Herbs: Natural Way to beat stress and anxiety

SAME BLOG TITLE AS MENTAL HEALTH BLOG POST

Looking for a Natural Way to beat stress and anxiety?

By Jeremy Brown, Naturopath 

(Adv. Dip. Nat.)

Picture it now. You’re in a busy office, with a full inbox and you are one stressed out worker. The more work that you did, the more that came in. The cycle seemed endless. Many people, not just office workers, can relate to this picture. But you don’t just have to be in an office. Many mothers, teachers or any person with pressure on their demands have experienced some type of stress of anxiety. In fact, the statistics stat that over 450 million people suffer from a mental health disorder of some type. It’s likely that you know one of these people, and its even possible that you are that person. In fact, one of the most Googled health terms in 2012 was depression, just after cancer and diabetes. 

Often in clinic I see patients who struggle with these challengers on a day-to-day basis, as it seems that because I could handle talking about them, patients felt safe to share these challengers. Regards of the medicine you practice, I’m seeing more and more that patients simply want one thing: results. And results that last. A patient may not be completely interested in the detailed philosophy of Naturopathic medicine, but they do want the stress, anxiety or depression to go away. And if there is a natural way to achieve that without drugs, with minimal side effects or little to no addictions, then it’s my job to achieve that. 

Nutrition:

Good diet and nutrition is the corner stone of any recovery from disease. Many patients expect me to put them on an “everything free” diet. But my clinical advice is usually simple: eat well. By well I mean unpackaged (organic if possible), freshly prepared and a colourful diet. Nature was very wise when choosing to colour herself and the more colourful your meal is, the far better. This insures that you are getting the whole spectrum of nutrition and maxising vitamin and mineral intake.  Specific minerals you can take to relieve stress and anxiety include Magnesium (best at night and in the Chelate form), Potassium (crucial for nerve impulse and transmission) and the B group vitamins. Essential Fatty acids from fish or flaxseed are called essential because the body cannot make it and we must either find it from diet or supplementation. Essential Fatty Acids help the nerves function at their best.

Herbal Medicine:

We are finding out more and more about the ancient use of plants as medicinal substances and we still have much to learn. I will break down the following plants into two categories: anxiolytic (reduces anxiety) and adaptogenic (supports the stress response). 

Anxiolytic:

Piper methysticum (Kava)

Islanders have used kava for thousands of years. And recently, people have invested in research. Kava has a unique effect. While on one hand it will reduce anxiety, on the other hand it will enhance mental sharpness. This is important when you still need to perform or have a job to do.

Passinflora incarnata (Passionflower)

Passionflower has a rich history in Western Herbal medicine tradition. Modern science is finally catching up with its value and a Cochrane review (the gold standard of independent Medical reviews) reviewed two trials of 198 patients. One trial compared Passionflower to a modern pharmaceutical drug mexazolam (a drug for anxiety) and found no differences in patient outcome. The bonus is however; that Passionflower was not only effective, but it also had fewer side effects.

Adaptogenic: 

Withania somnifera (Withania)

Withania has been used by Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is classified as ‘rasayana’, a medicine that is used to increase physical and mental performance. Although there is little in the form of human trials, studies have shown that those suffering from fatigue have seem to have greater endurance than controls (no treatment) highlighting its medicinal value. 

(Wardle & Sarris 2010)

(Hechtman 2012)

These are but a few nutritional guidelines and three effective herbal medicines used to treat stress and anxiety. Many are available over the counter in different combinations. It is worth mentioning that talking to a professional therapist is always helpful and your family GP is a good place to start. However if you are after natural solutions to life’s challenges, please like us on Facebook and continue to follow this Blog. 

-Jeremy Brown 

Naturopathic practitioner

Principle- 

Brown’s Wellbeing Centre

McMahons Point.

www.brownswellbeingcentre.com.au

www.facebook.com/brownswellbeingcentre

www.twitter.com/jbrown_nat

References:

Hechtman L. 2012, Clinical Naturopathic medicine, Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier Australia, Sydney, Australia.

Wardle J. & Sarris J. 2010, Clinical Naturopathy, Elsevier Australia, Chatswood, N.S.W.

Braun L & Cohen M. 2010, Herbs and Natural supplements. Elsevier Australian, Chatswood. NSW

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs220/en/

http://medcitynews.com/2012/12/googles-top-health-searches-for-2012-cancer-pregnancy-symptoms-and-hemorrhoid/#ixzz2t4z5Bjyh

*Please note that this advice is of a general nature and does not replace the instruction of your health care practitioner.

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