Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Here are some of the natural remedies that can be used to treat anxiety, together with any necessary warnings of potential side-effects.
Magnesium and Calcium
Magnesium and calcium are two of the most important minerals in the body. They are also good natural remedies for anxiety. To remove calcium ions our body needs enzymes and energy; central to both is the element magnesium. Think of it like a sea-saw, calcium tenses, magnesium relaxes. When we are anxious our body tenses, calcium ions rush into our muscle cells, when we relax, calcium ions with the assistance of magnesium are removed from the muscle cells.
Look at the symptoms of magnesium deficiency: fatigue, insomnia, muscle twitching, irritability, rapid heartbeat, and numbness. They are familiar symptoms for an anxious person. However, we must remember that magnesium always works in association with calcium.
Calcium works with magnesium in its functions in the blood, nerves, and muscles, particularly in regulating heart and muscle contraction and nerve conduction. They work together but usually at either end of the sea-saw. Calcium is the tensing mineral, involved in muscle contraction whereas magnesium is the relaxant, assisting in muscle relaxation.
Depressed or anxious people often have excessive calcium levels. As calcium and magnesium always work in tandem, this means that anxious or depressed people will often have a deficiency of magnesium. Add to this the fact that stress itself increases the need for magnesium and we have the picture of the "uptight", never able to relax, magnesium deficient, and anxious personality type. An anxiety picture with a lot of muscle tension, particularly if there is also twitching, insomnia and headaches points to a magnesium deficiency.
Do you recongnise yourself? If so, magnesium supplementation or a diet high in magnesium may be useful. Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, in nuts and whole grains. Seeds, legumes (peas and beans) and leafy greens, especially spinach, are all good sources of magnesium. The recommended daily supplementation of magnesium is 250-350 mg. If you are already taking calcium supplements and you suffer from anxiety it is essential that you also take magnesium.
Native to Polynesia, the herb kava (Piper methysticum) has been found to have anti-anxiety effects in humans.
WARNING: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has issued an advisory to consumers about the potential risk of severe liver injury resulting from the use of dietary supplements containing kava. To date, there have been more than 25 reports of serious adverse effects from kava use in other countries, including four patients who required liver transplants.
The herb passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) was used as a folk remedy for anxiety and insomnia.
Two studies involving a total of 198 people examined the effectiveness of passionflower for anxiety. One study found passionflower to be comparable to benzodiazepine drugs. There was also improvement in job performance with passionflower and less drowsiness with passionflower compared with the drug mexazolam, however, neither was statistically significant.
Side effects of passionflower may include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and rapid heartbeat. The safety of passionflower in pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with kidney or liver disease has not been established. There have been five case reports in Norway of people becoming temporarily impaired mentally after using a combination product containing passionflower. It's not known whether the other ingredients in the supplement played a role.
Passionflower should not be taken with sedatives unless under medical supervision. Passionflower may enhance the effect of pentobarbital, a medication used for sleep and seizure disorders.
Also known as Vitamin B5, Pantothenic acid is one of eight vitamins that make up the B complex. Pantothenic acid is essential for life and is involved in a large range of bodily functioning.
As Pantothenic acid is found in many common foods, deficiencies are rare. However, anxiety sufferers can benefit from a supplement containing it.
The herb valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is best known as a herbal remedy for insomnia. Valerian is also used in patients with mild anxiety, but the research supporting its use for anxiety is limited.
Valerian is usually taken an hour before bedtime. It takes about two to three weeks to work and shouldn't be used for more than three months at a time. Side effects of valerian may include mild indigestion, headache, palpitations, and dizziness. Although valerian tea and liquid extracts are available, most people don't like the smell of valerian and prefer taking the capsule form.
Valerian shouldn't be taken with many medications, especially those that depress the central nervous system, such as sedatives and antihistamines. Valerian shouldn't be taken with alcohol, before or after surgery, or by people with liver disease. It should not be used before driving or operating machinery. Consultation with a qualified health practitioner is recommended
Plant essential oils can be added to baths, massage oil, or infusers. Essential oils that are used for anxiety and nervous tension are: bergamot, cypress, geranium, jasmine, lavender, melissa, neroli, rose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang. Lavender is the most common and forms the base of many relaxing blends.
Mind/body breathing exercises, physical exercise, yoga, tai chi, self-hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback are just some of the stress reduction techniques used for anxiety.
Additionally, Massage therapy, Shiatsu, and other forms of bodywork are widely used to diminish muscle tension, relieve stress, and improve sleep.
Try different techniques and determine which routine you can stick to within your own schedule.
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