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Newsletter #9: Anxiety Treatment, Multivitamins, and more

October 2022


Clinical Focus- Natural Treatments for Anxiety

 

The Covid Pandemic, inflation, the falling stock market, housing prices, political unrest—  it seems the world is full of more than enough issues to generate anxiety in all of us. For many of us, these worries turn into full-fledged anxiety disorders. Data from the National Co-morbidity Study Replication (NCS-R), suggests an estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults aged 18 and older had an anxiety disorder in the past year, with a higher prevalence in females(23.4%) than for males(14.3%). An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

    According to the Harvard Medical School 2007. National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), among adults with an anxiety disorder, an estimated 22.8% had serious impairment and 33.7% had moderate impairment, which interfered with their daily lives.

 

What is Anxiety? Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.” Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States.  While there are many different types of anxiety disorders, they all share a common symptom: fear or worry that is out of proportion to the actuality of the situation.

Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, making it difficult to function in day-to-day life. Fortunately, there are a number of natural treatments for anxiety that have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms. Moreover, it is important to understand that anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their life.

 

 

 

Natural Treatment Options for Anxiety

 

EXERCISE.  Regular, aerobic exercise has long been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.  It also clearly improves sleep.  In order to use exercise for this purpose, it needs to be rather vigorous.  You will need an activity that makes you "huff and puff and break a sweat".  I would recommend approximately 150 minutes per week of this type of exercise to treat anxiety. Of course, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

 

TALK THERAPY.  It is important to recognize that no amount of medication or supplements will fix a bad relationship, hostile work environment or other painful life circumstances.  However, talk therapy with a therapist trained in this area can make a huge difference in recognizing the underlying problem and taking steps to correct it.  There is no shame in seeking the help of the therapist and many times this may be the treatment of choice. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10503307.2020.1729440

 

WEIGHTED BLANKETS.  A weighted blanket looks just like any other blanket. You probably wouldn’t notice any difference until you lift it and discover it’s much heavier than it should be. What gives weighted blankets their weight is their filling. Unlike standard blankets that might use feathers or polyester-type stuffing, weighted blankets are typically stuffed with glass beads or plastic pellets.

    Weighted blankets come in various sizes, often weighing between 3 and 30 pounds or more. You can also find weighted blankets for anxiety in many styles to match your décor, from bedspreads to ones that resemble knitted works of art. 

    A growing body of research supports using weighted blankets for anxiety. The consistent pressure of weighted blankets may replicate the benefits of deep pressure therapy and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. When your parasympathetic nervous system is active, feelings related to stress exposure begin to decline. Weighted blankets don’t require a prescription.

 

AYURVEDA.  This is an alternative medicine philosophy originating in INDIA over 5,000 years ago. Treatment combines natural products derived mainly from plants. Diet, exercise and lifestyle changes are also important components of Ayurveda.  For years I have prescribed a product called TRAN Q which has its origins in Ayurveda.  I have prescribed this with great success as a "natural XANAX".  It can be used on an as-needed basis to reduce stress and anxiety.  It can also aid in sleep.

It is a proprietary blend available through the Metagenics company. You can click HERE to order.

 

ASHWAGANDHA.  Withiania somnifera, known commonly as ASHWANGANDHA or winter cherry is an evergreen shrub in the nightshade family that grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. This is my first choice for long-term therapy.  It has been used very successfully to stabilize stress hormones and reduce overall anxiety.  It is usually taken twice daily.  Typical doses range from 250-500 mg twice daily.  Finding high-quality ASHWANGANDHA can sometimes be a problem.

 Recommended Ashwagandha brands can be found in my Anxiety Protocol by clicking here.

 

 

L-THEANINE.  This is an amino acid or building block of proteins found primarily in green and black tea and some mushrooms. L-Theanine can increase the brain hormones Serotonin, Dopamine and GABA which help regulate mood and sleep. It has very potent anti-anxiety properties when used regularly.  It is usually used twice daily or at bedtime to aid in sleep.  The typical dose is 100 mg twice daily. 

Recommended L-Theanine brands can be found in my Anxiety Protocol by clicking here.

 

 

DHEA. This  is one of the few true hormones that can be purchased over-the-counter.  It is normally made by the adrenal gland.  It is considered a sex hormone and can be converted into both ESTROGENS and TESTOSTERONE in the body.  Dosing and blood levels should be monitored by a physician.  Clinical evidence of its benefits for anxiety and depression is primarily in animal models and few human studies are available. I mention it here because I have used it successfully in clinical practice for years, especially in the elderly. It should be used with caution in anyone with a hormone sensitive cancer.

Recommended DHEA brands can be found in my Anxiety Protocol by clicking here.

 

 

Cannabidiol(CBD). This is a major component in cannabis(Marijuana). It can be obtained as a singular component without any traces of THC, which is the hallucinogenic component of Cannabis. While delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can have a bad rap for being intoxicating and anxiety-inducing, cannabidiol (CBD) can actually be used to relieve anxiety. Research supports this benefit, with several studies reinforcing the positive effects CBD can have on various anxiety conditions.

The brand becomes quite important here since there is a lot of very poorly processed CBD on the market that may have very little effect.   For my preferred brand click here. Typical dosing for anxiety is one daily.

 

MAGNESIUM. This is a mineral that is responsible for over 300 reactions in the human body. It is a natural muscle relaxant and can aid greatly in anxiety and sleep. Foods high in Magnesium include: Pumpkin seeds, Chia seeds, Spinach, Almonds, Cashews, Black beans, Peanut butter and Brown rice. The form of magnesium can make a significant difference in its overall effects. Magnesium Threonate is generally preferred for anxiety because it better penetrates the blood/brain barrier delivering the mineral where it counts- your brain.

Recommended Magnesium brands can be found in my Anxiety Protocol by clicking here.

 

 

Why not just take Xanax? XANAX and other antianxiety drugs do have a place in the treatment of acute anxiety when used for very short periods of time.  Typically uses would be after the death of a loved one or to treat fear of flying.  However, long-term use is frequently accompanied by a long list of side effects including fatigue, memory loss, depression, falls in the elderly and potential withdrawal syndrome if stopped suddenly.  There is evidence that long-term use of drugs like XANAX significantly increases the risk of dementia.


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