundantly clear that her stage fright does not come from lack of preparation, but from a fear that “fans will rush the stage or that I’ll vomit on stage during a performance”
The singer feels intense pressure to ensure that she fends off competition from rivals in the music industry :
“I have to take beta blockers [before each show], I get so nervous. [I think] that I have to get through this; I can’t let these people down, but mostly I can’t let myself down. I’ve been given a great opportunity and there are 500 bitches behind me who will snatch my weave off my head if I don’t kick-ball-change through this two-hour show.”
Whitney Cummings is comedian, actress, and screenwriter recognized for her prolific output and pin-sharp comedic timing. Many recognize her unique tall and lean frame and emphatic voice that quickly creates strong connections with her fans .
In a recent interview, Whitney Cummings talked about her chronic migraine issues and how it led to her discovering beta-blockers that helped manage her anxiety… that would come with her worry about said migraines :
[The migraine attacks] started when I was a kid. I remember going to Disneyland, and being the person who ruined the trip because Whitney has to go to the car and put a pillow over her head. A trip to Six Flags amusement park had to be cut short because Whitney has a migraine. I feel like I was always the bummer in my childhood.
…A big one of my migraine triggers is an increase in adrenaline and cortisol — which comes from stress, which we all have. It’s a neurological imbalance.
…Sometimes the stress leading up to something can trigger the migraine, and even the stress of anticipating a migraine can bring one on.
…I take beta-blockers now, which help hugely. I didn’t find out about them until about three years ago. I know if I have a big meeting, or a big audition, or a big performance, or anything where I know I’m going to be nervous, I just take one preemptively, so that I’m not blasting my brain with adrenaline.
My goal is to keep my neurochemicals, my hormones, and my blood sugar levels as consistent as possible.
Beta Blockers Risks
Occasional use of beta blockers is considered reasonably safe for the majority of people. However, they can present some side-effects and risks for people with certain health conditions.
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal discomfort
Beta-blockers may also cause issues for people with existing health issues, including:
- Obstructive pulmonary disease
- Diabetes & hypoglycemia
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- A history of cocaine use 
There’s also the risk of dependency or addiction. This can be particularly worrisome if one relies on beta blocker drugs for use in their profession; much like Khloé Kardashian & other celebrities, musicians, athletes and speakers. It’s really not hard to develop an addiction or dependence to beta blockers, and you may end up with issues like high blood pressure or more severe withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking beta blockers.
If you find yourself using beta blockers regularly, as a sort of crutch, it might be a good idea to start incorporating some natural alternatives to beta blockers into your routine, which is what we’ll discuss next.
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Beta Blocker Alternatives That Khloé Kardashian Should Consider
With the potential risks that come with beta blockers, as well as the risk of dependence when taking any drug habitually, it may be best for celebrities like Khloé Kardashian to consider some natural alternatives to beta blockers that can possibly provide the same benefits and help lower any stage fright/performance anxiety symptoms.
Many foods, minerals and dietary supplements have similar properties to beta blockers, in terms of lowering the negative effects of stress and anxiety.
Natural beta blocker alternatives are less likely to have detrimental side-effects, and carry a lower risk of dependence or addiction. They’re also more widely available, so Khloé or anyone else using them would not need a prescription, and almost all of these alternatives are beneficial to health in more ways than one.
Here are some notable natural beta blocker alternatives that Khloé Kardashian can consider trying:
GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, is a naturally-occurring amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter. GABA is widely recognized as having a calming effect, and GABA deficiency is believed to play a part in anxiety disorders .
Studies performed on GABA supplementation have found it may have a positive effect on stress and anxiety, which would help block the symptoms associated with performance anxiety and make GABA supplements a solid alternative to beta blockers .
L-theanine is an amino acid well known for its relaxing properties . Studies have shown that L-theanine may decrease the severity of stress-related symptoms, while increasing cognitive performance .
Thus, taking L-theanine may help performers counteract the nerves that come with performance anxiety, as well as providing better focus during their performance. Taylor Swift is known to use L-theanine to help her handle the stress of stage performances .
L-theanine can be taken as a supplement, and is also present in green, black and oolong teas, as well as some mushrooms.
Garlic can be a pretty effective alternative to beta-blockers when used properly, providing many of the same positive effects to cardiovascular health and blood pressure.
In one particular study, it was shown that garlic can have an equal effect on blood pressure to atenolol, a commonly prescribed beta-blocker .
Whether the anti-hypertensive benefits of garlic prove beneficial for performance anxiety has not been studied with enough depth, however garlic does show potential to replicate some of the effects of prescription beta-blockers and it’s quite promising considering how easily available and easy to implement in daily diet garlic is.
For managing performance anxiety and stage fright without using any medications, supplements or calming substances at all, we recommend certain deep breathing exercises. Breathing exercises have been shown to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and reduce blood pressure .
Slow abdominal breathing has even been shown to reduce the effects of the “fight or flight” response, the exact phenomenon responsible for most cases of performance anxiety .
One particularly effective breathing exercise is the practice of belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing. This involves taking deep breaths from the belly, as opposed to the chest, where our breathing naturally comes from.
Deep belly breathing is commonly used as a part of meditation, which shows positive effects for treating anxiety and stress-related symptoms . Navy SEALs also use a breathing technique called “tactical breathing” to dull the nervous side-effects that come when the fight-or-flight response is triggered .
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