Natural Approaches for Anxiety

Dear Dr.Kim

I am wondering if you have any suggestions for natural approaches to help calm me down. I have trouble falling asleep at night and have some anxiety

D.B. Victoria

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Dear D.B.

This is a great question. You might be surprised at how common it is for people to experience anxiety and as we look more and more to take care of our mental health –it’s good to talk about it and explore support. Increases in social engagement and communication –through email, social media, and cell phones, with juggling a full schedule can be less then forgiving and take a toll contributing to the rise in incidence of anxiety.

Anxious feelings typically occur when the body is in a “fight or flight response” –an increased state of (sympathetic) nervous system activity that puts the body on “high alert.” Unfortunately, this heightened state is draining for the body and in a “chicken and egg scenario,” anxiety is more frequent in people who are drained. It is counter-intuitive that when the body is drained, it commonly becomes harder to fall asleep (an active mind appears); sleep can be superficial and sometimes night sweats present. The troubled sleep adds insult to injury moving you away from rest and rejuvenation.

Natural approaches to improving anxiety can focus on rebalancing the nervous system and supporting the body from the detrimental effects of stress and drain. Here are several approaches to consider:

  • Breathing exercise – Breathing exercises are a great way to activate the opposite, calming, nervous system state – that governed by the parasympathetic portion of the nervous system. Some simple and effective breathing exercises are: Alternate Nostril Breathing, Square Breathing and Diaphragmatic Breathing.
  • Homeopathics – Single and combination remedies can be effective at preventing symptoms of anxiety and for helping take you out of an acute anxious state. Calmes Forte and Rescue Remedy are two popular homeopathic products used to help balance anxious feelings.
  • Herbs – Several herbs function as anxiolytic or nervines– term that reflects their ability to reduce anxiety or calm the nervous system. Some examples are Passionflower, Oat, Kava kava, and Skullcap.
  • Adrenal support – The adrenal glands produce stress hormones that contribute to the symptoms of anxiety. Consider using adrenal glandulars, Siberian Ginseng, Licorice (herbal), Ashwaganda, and/or Rhodiola to help replenish the adrenal glands. Strengthen the adrenal glands is a great way to help strengthen your base energy so that it is harder to knock you off keel.
  • Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) – Vitamin C, B complex, Magnesium and when required –Iron and B12 –can all play a part in helping relieve anxiety. When iron or B12 are low or low normal, the body can feel tired and drained. After identifying this with lab testing, you can make a plan to move them to an optimal range, which can be foundational to feeling good. Magnesium is an effective relaxant to the body and depleted by stress. B complex and Vitamin C help support adrenal function.

I hope these suggestions give you a starting point to steer yourself towards calmer waters.

“Health from the inside out.”

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Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she has been a consultant to the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Camosun College, Rugby Canada and Rowing Canada. P:778.433.4935 and www.kimmcqueen.com. Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble.