How Natural, Herbal Medicine & Remedies Help with Anxiety
How Natural Medicine Can Help with Anxiety
Living with the constant inner turmoil of anxiety can be overwhelming. As you go through life consumed by tension and unpleasant thoughts, it’s hard to see any way out at all sometimes.
Fortunately, we understand anxiety now better than ever, and the options for treatment are as wide ranging as they are effective. This article will explore some of the options available for people living with anxiety. If this is something you experience often, hopefully this information will help point you to a therapy plan that will work for you. It’s time to put you back in the driver’s seat.
With anxiety, the patient is in emotional chaos much of the time, worried about things that will likely never happen. Things that nonetheless seem unavoidable to the patient. It’s often accompanied by nervousness and trouble sleeping. Patients tend to ruminate over the associated symptoms, causes and consequences. In some, it can be debilitating.
Treatment for anxiety often involves a holistic approach. A blend of lifestyle changes, medicine and therapy. The condition is often characterized by a feeling of subjective menace, the perception of a threat that others don’t acknowledge. It often leads to muscle tension, fatigue, restlessness, and problems concentrating.
Other physiological symptoms may include—among other things—headaches, vertigo, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, itchy skin, frequent urination, and impotence.
Getting a Proper Diagnosis
Since the symptoms of anxiety are so varied and extensive, it’s important that you start your treatment with a proper diagnosis. What could appear to be anxiety might be merely a symptom of a disease or a disorder that demands an entirely different course of treatment.
If you’re worried about anxiety, it’s crucial that you get a professional diagnosis. The first step to freeing yourself from this problem is nailing down exactly what the problem is. And eliminating all other possible diagnoses.
Ease Your Troubled Mind by Talking It Out
Treatments for anxiety often involve some form of metacognitive therapy (MCT). The goal of MCT is to figure out what the patient believes about their own thought processes and the way their mind works. Along the way, it’s hoped that the patient will see how the way they respond to their own thoughts only worsens and prolongs their suffering.
In MCT sessions, you talk things out with a therapist. In the process, you learn to pay attention to your own thoughts and figure out where your attention is actually focused. Hint: it’s likely not where it should be.
A critical aspect of MCT is examining what you believe about your own thoughts. Many who live with anxiety often think the least likely worst possible outcome of any given situation is bound to happen. It’s inevitable as far as they’re concerned. Therapy gives you the tools to 1) think critically about the likelihood of these worries coming true, and 2) take steps to ensure a better outcome.
This practice has been used for decades to help with all manner of anxiety problems, as well as depression, and has a lot of hard science backing it up. And it usually involves little more than talking to a therapist until you have a better handle on things.
Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
While you’re doing your therapy, you might also find relief of your symptoms in all-natural, herbal medicine. There are several options available in many different forms—from capsules to essential oils—all aimed at calming your nerves and improving your mood.
Kava root comes from the islands of the South Pacific, often available in powder form or as a tea. It stimulates the dopamine receptors of your brain, inducing a mild, euphoric intoxication. The resulting improved mood puts a temporary halt to anxious thinking. But be warned; kava root can be so relaxing, it’s probably not a good idea to use if you need to drive or operate heavy machinery.
Roman chamomile comes from the same plant that gives us chamomile herbal tea. But as an essential oil, Roman chamomile can be part of an aromatherapy treatment to help with anxiety. It’s said to have calming properties, and it can also help you get off to sleep better, rather than lying awake obsessing about the next day.
Another aromatherapy agent is lavender oil, also shown to help ease anxiety. According to a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, lavender oil impairs your working memory’s performance and slows your mental reactions. It calms the mind down just enough for you to have better control of it, stopping it before it flies off on another less-than-productive tangent.
Anti-Anxiety Vitamins and Supplements
Sometimes, all it takes to put your mind at ease is making sure you cover all your nutritional needs. To make this easier for you, several vitamins and supplements can help restore balance to your nervous system and calm your worries.
B Complex capsules offer a blend of all eight B vitamins in one handy source. Vitamin B6 helps with a lot of metabolic functions and balancing your blood sugar levels. Taking B6 can help you avoid sugar crashes, thereby putting you in a better mood and a better frame of mind. It also aides in the formation of neurotransmitters. Another B vitamin, B12, is important in helping the body react to stress. A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to things like memory loss and cognitive impairment.
