Herbal Medicine and Magnesium Relieve Anxiety


New Zealand has one of the highest rates of anxiety disorders in the world. Anxiety can be felt when well, in response to events that concern you; but prolonged anxiety can have a debilitating effect on all aspects of your life. Fortunately there are many naturopathic interventions that help.


Naturopaths can guide you through changes in lifestyle, exercise, relaxation, and diet that will make a huge difference to how you feel. In addition naturopaths can prescribe nutritional supplements and herbal medicines tailored to your total health needs so you will feel relaxed, and will have better overall health. 


Deficiency of  nutrients such as essential fatty acids,  B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, zinc, and calcium, can trigger anxiety disorders [1]. Of these, I have found magnesium to be the most helpful; and research also shows magnesium is most likely to be low [1-5]. Depending on other symptoms you may have, other nutrients may also be needed. Studies exploring magnesium found increasing magnesium helps to relieve anxiety [1, 6-8]; it acts on the nervous system in a similar way to pharmaceutical drugs (benzodiazepines) that are used to decrease anxiety [9]. Tension headaches, and general muscle tension, are commonly experienced with anxiety, and can also be relived with magnesium [5, 10-13].


To boost your magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, especially almonds, and seafood. If I do use a supplement, I recommend the Entire Katoa Food State range for the best absorption. You also need to check your diet for foods that can interfere with magnesium levels. Stop alcohol; this will deplete a number of important nutrients, including magnesium [14]. Cut out very sweet foods as sugars deplete magnesium levels [15, 16]. Grains may also affect magnesium absorption [17, 18], however, if you are cutting out grains I recommend you seek advice to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need.


For thousands of years herbs have been used to heal. There are numerous herbs that give relief from anxiety. The herbs given to help anxiety not only relieve your anxiety symptoms, but can also strengthen your nervous system. Herbal medicine can also help improve anxiety by strengthening other areas. Hormonal imbalances, poor adrenal gland function, impaired digestion, blood sugar imbalances, and low immunity can be related to the underlying cause of prolonged anxiety disorders. When herbs are used to support these areas the anxiety decreases. For example, prolonged stress or highly stressful events can impair the function of the adrenal gland.


The adrenal gland produces the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone; but too much or too little at the wrong time can cause problems such as anxiety and depression. Herbs that help support the adrenal glands and decrease anxiety include Rhodiola, Liquorice, Ginseng, Schisandra, and Hawthorn. Some of the herbs which directly decrease anxiety are Kava, Valerian, Vervain, Passionflower, Oats, Chamomile, Magnolia, Lemon Balm and Skullcap.


Many pharmaceutical medicines used for anxiety act as nerve messengers called neurotransmitters. The herbs Rhodiola, Valerian, Passionflower, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and Skullcap used naturally for centuries to relieve anxiety, have now been shown to also act on the neurotransmitters.


Contact Bay Health Clinic today to find out more or to book a consultation with one of our Naturopaths; if needed they will also prepare tailored herbal medicines and recommend supplements to help you feel your best.  Call 07 571 3226 or email us: ask@bayhealth.nz


Original Article October 2012

Copyright Jaine Kirtley




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