Vonda Martin, BS, TCM, Nutrition Coach
We all know that anxiety is an unpleasant emotional state, ranging from mild unease to
extreme panic and fear. Anxiety differs from fear, in that fear is a rational reaction to
real danger, but anxiety can happen lacking a clear or even realistic cause. Though
some anxiety is normal, and in fact healthy, higher levels of anxiety are not only
uncomfortable, but can lead to significant health problems, including release of cortisol,
the fight or flight hormone.
SIGNS and SYMPTOMS
Anxiety is often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as tightness in the chest,
quickened and stronger heartbeat, throbbing or stabbing pains, inability to take in
enough air, tendency to sigh or hyperventilate. Additionally, we can have tension in the
head, neck and shoulders, butterflies in the stomach, panic, wanting to run away,
muscle spasms, excessive sweating, flushing, digestive disturbances, dry mouth and
Anxious people always feel that something bad is about to happen. They may fear they
have a chronic illness--a condition reinforced by symptoms of anxiety itself. Inability to
relax may lead to difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep, and may also lead to
Anxiety can be caused by a result of both physical and psychological factors. For
example, extreme stress can trigger anxiety and/or panic attacks, but so can certain
stimulants, such as caffeine. Anxiety can be triggered by elevations in the blood lactic
acid level. Lactic acid is the final product in the breakdown of blood sugar (glucose)
when there is a lack of oxygen.
There are at least seven nutritional factors that may be responsible for triggering anxiety by raising blood lactic acid levels.
Deficiency of B-vitamins
Deficiency of calcium
Deficiency of magnesium
Simply avoiding sugar and caffeine, foods you have an allergy to, alcohol and adding
supplements of B-Complex vitamins and getting enough magnesium and calcium can
go a long way in relieving anxiety. In fact, cutting out caffeine alone, can often result in
a large decrease in anxiety.
The diet should be rich in foods that have high levels of B vitamins, such as:
Foods that are high in calcium and magnesium include:
Sea vegetables (kelp, seaweed)
Leafy green vegetables
Finally, there are several herbs that have been studied to help with anxiety.
Valerian -(especially useful 30 minutes before bedtime)
Chamomile-(especially good in a hot tea)
Lemon Balm-(preliminary research has shown that lemon balm can reduce some symptoms of anxiety, including nervousness and excitability.)-Brent A. Baur, MD
[If you're considering taking any herbal supplement as a treatment for anxiety, talk to your doctor first, especially if you take other medications. The interaction of some herbal supplements and certain medications can cause serious side effects. Some herbal supplements taken for anxiety can cause you to feel sleepy, so they may
not be safe to take when driving or doing dangerous tasks.]
Meet Vonda Martin, Nutrition coach and Targeted Case Manager with Mindsight Behavioral Group. Nutrition is just one of Vonda's many passions. She enjoys helping other develop healthy and productive lifestyles so that they can find peace and happiness!