If you’re anything like me and you’ve perused websites related to public performing and anxiety or stage fright, then it’s impossible that you have not been hit with advertisements from two tech-feeling startups in the space, Hims (forHims.com) and Kick (goKick.com).
Both of these companies seem to offer access to medications that can help with performance anxiety and stage fright, all through a seemingly easy process that involves a consultation with a doctor (I’m assuming online or over the phone — perhaps both?) and reasonable pricing plus timely delivery of the actual medication following that.
I’m super intrigued by these startups who seem to be on the same path I am; to overcome performance anxiety and fears that come with performing in social, high-pressure or large audience situations. How legit are these startups? Are the ‘consultations’ with real doctors or a young-teenager in an overseas call-center? What medications do they prescribe and deliver and — the ultimate question — do they actually work?
And so, of course, I went through the consultation and order process of both Hims & Kick in order to answer all of these questions (and much more). In this article I share my findings and finally answer the question: Hims vs Kick – who provides the best service and anxiety medications online?
Hims vs Kick Propranolol Online Key Takeaways
If you're looking for a quick, scannable summary of the rest of this article, here are several key takeways about Hims vs Kick Propranolol Online:
- Both Hims & Kick offer Propranolol as their performance anxiety treatment. Propranolol is a prescription beta-blocker that works by blocking the effects of adrenergic hormones in the body, such as adrenaline
- Hims, available at forHims.com, offers Propranolol that requires an initial online doctors visit at a $5 cost, and then they charge $25 for 5 doses (20mg) of propranolol
- Kick, available at goKick.com, offers two different pricing options, either $59 for 24 doses (10mg) of Propranolol, or $79 for 48 doses (10mg). Both also require a $40 doctors visit fee for the first purchase
What is Propranolol, The Beta Blocker that both Hims & Kick prescribe?
Both of these companies offer Propranolol as their performance anxiety treatment. Propranolol is a beta blocker and we’ve written in-depth about several different beta-blockers that are used off-script for performance anxiety (Metoprolol, Coreg, Bisoprolol, Atenolol, etc.) and out specific resource on Propranolol can be seen here for a deep-dive into why Propranolol works for anxiety.
Propranolol is actually the most commonly prescribed beta-blocker in the US. Beta-blockers, full medical name beta-adrenergic blocking agents, work by blocking the effects of adrenergic hormones in the body, such as adrenaline.
Doctors typically prescribe beta-blockers to treat various heart conditions, normally after lifestyle adjustments fail to do the job. Some of the typical conditions for which a doctor might recommend a beta-blocker include :
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Angina (chest pain)
Another condition that Propranolol is sometimes used for is benign essential tremors, a disorder that can cause uncontrolled shaking in the arms, hands, or your torso.
With cardiovascular issues like those listed above, beta-blockers are useful in influencing the force with which the heart pumps blood through the body, and this happens through the medication blocking the effects of adrenaline and preventing it from binding to the beta receptors in the heart.
In the process of blocking the effects of adrenaline, a calming effect is felt (by the heart, and then the rest of the body) and the heart can return to its regular workload, allowing blood pressure to remain steady .
Why is Propranolol popular with performers like musicians, speakers & other professions that involve getting on stage?
A 1987 survey by the International Conference of Symphony Orchestra Musicians, representing some of the largest orchestras in the U.S., found that 27 percent of their musicians were using beta-blockers for performance anxiety . Many experts assume that this number is much higher today.
As we previously explained, Beta-blockers like Propranolol block the effects of adrenaline and prevent it from binding to the beta receptors in the heart. This has an overall calming effect on the heart and the force with which it has to pump blood. Consequently, the heart can return to its regular workload, and your blood pressure can remain steady .
An exaggerated stress response like what a performer experiences when suffering from performance anxiety, is associated with a dramatic spike in adrenaline.
So, by blocking the effects of adrenaline, you are preventing it from binding to the beta receptors in the heart. It follows, then, that beta-blockers essentially block the physical symptoms of performance anxiety.
When you take a beta-blocker, it can slow your heart rate, reduce the trembling and sweating, and regulate your breathing and blood pressure. It can help you feel relaxed, essentially negating the stress response to help you get through any performance or high-anxiety situation .
You can easily see why a performer would find massive value in being able to block performance anxiety or stage fright, almost on-demand, using propranolol.
