Anxiety is a normal physical response to a stressful situation, it’s our bodies’ way of telling us we’ve gone into the “fight or flight” mode. We are designed to cope with small irregular doses of stresses, however, not so when we are endlessly bouncing from fear to safety in our minds.
Confronted by a stressor we release adrenaline; our heartbeat, breathing rate and blood pressure increases, our body releases cortisol to increase the flow of glucose into our bloodstream for fuel and reduces bodily functions non-essential to emergency survival.
Your brain uses a regulating mechanism to reduce the release of these hormones once a stressor has passed. When an individual suffers from an anxiety disorder they may experience extreme responses like panic, nausea, altered digestive function, hyperventilation or dizziness that can seriously impact an individual’s day to day life.
Those affected by anxiety, may experience panic and/or anxiety attacks, and develop avoidance behaviour for fear of triggering an attack.
Several things can particularly increase an individual’s risk for developing an anxiety disorder such as experiencing a traumatic event, enduring chronic long term stress, suffering from an addictive disorder, insomnia, having a serious medical condition or a family history of a behavioural disorder.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Specific Phobia Social Phobia
Panic Disorder Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Anxiety disorders contribute to the development of and damage caused by many health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmune conditions, depression and obesity.
How can Anxiety be treated with Natural Solutions?
There are many ways that a healthy stress response can be nurtured naturally, for example, a variety of vitamins, minerals and herbs can be used as effective ways to balance and support your nervous system. Food can act as stress-relieving medication as opposed to just nourishment alone.
Magnesium is one of those amazing minerals that is used for so many bodily functions, one of them being the regulation of our HPA axis and stress response. Feelings of stress and anxiety can deplete our stores of magnesium, which can affect other bodily functions for which it is required. Deficiency may result in insomnia, heart palpitations, headache or migraine, elevated blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. Chronic stress may deplete magnesium levels over time so much that a person is even less likely to cope with normal day to day situations.
To include more magnesium in your diet make sure you eat a good variety of dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, seeds and legumes.
B complex vitamins are necessary for the synthesis and conversion of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA. B vitamins also help regulate cortisol activity and nurture the adrenals, to support a healthier stress response. B vitamins are required for a multitude of functions throughout the body and ongoing stress depletes stores, resulting in fatigue, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression and issues with memory and concentration. To ensure that you get sufficient levels of B vitamins make sure you consume enough dark leafy greens, lean meat, eggs, legumes, seeds and yoghurt.
Lemon balm, otherwise known as Melissa officinalis, acts on GABA receptors to reduce stress. Research has shown that lemon balm is effective in reducing anxiety, assisting with insomnia and supporting cognition.
Holy basil has been shown to increase dopamine levels and supplementation has demonstrated the ability to reduce symptoms of stress such as recall and concentration issues, adrenal fatigue and insomnia.
Chamomile is a long known herbal relaxant and research has demonstrated that it is effective in reducing symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder. Chamomile contains high levels of an antioxidant called Apigenin, which binds to neural receptors reducing anxiety and inducing sleep.
Eating a low G.I. diet, low in refined carbohydrates, high in fibre and proteins works to stabilise blood sugar levels and avoid erratic energy shifts that may increase stress levels. Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet, which is high in whole grains, protein, fish, essential fatty acids, fruit and vegetables, is associated with lower incidences of anxiety.
It is best to steer clear of beverages containing caffeine and alcohol, as these not only act as stimulants but also excrete precious nutrients like Magnesium and B vitamins, from your system. Try drinking herbal teas instead, such as chamomile, which is a natural relaxant.
Exercise and relaxing activities like yoga, guided meditation and deep breathing, are all excellent for reducing stress and anxiety levels. 30 minutes exercise 3 – 4 times a week assists in sleep regulation and improved blood circulation to neural centres, to increase focus and reduce stress.
There are non-invasive, lasting solutions for Stress & Anxiety, you don’t have to do this alone. Our Naturopaths have been treating patients with Anxiety for many years with great results. Each person’s biochemistry is different and anxiety has many faces which is why a tailored approach after a complete assessment yields the best results.