We all experience some anxiety in our lives, and usually for good reasons. Ideally, stress and anxiety motivate us to make positive change and direct us away from negative situations. But when anxiety becomes too much, too frequent, or at all disabling, then it no longer serves its proper function. It then begins to create disfunction in our lives.
Anxiety has gained a lot of attention in the world of research over the past several years. Children with chronic illness experience higher levels of anxiety on average, and anxiety has been found to negatively impact disease outcomes in conditions such as cystic fibrosis, fibromyalgia, type 1 diabetes mellitus, asthma, and allergies.(1) In adults, anxiety it is strongly associated with peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, chronic pain, heart disease and more.(2) More than a dozen mental and mood disorders are directly related to anxiety, including agoraphobia, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and many others.
1. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
This herb is gentle enough for use in children but also strong enough to help adults. Studies have shown that lemon balm is effective for treating anxiety, stress, and sleeping disorders. Lemon balm is also an effective antiviral agent against the oral herpes virus (the virus which causes cold sores).
Due to its calming effects, lemon balm can also be used for some digestion complaints. In a 2018 study, researchers wanted to find out if lemon balm’s calming effects could work in people with chronic chest pain. They concluded that daily consumption of 3 grams of lemon balm herbal extract for 2 months can improve depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder in patients with chronic stable angina. It improved their sleep quality, sleep duration, and sleep efficiency.(3)
The effects of lemon balm are likely due to at least three possible mechanisms including effects on serotonin, decreasing stress hormones, and action on GABA receptors in the brain3. Add some valerian root and you have a potent combination for improving ADHD in children.(4) Before reaching for some Xanax, consider talking with your naturopathic physician about this wonderful herb.
Who doesn’t appreciate a genuine hug of love and support? We need them as children and we thrive on them as adults. Research has shown that emotional support from a spouse or long-term partner is directly related to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a reduced rate of mortality.(5) Did you catch that? Something as simple and wonderful as a hug can reduce your risk of death!
Hugs can also help lower blood pressure. Because we already know quite a bit about the negative effects of poor emotional support, it is safe to infer that there are many positive effects of good emotional support. The mechanism as to why is not clear. Some researchers point to oxytocin being an important piece of the puzzle. We know from animal studies that oxytocin levels increase with consistent physical contact such as petting. Needless to say, expressions of love and support through physical contact are essential for overall wellbeing.5 Even hugs between mom and dad have a tremendously positive influence on the child.(6)
Avoiding stimulating foods and beverages such as excess sugar and caffeine while providing the body with proper nutrition is a critical component of managing anxiety. Maintaining proper blood sugar levels is also important. Micronutrients such as chromium, vanadium, and B-vitamins may be helpful in that aspect. Another key micronutrient is magnesium. In many cases, magnesium deficiency can lead to increased anxiety and lower stress tolerance. High stress levels can actually further deplete magnesium levels, therefore creating a vicious cycle of anxiety and magnesium depletion.(7)
A healthy, balanced, nutrient-rich diet is perhaps the most fundamental part of overall wellbeing, and it is certainly a key part of mental and emotional wellbeing. Your naturopathic doctor can help you optimize your diet so you can always perform at your emotional best.
If you have questions regarding any of these treatment strategies or would like to schedule a free consultation for you or your family member to discuss the best way to manage and stop chronic anxiety from taking over your life, give us a call at
MedRoyal at (480) 783-0708 or email us at FrontDesk@MedRoyalAZ.com.
- Gaby, Alan R. Nutritional Medicine. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing, 2011.