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Alternative Therapies for Anxiety
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Alternative Therapies for Anxiety

Dear all,

Would love to have some info on what you have tried for anxiety and what worked, in terms of alternative therapies...

Currently, I am looking into Valerian Root, Kava tea, Breathing methods, and biofeedback....

Anyone, please chime in.
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14 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_m_tn
Breathing methods, biofeedback work very well in my opinion, although it is not considered 'alternative therapy.'  It is actually the most proven and mainstream way of confronting and dealing with anxiety, in my opinion.  I am a big proponent of learning about the source of your anxiety and ways to deal with it, and in talk therapy, you will often learn these methods from your counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.  

I always advise people to be careful with 'natural' remedies for their anxiety.  Quite often these 'natural' remedies are much more dangerous and not as effective as perscription medications....let us know how everything goes!
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Avatar_m_tn
Please tell me which natural remedies are more dangerous than prescription drugs?  None I've ever heard of.  Sure, there are tainted batches sometimes, but that happens to everything in our profit above all society.  Even basic foodstuffs.  Yeah, five people got liver problems and were taking kava, but also a whole lot of other things and it was standardized kava, a pharmaceutical product.  And it was only five -- for a drug that would be zero.  While anything can be abused, and natural remedies must be taken with knowledge and preferably a professional's help, they are in no way as dangerous as a single approved drug on the market.  

To llvita -- You might find a more knowledgable and understanding audience on the complementary health forum.  Herbs and natural remedies are generally used in combination, or formulas, not singly.  For anxiety, for example, you would take herbs like ashwaghanda and eleuthero to strengthen your adrenals, 5htp for serotonin, GABA for relaxation, magnesium and hawthorn to keep the heart relaxed.  This is just an example.  For regular use, the relaxant herbs would be passionflower and hops or valerian.  Seeing a naturopath or holistic nutritionist or herbalist would give you a guide, since a lot of experimentation is necessary, just as it is with prescription meds.  And cj29 is right, prescription meds are stronger, but with the consequences of that.  A good book to get you started is Natural Highs by Hyla Cass, a psychiatrist with UCLA medical school.
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756668_tn?1287228987
This may sound out there, but EXERCISE does wonders...it releases all the good feeling endorphines...works for me!  
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Avatar_m_tn
Exercise does not sound out there one bit...I firmly believe that exercise is a HUGE reason that I am able to feel better on a day to day basis.  

Again, I am not opposing 'natural' remedies, but be EXTREMELY careful with them.  Remember, they are classified as a dietary supplement, not medications, and therefore are not regulated to treat or cure antyhing.  Furthermore, because of this lack of regulation, potency, consitency, fillers, etc are not standardized.  Many people get bad gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, increased sensitivity to sunlight. Furthermore, it can have a negative reaciton to a myriad of treatments to include chemotherapies, HIV treatment, etc...Futhermore, dietary supplements are not required to go through testing on dosage, potency, efficacy, etc.  The NIH has some great resources on this and quite often you will find that there are more severe reactions to 'natural remedies' than any perscription drug.  

Furthermore, many people that are 'sold' on natural remedies have a very narrow focus and a biased opinion to any product or treatment within the 'medical establishment.'  

I agree with Paxiled, in that you need to educate yourself on anything you put into your body and your doctor needs to know what you are taking because they can react with other medicaitons you are taking or conditions you have.  And as far as natural supplements causing problems, just take a look at Hydroxycut, Ephedra that were touted as natural that are cause more problems then they are worth...the list goes on and on...just ensure you do your research.

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756668_tn?1287228987
I totally agree....Glad you believe in exercise as well!  people tell me that doesn't help them..then I tell them they probably aren't even trying.  

I also agree with you on natural remedies!  I for one will not take any of those kind of ...whatever that stuff is. I don't have a clue what the actual ingredients are. i don't care what the label says.  I stick to going to my doctor...doing some therapy and lots of reading...and believe it or not I suffer from GAD..but I am doing alright!  Life is bearable and don't panic much..unless I am home alone at night in the dark!!!!  : )

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Avatar_f_tn
  Before trying anything like 5HTP or GABA, I would strongly recommend you have neurotransmitter testing done through a qualified nutritionist, to see if you actually have a correctable imbalance that may be contributing to your anxiety. It's a saliva test.
Supplements such as these are generally safe, but randomly trying something like GABA, which acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, can actually increase anxiety if you take too much. Better to test your levels first, to see if you really need it or not.
  My son just did the saliva test through our nutritionist and we are waiting for the results. His anxiety is basically caused by hormone imbalance due to a pituitary cyst. He recently began having autonomic dysfunction also, which is causing even more anxiety for both of us!
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Avatar_m_tn
First, there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone with a mental disorder has any less GABA or serotonin than anyone else, so what saliva test can help with that?  It sounds bogus to me.

