In this high-stress, time-constrained, frantic world we live in today, it is no wonder that millions of people suffer from anxiety. While drugs like Xanax, Valium and Klonopin are popular and work well, they can be highly addictive with many unwanted side effects. Some of the following natural treatments can work nearly as well and offer a far better long term solution:
An ancient practice that dates back thousands of years, meditation has been thoroughly researched, and its ability to relieve stress and anxious feelings proven time and time again. There are many types of meditation, but the most studies have been done on a form called Transcendental Meditation, or TM. TM and its remarkable benefits on overall health has been studied extensively by Dr. Herbert Benson, and was outlined in his classic book “The Relaxation Response”. There are many instructional books, videos and classes available on TM and it is definitely worth the time investment to learn this unique form of meditation.
L-theanine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in high amounts in green tea. It is available in concentrated capsules as a supplement. It has been called “meditation in a bottle” and for good reason; research has shown that it can actually change brain waves to match those achieved by deep meditation, and usually in 30 minutes or less. For best results, try 100 -200 mg. of L- thiamine on a empty stomach.
Exercise has been a long known antidote to stress and anxiety. This is due, in large part, to the workings of our natural in-born fight or flight mechanism; In response to stress or perceived threat, our bodies produce chemicals that help us to either stay and fight hard, or escape quickly. Thousands of years ago, this was very helpful, and the fighting or running would help naturally dissipate these chemicals. In today’s world, however, fighting or running away are rarely appropriate responses to modern day stressors, and as a result these chemicals never have a chance to fully dissipate. The continual presence of these chemicals in the body can produce those stressed out, anxious feelings. Exercise helps resolve this problem; getting your body moving is like incorporating a “flight” response into your routine, and allows all those anxiety producing substances to dissipate. Aim for 20-30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise at least 4 times per week.
4. St. John’s Wort
While most people know St. John’s Wort as a treatment for depression, many are not aware that it can also be quite effective in treating anxiety. Like traditional antidepressants, St. John’s Wort is thought to raise levels of serotonin in the brain, which can produce feelings of calm and relaxation. The usual dosage is 900 mg. per day in divided doses. The major drawback for this therapy is that it usually takes 4-6 weeks to see the full benefits.
Another ancient practice that dates back thousands of years, yoga has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the past few decades. There are multiple health benefits of yoga, one of which is relieving anxiety. There are many how-to books and videos available, but taking a few classes in the beginning is probably best.
Most people know instinctively that a massage is relaxing, and after a few minutes of hands-on experience with a professional, there is little doubt that it can alleviate anxiety, albeit temporarily. Although anxiety may start in the mind, it is often stored in the body and by relaxing the body with massage, you can usually relax the mind. The main drawback for this stress-buster is cost. If you can afford it, try a 30 minute massage once a week.
7. Tai chi
Another stress reliever from the ancient world, Tai Chi has been practiced in China for hundreds of years by millions of people. It combines elements of exercise, meditation, stretching and deep breathing for an overall health-boosting, anxiety-relieving experience. There are many instructional videos and books available to learn Tai Chi, but as with yoga, a few classes in the beginning would be a good idea.
5-HTP is an amino acid extracted from African griffonia seeds. Like St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP raises levels of serotonin in the brain, although the mechanism of action is slightly different. The result is the same; more feelings of calm and less feelings of anxiety. Recommended dosage is 50-300 mg. per day, usually at night before bed.