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Anxiety

General characteristics

General characteristics

Anxiety is a state of tension, apprehension and fear in the absence of any real threat or danger. It can be acute, relating to a dread or worry about an upcoming event or occurrence or chronic, presenting as more prolonged, non-specific general worry. It is normal for us to experience anxiety throughout our lives in response to new situations, stressful meetings, or when facing a fearful situation for example. This type of anxiety is usually temporary and its effects are fleeting. Long term anxiety is more debilitating and depletes the nervous system and general vitality of the body as a whole and warrants nutritional, herbal and emotional support.

Symptoms of anxiety include a raise in temperature and/or sweating, rapid heart rate, lightheadedness/dizziness, legs buckling, feelings of impending danger, trembling, inability to concentrate, dry mouth etc.

Anxiety can be caused by fear and apprehension but also from physical problems such as thyroid imbalance, hormonal changes and as a result of trauma, both physical and emotional, poor diet, low blood sugar, menopause, puberty, excessive coffee or alcohol consumption or even lack of exercise.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Make sure that you sleep well and deeply, use herbs such as hops, passionflower and valerian before bedtime to help. See 'insomnia' in the common ailments section of this site for more herbs and recipes.

Eat at regular times and start the day with a breakfast of oat based cereal or muesli as oats feed and soothe the nerves. 3 good meals a day will keep blood sugar levels more even and less erratic. See also 'hypoglycaemia' in the common ailments section for ideas on diet, lifestyle and herbs if erratic and low blood sugar are suspected.

Avoid too many carbohydrates and sugary foods due to their effects on blood sugar balance.

Eat an apple a day!

Avoid tea and coffee and other caffeinated stimulating drinks which deplete the body of vitamin B1 leading to a state of general anxiety.

Avoid smoking as it raises the blood pressure and can produce anxiety.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

For long term anxiety or if you suffer regular bouts use the adaptogenic herbs such as siberian ginseng, ashwagandha in tincture form to support your nervous system and protect the adrenal glands from the effects of stress.

Use relaxing nervines like chamomile, lemon balm, lime blossom, hops, motherwort, heartsease, passionflower, elderflower and valerian either as a tea or tincture.

Crampbark can help to relax the muscles, dilate blood vessels and soothe away tension.

More supporting, soothing and tonic nervines include st johns wort, black cohosh, vervain, skullcap, wood betony. You could also add some damiana, especially if anxiety alternates with bouts of depression.

Support the heart with hawthorn berries and flowers and motherwort.

Feed the nervous system with minerals and B vitamins by drinking a daily tea of nettle, oatstraw and alfalfa leaves.

Celery seeds can also help with anxiety, acting as a nerve tonic and reducing tension in the body.

Angelica root can also help to reduce anxiety and induce a more meditative and receptive state of mind when used sporadically in small doses and as part of a formula.

Ginkgo may also be useful when added to formulas.

 

Evening primrose capsules help with premenstrual anxiety.

Natural healing

Natural healing

The following flower remedies are very useful to carry with you, ready mixed in a small bottle...aspen, mimulus, red chestnut, elm, rock rose and of course rescue remedy.

 

A good supplement including calcium (make sure it is an inorganic, easily absorbed form of calcium) B vitamins and magnesium can help restore a more calm and controlled state of mind.

 

Yoga, meditation, regular massage and the like will help to work off the effects of long term stress and give strength to face new challenges with less fear and anxiety.

 

Read up on the vagus nerve and how to stimulate it through breathing patterns and many other techniques. The vagus nerve is associated with states of calm and brings the body into parasympathetic nervous system dominance as opposed to sympathetic (fright or flight) dominance. This link give sa simple technique on how to use breathing techniques to activate the vagus nerve and calm anxiety.

 

Singing or humming to yourself also stimulates the vagus nerve, regulates the breathing and can induce calm very quickly. Sounds so simple but it has worked beautifully for me in the past, mid panic attack!

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