Second, there's no problem with ephedra, unless you take too much.  The problem with ma huang, the Chinese name for the herb, is that teenagers were buying it over the counter and taking a bunch, dieters were abusing it, and drug dealers were using it to make methamphetamine.  There was no problem with the herb itself, which is very mild.  So you might as well ban Nyquil, and Xanax, which are also abused, and all painkillers, which are abused.  If we make illegal everything that's abused, we won't have any medication left, natural or otherwise.  Secondly, I'm not biased against medication, I take Lexapro and klonopin.  I responded to your bias, cj, not mine.  I believe in using whatever is out there, in a responsible fashion.  Paxil, an approved medication, has destroyed my life.  The number of people killed and sickened by medications approved by the FDA is unbelievably high, in the hundreds of thousands every year.  All I was saying was FDA approval means nothing, all they do is read pharmaceutical reports and make sure the proper hoops are jumped through; they do no research of their own.  I am suspicious of all medications, natural and otherwise, as long as the profit motive is the main motivating factor is our health care system.  But at least with herbs and natural remedies, assuming they're acutally natural, which hydroxycuts isn't, we do have thousands of years of use, but we still need knowledgeable professionals to assist and need to know which companies are reputable and do independent testing of their products and which don't.  Unfortunately, with the monopolization of the market by Whole Foods, GNC, and Vitamin Shoppes, there are few small health food stores left with knowledgeable people to provide that information.  And it isn't true that FDA lacks power to regulate natural remedies, they have chosen not to because of pharmaceutical company lobbying.  They have the power in law, they just don't exercise it.  

But I do agree with you on care, and I said so, but I believe the bias is yours.  Even hydroxycuts obviously has some contaminant in it; it's been on the market for many years with no reports of harm other than being too speedy, which unfortunately is why people take it.  We don't ban prescription drugs or OTC products when they have contaminated batches, we just find out what the problem is and eliminate it.

I don't personally have a horse in this race.  I've always found herbs to not be powerful enough to treat my anxiety, and use pharmaceuticals.  But I do know the subject well, and there are many people who do very well on them.  They are much safer overall than pharmaceuticals; that's just the statistical truth.  To completely them from consideration would be as silly as eliminating medication because all medication has side effects and all are to an extent toxic.
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Avatar_m_tn
Sorry, forgot the word eliminate in the last paragraph after completely.  And cj, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you completely here, it's just that's there such a pro medicine bias on this website, and these medications aren't at all safe.  They are a devil's bargain.  
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Avatar_m_tn
This is what worked and is working for me. Whether it's a placebo effect, good luck, or sheer coincidence, I don't know. But it is working. I used to have wicked panic attacks and health anxiety (knock on wood). I was on Klonopin for a while and it worked great but I knew it was not a long term solution. Did some biofeedback as well and learned how to control my body.

All daily amounts:

- 45-60 minutes of moderate exercise (60-80% max heart rate)
- 8000 mg Vitamin C
- 1000 mg fish oil
- 1000 mg lysine
- 500 mg proline
- 500 tryptophan
- 4 oz of a good Cabernet Sauvignon
- 250 mg B-6
- a good multivitamin
- 400 mg magnesium
- 1.6 mL Valerian root extract
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Avatar_f_tn
  If you're interested, I will get the information on the neurotransmitter test from my nutritionist when I see her again, to go over my son's results. The test is called the Neuroadrenal Expanded Profile, from NeuroScience. I don't know how accurate this test is. If it helps my son, it's worth the cost.

Personally, I believe mental illnesses almost always have an underlying physiological cause. It just needs to be found and corrected, if possible. (note that I said physiological, not psychological).

I was just reading a few days ago about the damage that Paxil has done to people. It's horrible! I ran across this info while looking for info about autonomic dysfunction. It seems that many people trying to come off Paxil ended up with severe autonomic disabilities, and their doctors are denying the drug had anything to do with it.

I agree with everything you said. I think. I always prefer natural remedies, especially the ones that work for me! I don't try anything that I haven't thoroughly researched first. My son's illness has forced me to learn a lot about the endocrine system, particularly the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. He never had an anxiety problem, until his adrenals crashed. He is on replacement hormone medication, which is always tricky. He is also taking specific vitamins and supplements that his tests indicate he is deficient in.

