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What are the natural treatments for anxiety?

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine Specialist

Anxiety can often be relieved through a combination of exercise, diet restrictions, and improved nutrition.

Increase your exercise (especially walking in the sunshine). This is a great stress reliever.

Avoid sugar and caffeine. Green tea is OK.

The following nutritional supplements can help:

B Complex—Thiamine (vitamin B-1) in high dose can help. Niacin (vitamin B3) is a natural tranquilizer—without being addictive. Some experts go so far as to call niacin "nature's valium." Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is critical in the production of two brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that prevent anxiety. Low vitamin B-12 has also been shown to be associated with anxiety. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is another B vitamin that is critical for the treatment of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a very common trigger for low blood sugar induced anxiety.

Magnesium has been called the "anti-stress mineral." Magnesium relaxes muscles, helps sleep, and relieves tension. Dropping magnesium levels can trigger hyperventilation/panic attacks (and even seizures if very severe) and these are often relieved with magnesium therapy.

Theanine, which comes from green tea, is an outstanding treatment for anxiety. Research has shown that theanine works by two mechanisms. The first is that it increases alpha brainwave activity, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what is achieved through meditation. Second, L-theanine is involved in the formation of the calming neurotransmitter, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). It also naturally stimulates the release of the "happiness molecules" serotonin and dopamine. Only the "Sun Theanine" form is used by most reputable companies.

Passion flower extract is one of the best known herbs for the treatment of anxiety. In fact, in South America when people are anxious, their friends often tell them to "go get a passion flower drink."

Magnolia bark has a long history of use in traditional Chinese formulas that relieve both anxiety and depression without leaving you feeling like you've been drugged.

Finally, from a psychological perspective, anxiety usually represents (often repressed) anger toward someone else or fear about a situation. These feelings need to be expressed/acknowledged—and then released. You can tell when the anger is healthy because it will feel good to express it. When it stops feeling good, release it.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

There are several steps we can take to quiet the brain and worry less:

  • Spend 15 minutes a day acknowledging your worries in a tangible way. Creating a list of your top 10 worries or a calendar of stressful upcoming events allows you to strategize and deal with each problem directly, so they don’t balloon to an unmanageable size.
  • Deep belly breathing, whether in a yoga class, at the office, or on your couch, is helpful in interrupting irrational thoughts. If you frequently experience toxic worry, try carrying a balloon in your pocket. Blowing up a balloon forces you to take long, slow breaths from the diaphragm, which slows down your heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, having a calming effect.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com.

Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, PsyD
Psychology Specialist

When you're anxious about something, taking three simple steps can help you to feel calmer and more under control, says psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein. Learn what they are by watching this video.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.