We should make a note that each individual is different, especially when it comes to causes of anxiety. We also vary widely in symptoms, the severity of those symptoms, and how we react to specific medications. So, how you respond to a beta-blocker like propranolol can be vastly different from someone else .
Does Propranolol actually work for Anxiety?
Compared to other beta blockers and other anxiety medications such as Coreg and Bisoprolol, Propranolol has proven to be an effective tool for overcoming anxiety with minimal side effects if used properly.
Propranolol has proven so effective in recent years that several prominent celebrities have gone public about their use of the beta-blocker medication, including singers Shawn Mendes and Katy Perry, as well as comedians Whitney Cummings & Bobby Lee.
So it has been shown that propranolol works as an effective short term relief from the physical symptoms of stage fright. If a musician takes Propranolol before going on stage, he or she might still feel the stress, but not the symptoms like trembling hands, racing heart rate, or nausea.
It should be noted that when people talk about taking beta-blockers for performance anxiety, it is important to note that they are not talking about addressing the root causes of the fear, or a long-term solution.
They are talking about a short-term fix. But Propranolol is a short-term fix that can be the difference between whether someone gets to keep pursuing a career in performing, or give up on their passion and move on to something else.
As useful as they may be, you shouldn’t expect beta-blockers like propranolol to completely cure your performance anxiety in the long run if you do choose to take them.
Why Propranolol for Performance Anxiety Instead of Xanax or Valium?
Benzodiazepines such as Xanax & Valium belong to a class of drugs that have a tranquilizing effect and thus have been used to treat anxiety disorder, agitation, muscle spasms, and many other conditions for nearly six decades.
We wrote an entire article about how Benzodiazepines like Xanax & Valium compare to Propranolol for the purposes of performance anxiety, but I would say that the main differences can be summarized as addiction risk, brain and heart functions of the two drugs and medium-term vs one-off usage.
Xanax, in particular, is a controlled substance and has become an often abused drug due to what’s known as the “Xanax high”. It is fairly easy to develop a tolerance to Xanax and the drug is abused by people both with and without a prescription .
Signs of Xanax abuse include:
- Continued use despite side effects
- Inability to stop using Xanax
- Loss of interest in other activities
- Obsession with obtaining more Xanax
- Risky behavior; like combining your prescription and alcohol or driving after taking your medicine
Similar to other addictions, Xanax abuse can lead to poor health, ruined relationships, forgotten responsibilities, and maybe worse.
Benzodiazepine abuse is a widespread problem, which is why the more potent variations are banned in many countries. Benzodiazepine overdose can be fatal, and the risk of overdose is higher when combined with other drugs. In contrast, Propranolol hasn’t been found to cause addiction, even after long-term use .
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from addiction please contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or through the website.
Xanax Targets The Brain; Propranolol Targets The Heart
If we look at the way the two drugs work, it’s easier to see which is better suited to the purposes of fighting performance anxiety. Xanax and other benzodiazepines target the brain and central nervous system, whereas propranolol is focused on the cardiovascular system. The former primarily has a psychoactive impact, while the latter mostly influence you physically (although the act of taking a beta-blocker in itself does has a reassuring psychological effect) .
Propranolol Is More Suited For One-off Use; Xanax Fits Medium-term Treatment
Since Propranolol’s effect on the body is, to put it bluntly, more straight-forward and doesn’t require re-wiring the brain. It only takes 30-60 minutes after taking a pill to yield the desired effect. This makes the drug useful for single-event performance anxiety, for example prior to an important presentation, public speech or test .
In contrast, Xanax is typically prescribed for medium-term treatment (as in several weeks to 4 months) to tackle more serious anxiety disorders. It takes several days and sometimes even weeks for Xanax to reach its maximum effect. Additionally, at the end of the treatment period, the drug can’t be abruptly stopped but instead needs to be gradually phased out to avoid withdrawal-related side effects .
How are you supposed to use beta blockers from Hims or Kick to help with your performance anxiety?
The propranolol supplied by Kick or Hims is supposed to be taken an 1-2 hours before an upcoming high-anxiety event. Depending on the dose you are prescribed (typical propranolol effective dose for most adults is between 40-80 mg per day ), effects of the drug — namely relief from stage fright/performance anxiety symptoms — will be experienced for up to 12 hours, and lower doses will be felt for shorter periods (and possibly have less of an overall effect).
Generally speaking, with Propranolol you want to give the drug enough time for the effects to kick in, but not take it so early that it is no longer useful.
