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Anxious? Try These Natural Remedies

I’ve written here before about homeopathic remedies for anxiety and panic. There are also other forms of natural treatments for these ailments – they range from herbs to vitamins to dietary changes.

St. John’s wort is a popular herb for depression and anxiety. German doctors have been prescribing this remedy for years, and it’s available over the counter at most drug stores. Studies have indicated it can treat mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Talk to your doctor before using St. John’s wort if you’re currently taking birth control pills, prescribed antidepressant medication, or blood thinners, as St. John’s wort can affect the effectiveness of these drugs.

GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid that acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter – in other words, it prevents neurons in the brain from firing. In anxiety, neurons are firing too often: GABA helps promote relaxation by stopping this overreaction in the brain. It’s present in some foods – soy sauce, for example, is rich in GABA, as are bananas and spinach – and can also be taken in caplet form.

5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytryptophan, is another amino acid. Taken orally, around 70% of 5-HTP will convert to serotonin in the brain, thus 5-HTP acts a lot like an SSRI antidepressant such as Prozac or Zoloft. Vitamin B6 helps 5-HTP to convert to serotonin, so if you’re taking 5-HTP, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough B6, either in foods or in multivitamin supplements. Foods with lots of B6 include tuna, mustard greens, spinach and bell peppers. You should be getting about 1.3 mg of B6 a day - slightly more if you're over 50.

Calcium and magnesium act as natural anxiety relievers: for those who have trouble sleeping, calcium is a natural tranquilizer. It’s important to take these two minerals together, because they help each other absorb into the body properly. Take them in a 2:1 ratio: that is, take twice as much calcium as magnesium in each dose. Most multivitamins do not contain 100% of the RDA of calcium or magnesium, so you’ll probably need a separate supplement.

As ever, make sure you talk to a traditional medical doctor before beginning any kind of supplement regimen, especially if you’re taking prescribed medication.

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