Do you ever have constant worry niggling at the back of your mind? Wondering if you’re ever going to get everything done? Wondering how you’re going to meet that deadline at work, remember the numerous appointments, meetings and responsibilities of family life? Are you constantly running the kids from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and then remembering what time to pick them up whilst also wondering what to cook for dinner, get to the shops to pick up the ingredients, take the dog to the vet, get some cleaning done and pay the bills – all in the space of 8 hours?
And that’s only one small part of it.
Retired people also suffer from anxiety but for a multitude of different reasons.
Anxiety is not only a silent epidemic in today’s society but it is also an insidious and debilitating one. It removes the pleasure and joy from one’s life so that the day to day endless worrying about “things”, situation or events eventually takes its toll on one’s nervous system and ultimately their mental and physical health. Not to mention robbing them of noticing and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
It turns every day into a momentous effort with the only seeming relief being the escape when you sleep at night – if you can.
Anxiety is not just being stressed or worried about something in particular – although even just one situation or event can cause constant worry which turns into anxiety. When you are in a constant state of worry and the feelings don’t subside they can turn into anxiety.
Anxiety can come in a variety of different forms such as generalized anxiety, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobic disorders.
Australians use of anti-depressants has doubled over the last decade second only to Iceland, the nation with the higher rate of the use of these drugs. Anti-depressants range from Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s), Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI’s), Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s), Benzodiazepines and Beta Blockers.
However, they all come with severe warnings, side effects and sometimes strict dietary rules – and they can become addictive.
Fortunately, herbal remedies can be just as effective, much easier on the body and little to no side effects. They are also not addictive.
Examples of excellent herbal remedies to treat anxiety are:
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) – helps to dampen symptoms of anxiety. It’s gentle sedative properties produce a soothing and relaxing effect, reducing symptoms of nervous over-activity and panic. It’s ability to reduce anxiety makes it a valuable herb for many nervous states and is also used to treat conditions such as asthma, palpitations, high blood pressure and even cramps. In these cases the antispasmodic and tranquilising properties are the key to its usefulness, reducing the over-activity responsible for these disorders.
Withania (Withania somnifera) or Ashwaganda as it’s also called – is an excellent herb valued in Ayurvedic Medicine as well as Traditional Western Medicine for reducing over-activity and encouraging rest and relaxation. In Ayurvedic medicine it is also valued for its tonic and strengthening properties, especially for those suffering from overwork or nervous exhaustion. It is also a restorative tonic for the elderly and chronically ill and counters the debility that comes with long term stress. The withanolides that this herb contains are similar to the body’s own steroid hormones making it an excellent anti-inflammatory whilst also containing a high iron content.
Valerian (Valerianan officinalis) – this is well known as a central nervous system depressant and combines well with Skullcap for the relief of tension and Hops for Insomnia. It is a sedative for the agitated person whilst also an excellent treatment for anxiety, nervous tension and even headaches. Being an antispasmodic herb it will also help in the relief of cramp and can help where there is pain associated with tension.
Skullcap (Sculletaria laterifolia) – this herb relaxes states of nervous tension whilst at the same time renewing and reviving the central nervous system. It is good for treating anxiety, depression, insomnia and nervous headaches. It also has a specific use in the treatment of seizures and hysterical states as well as epilepsy. It is excellent for the use of exhausted or depressed conditions.
Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) – Used in Chinese Herbal Medicine since 100 A.D. this beautiful herb is used to support and nurture the wellbeing of the body and treat a plethora of ailments. The two active compounds (Honokiol) and (Magnolol) are up to 1000 times more potent than Vitamin E in antioxidant activity. These are also thought to contribute to Magnolia’s primary anti-anxiety and cortisol balancing effects. In studies Honokiol was compared with diazepam (Valium) and found to be four to five times stronger than diazepam in reducing anxiety without the side effects. Whilst diazepam reduces anxiety it also increases muscle relaxation (an affect that is not shared by honokiol). In cases where there are high cortisol effects from the anxiety, or disturbed sleep patterns due to the cortisol rising at the wrong time of the night, Magnolia is invaluable. As a side note for Magnolia’s incredible health benefits, it also has several powerful effects on acetylcholine levels in the brain offering potential benefits for Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s is a disease characterized by insufficient levels of acetylcholine along with a buildup of plaque in the brain disrupting the normal brain function.
For further information on treating anxiety through these or other herbal remedies, please feel free to contact Trudy Kither, Naturopath, Nature’s Temple, Palmwoods. Ph: 0408 900 596.