Beta-blockers, in general, are pretty safe but here are some of the potential, albeit rare, side effects of Propranolol, the medication prescribed by both Hims & Kick :
- Dry eyes
- Abnormally low heart rate
- Fatigue or weakness
Severe side effects are quite rare, but if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking Propranolol, be sure to contact your doctor immediately:
- Allergic reactions like skin hives or rashes
- Swelling in the face – lips, tongue, etc.
- Shortness of breath
Both companies provide their own list of propranolol side effects, and you should make sure you follow their guidelines/warnings for usage to make sure you don’t experience negative effects of any medication.
There’s also a questionnaire that you fill out during the online visit, along with plenty of chances to ask about side effects during the online doctors visit. Try and be as accurate as possible during both of these, as you want to make sure that the doctors know broadly about your state of health in case there is something in your medical history that might disqualify you as a candidate for a prescription.
Kick Vs Hims: which propranolol for anxiety program is better?
Considering that both Kick & Hims are providing the same prescription medication — there are several broad areas to compare the companies on that will give a better picture on which you should go with: Cost & Experience (particularly the doctors visit). So lets delve right into the comparisons:
How Much does Kick anxiety medication treatment cost?
Kick has a pretty simple pricing structure, they charge you to have the online doctor’s visit, and then charge you a fee to ship the Propranolol medication to you.
Kick offers two different pricing options: $59 for 24 doses (10mg), or $79 for 48 doses (10mg). Both require a $40 doctor’s visit fee for the first purchase, in addition.
Kick does not offer a monthly subscription, you simply order the medication following the initial doctors visit as and when you need it.
How much does Hims anxiety medication treatment cost?
Hims and Hers (the female-focused version of Hims) have a similarly simple pricing structure that actually works out cheaper up-front.
Their Propranolol options require an initial online doctor’s visit at the lower price of $5, and then they charge $25 for 5 doses (20mg). They also offer a nice introductory discount: pay just $5 for your first month’s Propranolol shipment, as long as you qualify.
Hims (and Hers) offer a monthly subscription, meaning that they will send you prescription Propranolol every month. This has the upside of lowering your chances of running out of the medication, but the downside is that you will have to manually cancel your subscription if you only want small dosages for, say, a one-time event or performance.
What is the doctors visit like with Kick & Hims?
The real innovation of both of these startups is the “telemedicine” process; they are using technology and a thorough (and stress-reducing) focus on the rules and regulations surrounding prescription medications to make obtaining Propranolol a really simple process.
The online doctors visits of both Kick & Hims is really stress-free. In several states you don’t even have to talk with a physician. All of the interaction is done online through easy to understand forms. It is important, however, that you answer the questions honestly and carefully, as you want the doctor reviewing your case to have all the information they need to make an informed prescription .
During the ‘doctors visit’ you will click through a series of online forms, answering questions about your medical history, conditions and symptoms. There’s also a part where you enter your contact info, and snap a photo of yourself and your driver’s license in order to prove to the doctor that you are who you say you are, meeting regulatory requirements for telemedicine.
For both Hims & Kick doctors visits, the process took me about 10 minutes. There was a few surprises for both, like being asked what my blood pressure is (you need to know both your systolic and diastolic readings – so Google & look these up before starting), and you of course have to detail your anxiety symptoms and answer some questions about alcohol and drug usage.
Overall, the online doctors visit for both companies was extremely simple, apart from the need to have accurate and recent blood pressure readings handy!
How are the medications from Hims & Kick delivered? Is it discrete?
Both Kick and Hims will ship your propranolol prescriptions to you in discrete, nondescript packaging that anyone scanning by eye will not be able to tell what’s inside. The Propranolol itself is packaged in small, individual pouches by both companies so you can easily and discretely take them with you in your pockets, purse, or bag. Here’s are a couple of pictures of the little medicine pouches from Kick and Hims:
Are there any solid alternatives medications or treatments available OTC for Performance Anxiety?
There are a few other online startups who have got into the Propranolol prescription for anxiety game, the most popular I came across being Cerebral Propranolol and Roman’s Ro Mind Propranolol. I’m in the process of signing up for both of these companies and testing them out, and will post my review of both once I’ve extensively used them.
