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Alternative therapies for Anxiety

Are there any alternative therapies for Chronic anxiety?  I'm interested in this for a teenager and am happy to look into anything.  
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Avatar universal
There are, but know that alternative medicine is harder to do and works more slowly than taking a medication, assuming it works at all, which, like all other treatments for anxiety, may not work at all.  The first thing to do is buy a book called Natural Highs by Hyla Cass.  It's an old book, and it's not written by a professional herbalist or the like, it's written by a psychiatrist who taught and might still teach at UCLA and uses natural medicine in her practice.  It's an overview of all the different substances she was aware of, which means there are a lot she wasn't aware of, at the time she wrote the book that are used to treat emotional problems.  Of course the main "alternative" treatment is one you know well, therapy with a psychologist who specializes in anxiety treatment.  Most don't know that CBT and a lot of the modalities used to treat anxiety come from traditional medicine, especially from India and China.  We all know about meditation and breathing exercises and visualization and the like, and all were borrowed from Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist practices.  Acupuncture would be another borrowed from TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine.  One of the problems with doing this is it does require a lot of homework and a professional to guide you, and some of the treatments are balkanized.  An ********* physician, usually an MD, will use the traditional medicine of India and the plants they use.  TCM will use the ones they use in China, mostly, although in both cases, a lot of the plants come from elsewhere in the world, but the formulas they use are pretty much just used in their form of medicine.  A naturopath would theoretically be educated in most of what's available out there in the world, including homeopathy, but some can be pretty weird so you have to just ignore that part of what they do and know they're basically using remedies because of what we know of their historical use even if they say they're choosing them because they wave a wand over your head -- the remedies chosen are still chosen because they were historically used for anxiety.  Chinese medicine is quite different, as they believe traditionally that a particular organ of your body is where the emotion comes from.  They believe anxiety is a kidney problem, I believe, for example.  It does give you quite a smorgasbord to choose from, though, so you always have something else to try.  Usually, holistic medicine won't use just one thing -- it will combined therapy, a formula of herbs, nutrients, dietary changes, etc, so it takes discipline and time to see if it will work.  Anxiety sufferers are notoriously impatient, including yours truly, as you know, and it takes patience and time to work.  A sort of meme in the natural world is it takes a month of treatment for every year you've had a problem for the treatment to work, but that's probably pretty variable.  I know from your participation in the anxiety forum that you're pretty well informed about meditation and breathing exercises and therapy and all the different ways to do that exist.  As for the remedies, there are a lot of them to try, and a combination would usually be used, and if that doesn't work, others are tried.  The closest thing to an antidepressant is 5-HTP, a form of tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin along with B6, Vitamin C and other co-factors.  The closest thing to a benzo is kava, which might have some liver toxicity in the standardized form but it's hard to tell, as the people who use it the most don't use it in a standardized form and live in Pacific Islands and make a drink out of it which they consume regularly.  I've used it in the standardized form in formula, and got some pretty good results from it before my Paxil problem, which has made everything not work for me.  Passionflower is both a GABA and serotonin affector and is regarded as a good systemic herb for anxiety, but know that when I tried it I got some weird reactions but that was, again, after my Paxil thing so it probably would have been different had I known this stuff before I had been put on meds.  Other natural relaxants are hops, valerian, green oats, magnesium, and really, just a host of plants that are relaxants -- nature knew how stressful life is, I guess.  Some are strong, like kava, and some aren't, like lavender.  Some make you sleepy, like California poppy and valerian, some not so much, like kava, at least for me.  Also used would be herbs that mediate the adrenal gland, so that cortisol production is what you want, not the ocean of it anxiety sufferers get.  Some of these can be stimulating.  The ones most used for anxiety are ashwagandha and holy basil.  I've had very good results with holy basil when I have to do something anxiety provoking, but I've also been on meds and I've used it as an add-on.  I've never tried to take it regularly.  This is just a taste, but I hope it gives a little color to what you'll find if you pursue this further.  There are more recently popularized plants that are much more like drugs, like CBD oil, certain strains of marijuana, and an herb from Asia that either helps you or sends you on a trip, but I can't remember the name.  Some psychaiatrists are using hallucinagenic mushrooms, under guidance.   And all comes with the usual caveat for teens, which is, their brains are still developing and while plants are way less strong than drugs and the body knows how to digest them whereas drugs are something we haven't evolved to consume, anything that has an effect on anxiety has an effect on the brain, so there's that.  Good hunting.
2 Comments
Sorry, MedHelp keeps censoring the term ayur veda.  It's one work, it's the natural medicine system of India.  For some reason MedHelp thinks it's a dirty word, I think.  We've had this problem on the alternative medicine forums for years.
I think that Asian herb is kratom.  There are a ton of herbs being discovered all the time by ethno-botanists who go around the world looking for what people have used for medicine before it all disappears to extinction.
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