I take no drugs, not even tylenol when I can avoid it. They do too much damage. I will always dig deep to find the real cause of a health problem, whenever possible, and correct it as naturally as possible. Sometimes a drug is necessary, to extend life, but I sure wouldn't put anti-depressants on that list. I would find out exactly how a medication acts on body systems first, and then decide, with the help of a professional, if I should take it, or not.

I am sorry about what Paxil has done to you, and all the other people who have been hurt by it. How are you doing?  I hope you find a way to recover more fully someday soon.

Enzymelover
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Avatar_n_tn
I also have recent anxiety, panic attacks and I hate it!!! I am an avid exerciser however the attacks have spilled over into my workouts and sometimes being overtired form working out can cause more panic.

I am looking into ThetaHealing which concentrates on removing old negative patterns and replaces them with normal healthy patterns. Not tried it yet so can't give you a report.

I have also contacted a Hypnotherapist who specializes in anxiety ......hey, I'll give anything a try.
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Avatar_m_tn
I did hypnotherapy for a while until my therapist unfortunately died.  It didn't work, but it was really cool.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi
I think that natrural remedies are the best way to go.  I suffer from anxiety and have taken alternative meds in the past which have helped me. It took a while for them to start working but they worked and I felt great. The only side effect of natural remedies is that you dont put any chemicals in your body! lol.  

The meds I took were from my alternative med doctor, not from a vitamin store. The meds that you get from a vitamin store are not quite as good as the ones from the alternative med doctor, that I promise you.  The meds at the doctors office are the best of the best, are 100% natural... Yes, they are pricy but worth it...

I have not taken any of the supplements in like a year because I was feeling fine and didnt think I needed them but my anxiety recently came back so Im probably gonna have to start taken them again once I get the test back that checks for the balances.

I was taking Maca, 5 HTP, and Supren. I did not have any side effects with these meds, again, they are the best of the best. Better quality equals less side effects.  Also, 5HTP and Maca are an Amino Acid so there are no negatives of them.  Ive done research and found that there are people that got side effects with 5HTP but I can pretty much guarantee you that is probably because of the brand, something purchased at a store and that is cheap.  I was paying $80 for a bottle of 5HTP that contains 120 pills ( it is probably even more now) lol...I was taking 2 pills a day of 100mg and that is just the price of the 5HTP. Maca was about $60 for 90 pills.  But again, I was paying for the quality... and it's fine... Insurance does not pay for this so it came out of my pocket...  Valerian root is a good remedy that helps, so you can use that. I wouldnt recommend Kava Kava because this can cause problems when taken with other supplements.  

Exercise does help, Im an avid exerciser.  Keeping busy helps too because when someone is not busy we can't help but to focus on our worries and that worry turns into all kinds of physical symptoms.  A person can only think about 1 thing at a time so keeping busy will help with keeping your mind pre occupied.

Restorative Yoga is also a good way of learning how to relax your body and mind..

Ive tried accupuncture..It can help but everyone is different just like not all meds help everyone. Accupunture didnt work as well for me as I would have liked but it may work well for someone else.

Good luck and dont be afraid of taking natural meds. They are much better than prescription meds which doctors these days are very quick to prescribe instead of getting to the root of the problem...   Not to mention the fact that natural meds do not cause liver damage after long term use..

Good luck!
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Avatar_m_tn
Glad what you took helped.  Just want to say that the products sold by alternative health care professionals aren't at all better than what's sold at a good health food store; in fact they're often worse.  In the old small health food stores, we could tell you which companies were best, but unfortunately Whole Foods has put most of them out of business.  The ones sold by health care professionals often contain fillers and binders that aren't the best for you, and often don't have the most absorbable forms of nutrients.  The only reason these people sell them is that it gives them a monopoly on your business, since you can only buy them from professionals.  Herbalists and long-time professionals in the industry will tell you this; many of them started companies before it was profitable to do so to make sure the best products were available.

Maca, if you're describing the correct name, is an odd product to take for anxiety.  It's not an amino acid, it's a South American herb that increases sex drive and energizes male energy in both woman and men.  As such, it can cause anxiety.  Glad it worked for you, though.  Just want others to be careful.  Also remember these professional brands are more expensive not because they use better ingredients, they more often use worse, it's because they have a monopoly between you and your practitioner.  Much cheaper and better alternatives are available.  For anyone who find these too expensive, tell your practitioner you want something less expensive, and you'll suddenly see recommendations for the brands you see in the health food stores, if they're good ones.  I managed health food stores for 18 years, and there's just a lot of scams out there, both in the pharmaceutical and natural medicine worlds.
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