The terrorist attack on the LBGT community in Orlando Florida, political debates, and daily news bulletins are causing everyone to experience heightened stress right now. Then add in any daily stress physical or emotional you are already currently dealing with. Stress is a nasty sneak which affects your sleep, mood and overall health making you to feel miserable.
Stress not only amplifies anxiety and depression it also weakens the immune system. A weaker immune increases the risk of becoming sick or accentuates the health problems that you already have. For instance with stress you are more likely to catch a cold / sinus infection or develop shingles. If you currently have arthritis or an autoimmune disorder symptoms will get worse. Stress can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammation, and even a heart attack!
Anything that elevates stress can bring on feelings of anxiety
- Trauma from events such as terrorism, abuse, an accident, the death of a loved one, being attacked, diagnosis of a disease, being in a dangerous situation such as a war zone
- Stress in a personal relationships
- Stress at work, school, or home due to overloading responsibilities
- Stress about finances and money
- Lack of quality sleep
- Fear about new situations
- Stress about the holidays
There are many prescription medications which can increase anxiety: Asthma medicines, such as albuterol, salmeterol, and theophylline. Hormones: such as oral contraceptives, Hormone replacement and Thyroid medications. Prescriptions which contain amphetamines: such as Benzedrine, Dexedrine, and Ritalin. Steroids: including cortisone, dexamethasone, and prednisone. As well as other medications: such as phenytoin, levodopa, quinidine, and some antidepressants, over the counter decongestants and combination cold remedies.
Weight loss supplements come with anxiety-producing side effects including green tea extracts, guarana, kelp and green coffee bean. Drinking large amounts of coffee or alcohol does not help either.
The best way to resolve anxiety is to determine what the contributing factors are causing this problem and eliminate as many as possible and find non-anxiety producing substitutes instead. This means you need to evaluate your diet, lifestyle, medications, supplements and health concerns. Counseling with a psychologist or social worker can be helpful as well as hypnosis.
When stress is all around you there are lots of things you can do naturally without side effects or addictiveness to tone down the over reactions.
- L-Theanine (Jarrow Formulas) is an amino acid found in green tea and extracted out. It helps to calm the mind of racing or worrying thoughts without making you sleepy. In fact it actually helps to make you more focused, less distracted and overwhelmed. We have found in our practice to be safe with most medication and safe for children. Theanine can also help you sleep (although it does not cause sleepiness) as it calms your thoughts before bed, thus allowing you to fall into a natural sleep.
- Relora (Lifetime Vitamins) is an herbal combination of magnolia and phellodenron which have a calming effect on the adrenal glands (which activate the fight or flight hormones). This adrenaline rush often precipitates panic attacks. Relora helps to keep the adrenals from over reacting in stressful situations without making you sleepy.
- GABA (Enzymatic Therapy) Gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages through the brain and the nervous system, and is involved in regulating communication between brain cells. The role of GABA is to inhibit or reduce the activity of the neurons or nerve cells. GABA plays an important role in behavior, cognition, and the body's response to stress. Research suggests that GABA helps to control fear and anxiety when neurons become overexcited. Lower-than-normal levels of GABA in the brain have been linked to schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
- Calm & Calmer (Lifetime Vitamins) is a supplement that contains L-Theanine and Relora and Rhodiola rosea. Rhodiola relieves stress by balancing the body’s stress-response system. This consists of the sympathetic nervous system (which prepares the body to expend energy during crises, often described as the “fight or flight response”) and the counterbalancing parasympathetic nervous system (which recharges and heals the body, returning it to a relaxed state). Rhodiola helps re-establish balance by acting as an adaptogen— strengthens the body’s response to physical, mental, and emotional stressors stress by influencing key brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, and natural feel-good opioids such as beta-endorphins
- Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower) is a combination flower essence that helps to diminish overwhelming emotions, particularly when they are unpredictable. It is handy to carry around with you in your pocket or purse. Just few drops in the mouth or topically as often as needed. It also comes as a lozenge and cream. Best of all you can’t overdose on Rescue remedy and it is safe for any age and does not interfere with medication.
- Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer. If you are feeling tense tight muscles with anxiety try taking some Magnesium in the morning and before you go to bed to help ease away the tension. Just be careful as it also acts as a stool softener, which is great if you have chronic constipation, but can be problematic if you already experience loose stools. Always start with the lowest dosage and work up slowly to bowel tolerance (where the stools get soft) and the cut back to what is tolerable. Magnesium is also beneficial for lowering blood pressure.
- Relax-o-zyme (Enzymatic Therapy) is a somewhat more potent natural relaxer which contains premium extracts of valerian, passion flower, and hops. These herbs are combined with nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, which are important for proper nervous system function. It is particularly beneficial for stress that causes neck and back tension/tightness or tension headaches.
- Passion Flower is and herb The University of Maryland Medical Center states has shown in a few studies to work as well as some of the benzodiazepine medications that are usually prescribed for treating anxiety. Bonus—side effects like daytime drowsiness were fewer with passionflower.
- Sleep Optimizer (Jarrow Formulas) is a great sleep formula that consistently helpful with our patients and customers who have difficulty getting to or staying asleep. This unique formula combine’s herbs and amino acids that work together to facilitate falling asleep and maintaining a regular sleep cycle. Including: Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), lemon balm, and L-tryptophan promote relaxation. The combination of valerian and hops flower has been studied for its effect on reducing latency (the delay before entry into sleep). Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that controls the biological clock and signals the entry into sleep.* Our biological clock can be disturbed by stress, crossing time zones, and changing work shifts.
There are numerous other herbs that can help anxiety such as valerian, chamomile, hops, lavender, lemon balm (Melissa), and kava kava to name a few. Often you can find these in combination formulas as well.
In these difficult times it is even more important to get proactive about stress. The sooner you defuse it and the better you will feel! Appointments (Telephone & In-Office) available 508-336-4242.
Jane Jansen Naturopath Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center
Host Holistic Healthline Radio