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 . 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 . 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 . 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Original Article October 2012
Copyright Jaine Kirtley
1. Starobrat-Hermelin B, Kozielec T: The effects of magnesium physiological supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Positive response to magnesium oral loading test. Magnesium research: official organ of the International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium 1997, 10(2):149.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9368236
2. Grimaldi BL: The central role of magnesium deficiency in Tourette's syndrome: causal relationships between magnesium deficiency, altered biochemical pathways and symptoms relating to Tourette's syndrome and several reported comorbid conditions. Med Hypotheses 2002, 58(1):47-60.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11863398
3. Jung KI, Ock SM, Chung JH, Song CH: Associations of serum Ca and Mg levels with mental health in adult women without psychiatric disorders. Biol Trace Elem Res 2010, 133(2):153-161.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19543697
4. Grases G, Perez-Castello JA, Sanchis P, Casero A, Perello J, Isern B, Rigo E, Grases F: Anxiety and stress among science students. Study of calcium and magnesium alterations. Magnes Res 2006, 19(2):102-106.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16955721
6. Spasov AA, Iezhitsa IN, Kharitonova MV, Kravchenko MS: [Depression-like and anxiety-related behaviour of rats fed with magnesium-deficient diet]. Zh Vyssh Nerv Deiat Im I P Pavlova 2008, 58(4):476-485.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18825946
7. Hanus M, Lafon J, Mathieu M: Double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a fixed combination containing two plant extracts (Crataegus oxyacantha and Eschscholtzia californica) and magnesium in mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders. Curr Med Res Opin 2004, 20(1):63-71.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14741074
8. Fromm L, Heath DL, Vink R, Nimmo AJ: Magnesium attenuates post-traumatic depression/anxiety following diffuse traumatic brain injury in rats. J Am Coll Nutr 2004, 23(5):529S-533S.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466958
12. Seelig MS: Consequences of magnesium deficiency on the enhancement of stress reactions; preventive and therapeutic implications (a review). J Am Coll Nutr 1994, 13(5):429-446.http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/abstract/13/5/429
13. Altura BM, Altura BT: Tension headaches and muscle tension: is there a role for magnesium? Medical hypotheses 2001, 57(6):705-713.http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0306987701914392?showall=true
15. Tajmir-Riahi HA: Magnesium-sugar interaction. Synthesis, spectroscopic and structural characterization of Mg-sugar complexes containing beta-D-fructose. Biophys Chem 1986, 23(3-4):223-228.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17007791
18. Bohn T, Davidsson L, Walczyk T, Hurrell RF: Phytic acid added to white-wheat bread inhibits fractional apparent magnesium absorption in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 2004, 79(3):418-423.http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/79/3/418