Treating anxiety holistically
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something
with an uncertain outcome.
The emotional feeling of apprehension or trepidation of an upcoming event such as a job interview etc is part of your body’s natural response to a stressor. However, if the anxious thoughts are becoming extreme, are causing interference in your life or have lasted for longer than six months, then this may be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.
Ordinary anxious emotions will ebb and flow as part of a normal body response to a situation that is a little out of routine, but it should not interfere with your life on a daily basis.
For those with an anxiety disorder, this sensation of fear and trepidation may be with them all of the time and can be powerful, draining and debilitating.
Currently anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. Statistics from Beyond Blue found that 1 in 4 Australians’ will experience anxiety at some stage in their lifetime. This is over 6 million people! This is a pretty sizable portion of our society and the chances are that if you are one of the fortunate ones that have not experienced it, you will know someone who has. Working closely with your health practitioner (team) can explore the triggers for your anxiety. It is often multifactorial, could stem from a traumatic event or relationship, genetic predisposition, chronic illness and other life events. As a Naturopath, I work by addressing the underlying causes and your individual circumstances, identifying the root cause and treating the whole person and not just the symptom. Recent studies are showing how inflammation, gut dysbiosis and oxidative stress are some of the triggers that are affecting mental health. Therefore, we need to take a multi-factorial approach with our treatment to assist in calming the nervous system. A comprehensive evaluation of you will identify the individual approach that is needed for you. A selection of the lifestyle and dietary interventions that I have found helpful for myself and my anxious clients;
This anxiolytic is available in liquid tincture, tablet and powder form. Promising research is showing that the use of Passiflora is as effective as benzodiazepines in treating generalised anxiety disorder.
Applied to over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, in order for it to maintain homeostasis. When we are anxious, our bodies will actively eliminate magnesium, this in turn will lead to the release of more stress hormones. Healthy levels of magnesium can increase the activity of the calming neurotransmitter known as GABA as well as reducing the stress response. Foods high in this essential mineral include; leafy greens, avocado, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate.
Meditation, mindfulness & gratitude
The very act of permitting yourself to feel and acknowledge your difficult thoughts and emotions can assist them to dissipate. Mindfulness can assist you to become less consumed and overwhelmed, through understanding the underlying cause of your anxiety. Getting into the habit of listing three things each night that you are grateful for along with regular journaling can be most beneficial for many women I have found.
I focus my Naturopathic treatment on “food as medicine” predominantly and then enhance with individualised herbal &/or nutrient supplementation. Always look at giving pro-inflammatory foods the flick, these include sugar, processed and junk foods and possibly dairy/gluten for some. Focus on lots of fresh produce, legumes, fatty fish, brown rice, legumes, avocados and lots of spices and herbs. Definitely include turmeric which is one of the most researched anti-inflammatory spices.
Eat a rainbow daily and aim for 5 – 7 handfuls of fresh vegetables daily. Where possible make everything yourself to avoid any unnecessary harmful chemicals and pollutants.
Get that body moving! Studies have shown that a mere 20 minutes per day significantly decreases inflammation. Not only that exercise boosts those endorphins (feel good brain chemicals). Start every other day and work your way up; dancing, cycling, brisk walking, cycling – whatever you fancy, just get started!
This information does not take the place of professional or medical advice and is provided for information only, you should always contact your health professional for individual advice.
Boyle, N. B., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9050429
Akhondzadeh, S.., Naghavi, H.R.., Vazirian, M.., Shayeganpour, A.., Rashidi, H.. and Khani, M.. (2001), Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double‐blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 26: 363-367. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2710.2001.00367.x
Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, Trivedi J, Patel T, Tiwari D, Panchal B, Goel A, Tripathi CB. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85.