Naturopathic Medicine and Anxiety DisordersTreating Anxiety with Naturopathic Medicine
Anxiety can present itself in a variety of ways. It can be a slow, silent burn that you do not even realize is affecting you until it manifests in unexpected ways or it can takeover your daily life as it continually presses down on you like a lead weight.

Either way anxiety disorders account for being the “most common mental illness in the U.S. affecting 40 million adults…age 18 and older (18% of the U.S. population)” according to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).

It can be attributed to a long list of causes and reactions which are treated in only about one third of those who suffer making many believe that the above number of those afflicted could be much higher.

The ADAA lists the following as some of the top anxiety disorder diagnoses:

  • GAD (General Anxiety Disorder)
  • OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • Panic Disorder
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Major Depression

Conventional medicine has been band-aiding anxiety disorders for centuries. This approach consists of quelling symptoms and suppressing deep rooted feelings that could be directly related to anxiety with a long list of pharmaceutical cocktails. Whether an antidepressant, anti-anxiety or sleeping pill many Americans seem to be numbed by many of these while struggling with a laundry list of potential side effects. These include dry mouth, nausea, headache, low libido, digestive difficulties, kidney and liver challenges to name a few.

Naturopathic medicine approaches anxiety disorders from a variety of angles that attempt to tap into the body’s deep healing capabilities. A naturopathic doctor will assess the full spectrum of presentations rather than only target symptoms. A standard examination and ordered diagnostic tests similar to a conventional medical practitioner may be performed however further intake will also be considered by a naturopathic doctor. This entails a detailed search for obvious to subtle ‘clues’ such as:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Habits
  • Sleep
  • Emotional state
  • Skin color
  • Tongue color
  • Eye color/markings
  • Various pulse point responses
  • Bowel evacuation history

These ‘clues’ enable a naturopathic doctor to determine the proper remedy protocol for each specific affliction including anxiety disorders. Using a variety of therapies to relieve or even reverse such psychological challenges offers the body a chance to tap into a wide array of healing mechanisms rather than be ‘tricked’ or ‘manipulated’ into tamping down symptoms. Whether it is botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy and/or nutraceutical supplementation naturopathic medicine may be the option you or a loved one could benefit from if struggling with an anxiety disorder.

Botanical Sedation
For many suffering from anxiety disorders there is often the feeling of a static ‘storm’ swirling within their head. This can disrupt focus and sleep making days and nights that much more difficult to handle. Conventional medicine may use numbing prescription sedatives to quell these symptoms however in many cases it can make the patient feel confused, foggy, lethargic and robot-like. Naturopathic medicine turns to many botanical remedies specifically prescribed to calm while still enabling clear headed functioning. These include single or a combination of botanicals such as:

  • Valerian – Insomnia relief.
  • Chamomile – Compounds in this tea have shown to bind to the same calming brain receptors as the prescription drug Valium.
  • Hops – Usually mixed with other herbs to relieve its bitterness offering a meditative response.
  • L-theanine – Found in green tea and shown to curb rising heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Lemon Balm – Reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Passion Flower – For nervous restlessness and insomnia.
  • Lavender – Sometimes called an “emotional anti-inflammatory” lavender is often used as an aroma remedy to calm and de-stress.
  • Kava – This South Pacific plant has been linked to alleviating GAD symptoms by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne (Australia) as reported by Healthline News 5/17/13.

Food for Thought and the Supplemental Front
In many cases anxiety disorders have been attributed to a lacking vitamin, mineral, amino acid or enzyme. According to a study entitled ‘Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review’ published in the 2010 vol 9, page 42 of Nutrition Journal it was concluded that, “Based on the available evidence, it appears that nutritional and herbal supplementation is an effective method for treating anxiety and anxiety-related conditions without the risk of serious side effects.”

Clinical Nutrition and Nutraceutical Supplementation can be implemented by a naturopathic doctor as a twofold approach to dealing with anxiety disorders.

Clinical Nutrition is a detailed adjustment of each individual’s nutritional intake. This entails adding or detracting brain and body stimulating compounds found in specific foods capable of relieving and in some cases remedying certain anxiety disorders. For instance, bananas, nuts, eggs, beans, fish, turkey, whole-grain breads, crackers, pasta, rice, cereal, and fruit have all been linked to assisting in the release of serotonin which is a natural mood enhancing chemical found in the brain. SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) is a common class of prescription drugs that increase serotonin production. In addition, these and many other foods contain tryptophan which acts as a mild sedative and precursor to serotonin release.

Alongside Clinical Nutrition can be the incorporation of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and/or amino acids. This is known as Nutraceutical Supplementation which may be needed to assist in anxiety disorder treatment.

A study published in 2013 conducted by the Department of Emergency Medicine, Atago Hospital, Japan concluded that, “…low serum concentrations of Vit B6 and iron are involved in PA [panic attacks] and HVA [hyperventilation attacks].”

Another study by the Institute of Psychiatry in London found that, “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with late-life depression in northern latitudes.”

A naturopathic doctor can determine each individual nutraceutical supplementation protocol to incorporate along with other naturopathic remedies.

Tweaking the Vibration
Homeopathy is a 200+ year old practice of a like-cures-like approach to health ailments. It works by extracting the ‘vibration’ of a particular plant, mineral or animal source that if ingested whole would result in a similar presentation of that considered ailment. In essence, this approach has the potential to ‘burn out’ the ailment similar to a separate fire being built to stop a forest fire. A study conducted by Duke University professor of psychiatry Jonathan Davidson, MD, found that 60% of adults with major depression, social phobia, or panic disorder responded favorably to homeopathic treatment. Dr. Davidson comments, “When one recognizes the considerable safety in using homeopathic medicines, it is remarkable that the majority of psychiatrists and psychologists are not referring appropriate patients to homeopaths prior to having powerful conventional drugs prescribed for them.”

Scores of other research papers and clinical studies can be cited relating anxiety disorder to one or more nutritional or vibrational deficiencies. Working with your naturopathic doctor who can determine the proper dosage of these and many other approaches could lead you or a loved one down a path of healing longevity without toxic side effects. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or CLICK HERE to schedule an online appointment.

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