Anxiety

Woman experiencing anxiety and stress

Natural Treatment for Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling that everyone may experience at some point in their life. However, some people can be affected more severely than others.  Feeling anxious all the time is extremely distressing for the person.  Chronic or severe anxiousness is considered to be a form of mental illness.

What is the Definition of Anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as a collection of symptoms that create psychological discomfort.  The feeling may be interpreted as panic or fear.

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

The symptoms of anxiety include:

  • heart palpitations
  • heart racing
  • sweating
  • chest tightness
  • shortness of breath
  • fear
  • difficulty concentrating
  • shaking or trembling
  • worry
  • a feeling of impending doom

The sense of fear sometimes feels paralyzing both physically and mentally. Additional physical symptoms may include digestive disorders like nausea or diarrhea and insomnia. Also, anxiety is often also associated with depression.

Some common mood disorder diagnoses are social anxiety, panic disorders, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If any of these are interfering with your life, our naturopathic doctors and psychotherapist can help.

What is the Most Effective Natural Treatment for Anxiety?

In our experience, it helps to investigate a few key areas such as:

Diet

The gut is also called the “mini-brain” and as such, there is a link between it and your other brain.  This highlights the importance of a good diet not only for gut health but also for mood disorders. Did you know that your gut makes more serotonin (your “feel-good” neurotransmitter) than your brain does?

A high-fat diet can also contribute to mood problems, especially if it is high in unhealthy fats.  One study showed that 4 months of a high-fat diet lead to changes in the way the brain functions, more inflammation in the brain and caused increased anxiousness.

Sleep

Sleep recharges your system. Are you getting enough sleep?  Are you waking feeling refreshed? If not, there are natural treatments for insomnia that help you get to sleep and stay asleep.  Being well-rested helps you to cope with whatever life throws at you.

Stress

We all know the effect that stress has on our mood.  Ideally, you would like to rid yourself of the cause of the stress.  If you can’t, add in stress reduction techniques.  Stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and psychotherapy relieve anxiousness.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture helps to treat the cause of the problem. In Chinese Medicine, feelings of unease are caused by excess “Heat in the Heart”. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs clear this excess heat.

Psychotherapy

Talking about how you are feeling may be the last thing you want to do, and that’s ok. Just know that when you’re ready, talking to someone else may help.

Naturopathic Medicine

Your naturopathic doctor will work with you to help manage your symptoms.  We help you treat the cause through scientifically-proven diet, herbs, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Our natural remedies for anxiety include herbs like ashwagandha, lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, and kava.  Other supplements that help include l-theanine, magnesium, and fish oil.  Also, vitamins like K, D, and B6 are effective treatments for mood disorders.

What Causes Mood Disorders?

From a naturopathic perspective, factors that initiate, cause or aggravate mood disorders include:

  1. Hormone imbalance.  Your hormones regulate how your serotonin receptors work.  Hormones may at the root of the issue if the problem worsens around puberty, ovulation, menopause or premenstrually.  Hormones may also be a problem if menstrual cycles are irregular or abnormal.
  2. Neurotransmitter imbalance.  Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in your brain that influence how your brain works.  Dopamine, GABA and serotonin are all key “calming” neurotransmitters. By providing the right nutrients, our naturopathic doctors rebalance your neurotransmitters.
  3. Adrenal gland function.  Your adrenal glands are your coping glands.  If they’re not working well, you won’t deal with stress as easily as you should. Chronic stress depletes your adrenal glands of key nutrients that they need to work normally.  These include vitamins B5, B6, C, and the minerals zinc and magnesium.  Our naturopathic doctors counsel you on how best to replenish these nutrients and which herbs to use to help your adrenal glands.

Are Natural Remedies Effective?

As with any other condition, you need the right herbs, vitamins or minerals, in the right forms, at the proper dosage and frequency for them to be effective.  The studies below prove the effectiveness of a small sampling of natural remedies for mood disorders.  Our wellness practitioners have many other options to fix mood naturally.

Authored by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND

Research on Natural Treatment for Anxiety:

Melatonin:

Hansen M, Halladin N, Rosenberg J, Gogenur I, Moller A. Melatonin for pre- and postoperative anxiety in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015;
DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD009861.pub2.
● This study found that melatonin may also be equally as effective as midazolam (standard treatment) in reducing pre-operative anxiety.

Lavender and Orange Aromatherapy:

Lehrner J, Marwinski G, Johren P, Deecke L. Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiol Behav. 2005; 86(1-2):92-5.

Gingko Biloba:

Woelk H, Arnoldt KH, Kieser M, Hoerr R. Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2007; 41(6): 472-80.
● After 4 weeks of treatment, a reduction in anxiety score of at least 50% was observed in 44% of patients taking the highest dose (480 mg/day).

Acupuncture:

4 weekly treatments of acupuncture were found to significantly lower anxiety levels in women undergoing in vitro fertilization. Source: Acupunct Med, 2012 April 12

Omega-3 fatty acids:

Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety. Source: Brain Behav Immun, 2011 July 19

L-theanine:

Supplementation with L-theanine reduces anxiety in adults. Source: J Physiol Anthropol. 2012 Oct 29;31(1):28. [Epub ahead of print.]

Antioxidants:

High serum levels of antioxidants, particularly vitamins A, C, and E decreases anxiety and depression scores in patients. Source: Indian Journal of Psychiatry, July 2012