Magnesium is a mineral you can also supplement your diet with to help with anxiety. Vital for the formation of RNA and DNA, supplementing your diet with magnesium can help relax your muscles and calm your nerves. If looking to supplement your magnesium intake, look for magnesium in its citrate, chloride, lactate or aspartate forms. These forms absorb better into your body than the more commonly available magnesium oxide.
And then there’s GABA. That stands for gamma-Aminobutyric acid, and it inhibits neurotransmission. This substance occurs naturally in your body, its chief role to reduce excitability in the nervous system. Studies show that GABA supplements can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. They can’t directly calm your thoughts. But they can still benefit the rest of your nervous system. GABA even helps relax your muscles. And it’s also clinically-proven to reduce blood pressure.
Other Therapies for Anxiety
Another approach to consider is putting your music collection to therapeutic ends. The idea is to build two audio playlists from your media library. One for relaxation, another for getting stuff done.
The relaxation mix should be calming and tranquil. The instrumentation sparse, percussion minimal. Stop thinking for a while and just focus on the sounds you hear. Listen. Notice your breathing slow as you let go of your stress and enjoy the moment of peace you’ve just created for yourself.
The other mix should be more upbeat, both in tempo and in lyrical focus. Happy songs that make your feet move. But rather than focusing on the actual music, pick a task you need to do and use the music as inspiration. Throw yourself into it, thinking only of what you’re doing in that very moment. Tackle that spring cleaning this weekend. Get it done. In the process, you’ll forget about your worries for a while, which is always a good thing.
When you get better at quieting your troubled thoughts for a while, goget a massage. Constant worry stresses out your whole system, leading to tension in muscles you didn’t even know you had. Having that tension released by professional hands will calm your whole body—mind included.
Next, let’s consider meditation. People have been using it for years in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. But even if that high aim eludes them, do you know what they often find? Inner peace, that’s what. Studies show that people who learn to cultivate mindfulness suffer less mental and emotional anguish. The field of psychology has now accepted mindfulness practice an effective means of reducing stress and anxiety. It’s remarkable how good you can feel sitting still and focusing on your breath for a while.
Want another simple trick? Get warm. Raising your body temperature periodically does wonders for relaxation. Turn the heat up, have a sauna, enjoy a warm bath, or slip into a hot tub.
Anti-Anxiety Lifestyle Changes
Another great way to deal with anxiety is to shake up your routine a bit. Get out of old habits that allow time for rumination and get busy doing things that allow you to focus your thoughts on the task at hand. Doing so will also help tire you out, making it less likely that your mind will find time to wander later.
Get some exercise. Join a gym. Or a running club. Or if you struggle with physical activities, find something for your mind. Learn a musical instrument. Or another, if you already know one. Start a journal. You don’t have to be the next Atwood or Hemingway. Just write about what happened that day, simply and to the point, without a care for what’ll happen tomorrow.
While you’re at it, consider if you need to make changes to your diet. Especially processed sugar. Sugar doesn’t cause anxiety per se, but it does worsen some of its symptoms by inhibiting the body’s ability to cope with stress. Learn more about how sugar could be adversely affecting your mental health.
You might also want to consider cutting back on any mood-altering chemical. Especially the ones that lead to dependency, lightening your mood when you take them and darkening it when you go too long without. We’re not saying you should swear off alcohol and caffeine entirely. Just make sure you handle your intake of potentially harmful mood enhancers with caution. Everything in moderation, as the saying goes.
Finding little ways to improve your state of mind can go a long way in fighting anxiety. And it’s good to know there are effective natural, herbal remedies for those looking to take a more holistic approach.
Make no mistake; there’s no one-and-done quick fix for this problem. But knowing you can do lots of little things all working toward the goal of kissing your anxiety goodbye for good can do wonders for your state of mind.
It may seem like the road ahead is long but taking that first step with a determination will help you reach your destination that much quicker.
NDCare can help with sorting through all the natural methods for treating anxiety, as well as offer insight on other health factors that might be contributing to your anxiety. Come in for your naturopathic consult with Dr. Tara and let’s see how we can help you today.