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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.
14 Responses
Avatar universal
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!
Avatar universal
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.
756668 tn?1287228987
This may sound out there, but EXERCISE does wonders...it releases all the good feeling endorphines...works for me!  
Avatar universal
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.

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!!!!  : )

Avatar universal
  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!
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.  
Avatar universal
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
Avatar universal
  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
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
I did hypnotherapy for a while until my therapist unfortunately died.  It didn't work, but it was really cool.  
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