Natural Health Tips

Relieve Stress and Anxiety with Natural Relaxants

Many people suffer from anxiety and feel stressed out during day-to-day life. Feelings and symptoms of stress affect most of us, from becoming anxious and tense easily, to suffering from headaches, muscle tension, dry mouth, pounding heart, insomnia and fatigue.

When faced with an intense of constant feeling of stress, many people turn to anti-anxiety drugs like tranquilizers, which may be effective at reducing anxiety in the short term, but long-term use has actually found them to increase depression and anxiety; they are highly addictive and can have unpleasant side-effects. An effective alternative is to use natural relaxants.

States of anxiety are associated with the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. It is well known that blood sugar ups and downs and over-use of stimulants like caffeine can cause stress. So the first step towards reducing anxiety is to balance your blood sugar by eating slow-release carbohydrates and to considerably reduce, or avoid altogether, the use of stimulants. This alone can have a big effect in reducing anxiety, but there are also other amino acids, minerals and herbs that can help the body to relax.

Natural Relaxants

Taurine

Taurine is another relaxing amino acid, helping you to unwind and relax from high levels of adrenalin. Taurine has many other uses as well, including benefits for depression and insomnia.

Taurine is found in highly concentrated form in animal foods such as fish, eggs and meat.

Calming Herbs

Two very effective anti-anxiety herbs are kava and valerian. Kava is a member of the pepper family and it is the root of the plant that is used in drinks and dried to make supplements. Many studies have demonstrated this herb to provide significant relief from anxiety, even as effectively as leading tranquilizer medicines, but without the side-effects. [1]

Valerian is another highly effective anti-anxiety herb. It is derived from the dried rhizomes and roots of the valerian plant, and acts as a natural relaxant by enhancing the brain's natural calming receptors.

Many herbs can interact with other medicines, so if you are on prescribed medication consult your doctor before taking any.

magnesium

Magnesium is another important nutrient that helps you relax, and is also commonly deficient. Magnesium relaxes both the mind and muscles; therefore symptoms of a deficiency can include muscle aches and cramps, as well as anxiety and insomnia.

Seeds and nuts are rich in magnesium, as well as fruits and vegetables, but especially high are dark green leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach.

Remove the Culprits

Supplementing to alleviate anxiety is vital, but there are also substances in the body that if reduced or controlled can help you to feel calmer.

Chemical Imbalances

While blood sugar levels and low magnesium levels are some reasons for reacting stressfully, they are not the only biochemical imbalances that can lead to anxiety. A study carried out by researcher Dr Carl Pfeiffer in the 1970s found that patients suffering from severe anxiety had very low levels of histamine in the body, and many also had high levels of copper, a toxic element when in excess, which can further depress histamine levels. Histamine is an important protein involved in many allergic reactions, and helps blood vessels to dilate. It was found that supplementing with the nutrients niacin, folic acid, vitamins B12, C and zinc all helped to lower high levels of copper, and increase histamine.

Lactic Acid

Panic attacks are a common symptom of anxiety, and there is often a biochemical imbalance behind many of these conditions, usually too much lactic acid. When muscles don't get enough oxygen, they make energy from glucose without it. Lactic acid is a by-product of this process. A study found that giving patients prone to anxiety attacks lactic acid, induced an anxiety attack. [2]

Lactic acid levels also increase during hyperventilation, which many people do when suffering an anxiety attack. This changes the acid level of the blood and the body produces more lactic acid. This solution is to breathe deeply into a paper bag, helping to redress the balance. Blood sugar dips can also bring on hyperventilation, so keep blood sugar levels even by eating little and often.

Summary

While there are many causes of anxiety and stress, a few simple measures can allow you to control these feelings and symptoms. Balancing blood sugar, reducing stimulants, ensuring optimum nutrition, plus including these natural anti-anxiety herbs and nutrients into your diet can all help to beat stress and reduce anxiety naturally.

References

  • [1] Volz HP, Kieser M. Kava-kava extract WS 1490 versus placebo in anxiety disorders. Pharmacopsychiatry, Vol 30, 1997, pp.1-5.

  • [2] Pitts FN, McClure JN. Lactate metabolism in anxiety neurosis, New Engl J Med, Vol 227, 1967, pp.1328-36.