Natural Ways to Reduce Anxiety by Dr. Mike Cockrell, M.D.

Anxiety is a natural response that serves an important function. When the brain senses a threat, anxiety raises our awareness. It puts us on alert so we can prepare to deal with the perceived threat and stay out of harm’s way. Often a real fear or perceived fear exacerbates the body’s normal response, and sometimes, the body reacts in ways that can be harmful.

In today’s fast-paced world, we constantly face situations in which our brains perceive danger. Being under constant stress can create a cortisol response that mimics the body’s natural fear response and fools the brain into believing that we are in danger.

Prolonged anxiety can lead to panic attacks, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, trembling, insomnia, digestive and stomach problems, fatigue, weight gain, and hormonal imbalances. Estimates suggest that approximately 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety. Anxiety can cause unnecessary stress and emotional pain. In this article, I would like to share some natural approaches to anxiety management.

Foods That Impact Anxiety

Several food may help alleviate anxiety. Foods rich in B vitamins, such as grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, poultry, and leafy green vegetables can help reduce anxiety. In addition, magnesium-rich foods, such as nuts, avocados, and sea vegetables, can be helpful. In fact, many people are magnesium deficient. Taking a high quality magnesium supplement might serve you well. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild caught salmon, are also great for the brain. If you struggle to incorporate sufficient fish in your diet, you might consider taking a high quality Omega-3 supplement.

On the other hand, some foods may contribute to increased anxiety. Avoid foods that contain large amounts of refined sugar and refined flour. These foods can cause blood sugar fluctuations, which affect your mood. Similarly, caffeine, which is a stimulant, can contribute to increased anxiety. Alcohol, which a depressant, can impact your mood negatively.

Natural Remedies That Impact Anxiety

Several herbs may help decrease anxiety and improve your mood. For centuries, people have used ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb, to help alleviate anxiety and offset harmful effects of stress.

Incorporating certain high quality amino acids, vitamins, and mineral supplements into your diet may be beneficial. Studies suggest that 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a chemical that the body makes from an essential amino acid in food called tryptophan, helps increase serotonin levels in the brain. Additional serotonin calms the mind, improves mood, and relieves anxiety. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that relaxes muscles and decreases anxiety in the nervous system. B vitamins help combat stress and improve mood. As we age, absorption of the B vitamins may become impaired. In addition, alcohol consumption may affect our ability to absorb vitamin B. Magnesium and calcium also have a calming effect on the nervous system.

In addition, evidence suggests that lavender essential oil reduces anxiety and relaxes the body. Applying a few drops of a lavender oil to your neck may help relieve anxiety. In addition, placing a couple of drops on your pillow at night may help you sleep better.