Dry mouth. Pounding heart. Sleepless nights.
When patients start complaining about these symptoms, you will recognize this unpleasant territory. These are the telltale signs of anxiety.
Problems related to anxiety, and how to deal with them, are a growing part of our national conversation about health and well-being, and people are increasingly looking for natural ways to manage them.
Finding the Root Cause of the Anxiety
Our always-connected digital culture, along with the disappearing boundaries between work and personal life, take a lot of well deserved blame for increased anxiety and sleeplessness among adults. Poor diet and not enough exercise are other contributing factors as well.
But lifestyle is not the only culprit.
Changing hormones can have a huge impact on anxiety levels, and these challenges cannot be controlled through behavioral changes alone.
The key is to uncover the root cause of the anxiety. If the symptoms are relatively minor, magnesium and theanine can help boost serotonin levels in the brain. If the anxiety is severe, it will take some fact finding to sort through the environmental and metabolic factors that may be causing the problem.
The patient’s blood work will help you discover elevated cortisol levels, and whether too much or too little of any hormone is making them feel unbalanced.
Supplements & Strategies For Managing Anxiety
In most cases, a combination of lifestyle adjustments and relaxation techniques, coupled with a strategic supplement protocol can help your patient get back on track.
I say “strategic” because many supplements that help people relax and get focused can also make them drowsy. Tryptophan is great example of this. It’s a great amino acid for relaxation, but it can make you feel sluggish (like you do after a big turkey meal at Thanksgiving). If the patient needs help staying focused, Bacopa may be a good option.
Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (Gaba)
Gaba is another amino acid, produced by the brain to rein in the neurons firing across the grey matter. If someone doesn't have enough Gaba, the neurons can become too active, which can lead to chronic anxiety. Gaba production can be supported by vitamin B6 and magnesium. These might be included with a supplement or taken independently to help boost a patient’s Gaba levels.
Many physicians recommend magnesium as a starting point, especially for people struggling with stress-related stomach issues.
This amino acid occurs naturally in green tea. Because of its similarity to the excitatory neurochemical, glutamate, L Theanine is able to block its production, which helps reduce anxiety and promotes calming. Our Serenity Now supplement is one example. It’s a chewable that contains Suntheanine®, Brand L-Theanine and ProCalm™, a patented bioactive peptide found in milk protein hydrolysate.
Many B combination vitamins, like niacinamide, offer important benefits for managing anxiety as well.
Botanicals are becoming increasingly popular. In addition to Bacopa, you will also find botanicals like passion flower, chamomile flower, lemon balm, and Siberian ginseng in anxiety formulas.
Supplements play an important role in managing anxiety, but the best results come when they are integrated in a lifestyle that promotes health and relaxation. Meditation and yoga can have an enormous impact on patients when they embrace these techniques.
Potential Adverse Effects
When helping patients with anxiety, most physicians start them off slow with supplements. Reactions can vary from one ingredient to the next, and people who are taking multiple supplements will want to monitor how they feel. You might start them on a simple mineral, like magnesium, and if things go well, combine it with an amino acid and botanical for a more powerful synergistic combination.
Dosage is important too. Some supplements that help people focus can increase their anxiety or make them irritable in some cases.
Stress is a natural and usually healthy part of our lives. When it morphs into anxiety disorders, the cause will be found in environmental and/or metabolic factors pushing the needle too far in one direction. By helping your patient adopt healthy choices and relaxation techniques, while also using supplements to achieve greater metabolic balance, you can help them find some relief from the frenzied-pace we all seem to move these days.
When it comes to using supplements, you will want to consider sound research that demonstrates effectiveness, quality ingredients, and any potential side effects, just as you would with any other medical recommendation. Anxiety is a problem in our society, but it can be managed. It’s just a matter of listening to our patients, isolating the root causes, and applying gentle changes that feel right for them.