If you are turned off by the potential side-effects of propranolol, or you just don’t like the idea of using a prescription medication to try and solve your performance anxiety issues, then you might be interested in trying some of these equally effective alternatives to propranolol. From my own research and work with clients, these are the best natural alternatives to Propranolol for anxiety available today:
Propranolol Alternative #1: GABA Supplements
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 .
According to an article published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, when GABA levels are out of balance in your body, you might be more susceptible to more severe symptoms of depression, PTSD, and social anxiety disorders (SAD) .
Performance anxiety falls within the umbrella of social anxiety disorders (SAD). It is possible that if your GABA levels are disrupted, the part of the brain that handles stress may be overactive, and you’re more susceptible to severe symptoms of stage fright.
On the other hand, optimal GABA levels promote calmness in stressful situations, like during a performance or a speech in front of an audience.
We recommend NOW Supplements GABA which contains 500mg of GABA per serving, has some great reviews & is very well priced from a trusted brand.
Propranolol Alternative #2: Silexan Supplements
Silexan is a branded extract of lavender oil created by Wilmar Schwabe GmbH, a German pharmaceutical company. Schwabe pharmaceuticals claim that silexan is “introducing a new therapeutic alternative in the field of anxiety disorder treatment” .
Put simply, Silexan is just a standardized essential oil of lavender flowers prepared by steam distillation .
Research involving Silexan is showing that potent silexan can improve symptoms of mild anxiety. Two recent studies have found lavender oil capsules to be just as effective as commonly prescribed benzodiazepine Lorazepam and the antidepressant Paroxetine .
The anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties of lavender/silexan seemingly come from the antagonization of NMDA and GABA-related receptors in the central nervous system that influence muscle contraction, as well as inhibition of the serotonin transporter.
In this way, the method of action for Silexan seems to be similar to anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs like SSRIs and Benzodiazepines .
The major upside to lavender/silexan over similar prescription anti-anxiety medications (like benzodiazepines) is the almost complete lack of abuse potential in healthy recreational users of the lavender extract .
Downsides can include the affectionately-titled “lavender burps” which are potential mild gastrointestinal issues, and recent studies showing that chemicals in lavender oil are potential endocrine disruptors with varying effects on receptors for two hormones — estrogen and androgen .
Nature’s Way CalmAid is made with Silexan; “a clinically studied lavender oil, to reduce feelings of occasional tension and stress.”
It’s gluten-free and contains no salt, yeast-derived ingredients, wheat, or dairy while also being manufactured by a well-respected company who have been producing well-loved supplements for more than a decade. Each serving contains 80mg of Silexan.
Propranolol Alternative #3: PerformZen Supplement
Some dietary supplements contain a mix of ingredients that support focus, calm and cognition, which may counteract the negative side-effects of performance anxiety and stage fright just as well as beta-blockers like Propranolol.
One example that I personally like and recommend to clients is PerformZen, which contains GABA, L-theanine and Magnesium, as well as cognitive-enhancing ingredients Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin B6 and Theacrine.
These ingredients have been shown to help induce a calming effect on the body, as well as keeping the brain as sharp as it needs to be during your performance.
Note From The Author: I reached out to PerformZen, creators of the Calm Performance Formula supplement that I use and have recomended to many of my clients who struggle with anxiety, and they agreed to offer PerformanceAnxiety.com readers an exclusive discount of $7 off your first order!
Simply use the discount code PERFORMANCEANXIETY7 during checkout to claim your discount. This is valid until 31 Jan 2024 and is limited to the first 110 customers, so you should act fast:
Final verdict: Is Hims or Kick the better provider of anti-anxiety medication?
As both Hims and Kick are offering the same propranolol medication prescriptions to help with your performance anxiety issues, there’s only really the usability of the website and the pricing that you can use to properly compare the two.
On the website usability and service side of these two companies, both are pretty similar and one really can’t be faulted or put-ahead of the other. I would say that if you like the idea of picking up your prescriptions at your local pharmacy, hate subscription services, or only need 10mg of Propranolol and can’t stand the thought of cutting your propranolol pills in half, Kick is the slightly better option! They make it easy to attain propranolol pills to combat performance anxiety without any ongoing commitment.
Hims is actually cheaper up-front, but then you have to deal with manually cancelling your subscription if you only want a small dose of Propranolol for a one-time event or use-case.
Also consider some natural alternatives to beta blockers like the supplements mentioned above (GABA, Silexan, PerformZen, etc) if you’re not comfortable using a prescription medication for your performance anxiety symptoms.
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