Many clients come in with an underlying issue of anxiety or panic, most have lived with this for many years and have accepted it as normal life.
Anxiety is a tool of the human body that is meant to be a healthy response to stresses in our life or even to dangerous situations. When we are afraid, our metabolism speeds up, your muscles tighten, and our adrenal glands produce extra quantities of adrenaline, this is a hormone that makes our hearts beat faster.
Anxiety becomes a troublesome response only when we can’t burn up the nervous energy it creates. When a meeting, a deadline, or a family problem sets us on edge, our bodies signal “danger” but physical action is rarely appropriate. Instead, we endure the unpleasant sensation of a rapid heartbeat and tensed muscles, often while having to smile at the opponent who sits across the desk or the dinner table. We are all able to handle occasional bouts of unreleased anxiety, but if the anxiety doesn’t go away, or if it recurs frequently, it can lead to serious health problems. People who are exposed to prolonged anxiety—those who are going through a divorce, for example, or who are subject to intense pressures at work, often suffer from high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive problems, skin disorders, mood swings, depression and many other conditions. The effects of anxiety can also make any existing health problems much worse.
What is excessive?
Sometimes people feel the symptoms of anxiety even when they’re not facing a serious challenge or danger. Anxiety disorder is the name given to an excessive amount of worry that last longer than six months. What’s excessive? Any nervous response that’s out of proportion to its cause. A new job or a serious illness should naturally produce more anxiety than say planning a party. If people cannot pinpoint the source of anxiety, or if it constantly changes there’s a good chance that they suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety and Panic
People with anxiety disorders are vulnerable to the same health problems as anyone else with prolonged anxiety. They may also experience extreme states of nervousness and worry, called panic attacks. During a panic attack, the heart pounds and breathing becomes rapid or difficult. Sufferers may break into a cold sweat, experience tingling in the extremities, or feel dizzy and weak. Although panic attacks rarely last long they can take anywhere from a few seconds to half an hour, these attacks can be very frightening. People may feel certain that they are having a heart attack or a stroke or may simply feel overwhelmed by intense terror.
- Sleep disturbances
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Mood swings
- High blood pressure
- Change in appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Leaky Gut
- Poor nutrition
- Low blood Sugar
- Adrenal disorders
- Sulfa issues
- Food allergies
- Environmental Toxins
What Can I Do?
If you or a loved one suffer from anxiety or panic, you can take steps to ease your symptoms. Bodywork, meditation, yoga will give you immediate relief and can also help you work on the root cause of your problem. Nutritional changes and herbal therapies along with essential oils can also help calm and stabilize the mood.
As you implement these complementary healing strategies, it’s also important to rule out any underlying physical causes, disorders like low blood sugar, thyroid problems, heart issues and nutritional deficiencies.
The following tests can give you an assessment of possible metabolic reasons for anxiety:
- Hormone analysis by saliva, urine DHEA and Cortisol are of particular importance
- Urine Sulfa testing
- Fasting blood sugar
- Food allergy testing
Healing Nutritional Plan for Anxiety
This plan should start with a good base of nutrients. Plan should be well-rounded meals of basic, clean foods. This will help keep your blood sugar levels stable, eat small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones.
Complex carbohydrates contain serotonin a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the brain. Have some whole grains, like brown rice or oats, at every meal.
Make sure you are getting plenty of B-vitamins by increasing your intake of brown rice and leafy green vegetables.
If you have a bowel disorder, fibrous foods will help regulate your digestive track. The whole grains and vegetables that were suggested earlier are an excellent source of fiber.
Calcium and magnesium calm the body. Good sources include sea vegetables, green leafy vegetables, (except spinach), raw unsalted nuts, molasses, salmon, oysters, sardines with the bones, broccoli and unsweetened cultured yogurt.
Foods to avoid
Caffeine and alcohol cause anxiety or the symptoms of anxiety. Wean yourself off black tea, coffee and alcohol, even if they seem to comfort you when you’re stressed. Ultimately these substances just put a further strain on your system.
Refined sugars are another enemy of anxious people. Whole fruits and naturally sweet products are fine in moderation, but candy, cake, cookies, refined flower products and soft drinks will cause your blood sugar to spike and then plummet. The resulting low levels of blood sugar can produce feelings of irritability, tension and depression.
Common allergen foods, these foods usually include wheat/gluten, dairy and soy. Start with eliminating one group at a time until they are all eliminated for a total of 4 weeks. When you reintroduce pay attention to how you feel; food sensitivities can cause trembling, dry mouth, belly bloat, heart palpitations, bowel changes and mimic anxiety.
Stress can also be a result of toxins we are subjected to multiple toxins everyday environmental and lifestyle toxins. We inherit toxins at birth via the umbilical cord blood. The question is not if you are toxic? It is now how toxic are you? Your overall toxic burden over a long period of time.
Stress itself is toxic to the body and increases your overall toxic burden and it can be poisonous to your entire system. Consider doing a 10-day supervised detox. Even taking an Epson salt bath in the evening can be detoxifying and calming.
Natural therapies for anxiety
- Field of Flowers – calms and lifts mood
- 5-HTP – Increases serotonin levels which have a calming effect on the mind – do not combine with antidepressant or antianxiety meds
- Kava– significantly relieves panic attack
- Calcium/Magnesium – Minerals to help calm nervous system
- B-complex – with methylated folic acid and B-12 helps combat the effects of stress and balances your brain chemicals B6 is very important
- GABA– this amino acid has a calming effect.
All of these strategies are good to start with however, it does not eliminate the need to address the underlying issues. If you address the underlying issues you can and will live a stress and panic free life with very little supplementation needed once it is resolved.
At Forum Health Clarkston we specialize in addressing the underlying issues and getting to the root cause. Let us develop a customized nutritional plan that will address your specific needs.
Cindy Crandell RN, CN
Functional Medicine Nutritionist
Prescription for Natural Cures- Mark Spengler MD and James Balch MD
Dr Josh Axe – Anxiety
Web MD – Anxiety