The effects of Anxiety seem to be in our conversations much more since 2020. My first anxiety attack was in 2016 upon leaving a court hearing that affected my grandson and the second one was sitting in the lower levels of a Dallas court house as the District Attorney informed us he was going to let a dangerous man back onto the streets which would in turn deeply affect my daughter and granddaughter.
What did I learn from these two experiences? I realized that my body's nervous system had become tender and easily stimulated into an anxiety reaction. You know the racing heart, rapid breathing, foggy brain and shaking. Those who have experienced this, know the feelings of the experience.
I began exploring the role that the Vagus Nerve plays when the body begins to enter into this strange world called "Anxiety". The symptoms of anxiety can become unbearable and can cause your body to become more prone to various illnesses. Yes, there are pharmaceutical approaches to treating anxiety, But what if I could share with you some of the more holistic solutions I have found to be helpful?
The Magic of The Sun
One of the main causes of seasonal depression, is the over production of Melatonin. Remember, your body produces melatonin from serotonin. Your pineal gland in your brain, responds to darkness.
As it gets darker earlier, your body signals that it is time to release melatonin into your bloodstream. As we experience longer periods of darkness, in the winter months, our body will use more serotonin to make melatonin. This is why you may feel blue in the winter compared to the summer. Just spend 10 to 15 minutes outside every day, especially when the sun is shining, this has shown to increase serotonin levels.
A Healthy Diet
Discovering the link between gut health and anxiety is a game changer. The body produces over 95% of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5HT) in the gut. 5-HT is a neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. Only 5% is found in the brain. Your brain and your gut talk to each other all the time through hormones and neurotransmitters. This is known as the gut-brain axis.
We do not get serotonin directly from our food, but we can consume foods rich in tryptophan which can boost serotonin production. Tryptophan is instrumental in the production of serotonin, a mood neurotransmitter that relaxes you. Because it's an amino acid, you body only receives it from your diet.
Some of the foods rich in tryptophan include chicken, turkey, fish, and fruits such as bananas, apples and prunes. Milk contains high tryptophan and the benefits can be experienced by drinking a cup of warm milk before bed to help with sleep. But remember that dairy is an inflammatory food that can cause problems for a lot of people.
Dairy foods contain lactose, casein, and whey. Casein is a protein very similar to gluten, Most people that are sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to casein.
If you experience depression or anxiety regularly, you likely have low serotonin levels. Here are common signs you have low serotonin levels.
Changes in sleep (too little or too much)
Memory loss or dementia
Little or no appetite
Cuts that do not heal quickly
Unable to focus
GABA -- Is an amino acid and is known for calming the central nervous system. GABA helps nerve impulses communicate. Without enough GABA, you can experience anxiety. You may want to try 500-1000 mg of GABA a day and include foods such as green tea, citrus fruits, bananas, nuts and greens.
Omega 3's -- Can reduce the symptoms caused from anxiety.
Magnesium -- Naturally calms the nervous system. Magnesium can be found in coconut water, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, chocolate and more.
5-HTP -- This is an amino acid that makes serotonin, elevating mood.
Probiotics -- Helps your gut produce serotonin. Science has discovered serval species of gut bacteria are missing in people with depression, which can lead to mood imbalances. This is why I recommend everyone take a probiotic everyday to ensure a healthy balance of the good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are one of the five essential supplements to managed and promote healthy mood.
Mother Earth gives us all the medicines we need to live healthy vibrant lives.
Chamomile relaxes and has sedative properties that help with sleep
Kava Kava reduces anxiety by activating GABA receptors in the brain
Valerian root is for insomnia. Take a Valerian root supplement or drink a warm cup of Valerian root tea an hour before bed.
Essential oils can be added to baths, massage oils or infusers. The best essential oils for anxiety are lavender, ylang-ylang, geranium, rose, bergamot and jasmine
As humanity navigates through the ever changing societal nuances we are daily experiencing, we want to do it with grace and ease, not fear and anxiety. I hope these suggestions will empower you and those you love to powerfully and purposefully walk through this time in human history.