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Often misunderstood and underestimated, anxiety disorders can make those suffering feel alone and helpless.
Yet anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States, with more than 30 percent of all US adults experiencing an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. In fact, anxiety comes in many different forms, including generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and can be the result of a combination of genetics, trauma, environment, and other factors. Anxiety can also have both mental effects, including racing thoughts and lack of concentration, and physical effects, including an accelerated heart rate and sweating.
Anxiety isn’t only highly commonâ€”it’s also highly treatable. Yet due to the stigma around mental illness as well as the negative side effects, cost, and dependency risk of medication, only 36 percent of those struggling with anxiety take advantage of the resources available. But treatment doesn’t have to look like Xanax or feel overwhelmingâ€”in fact, you can start tackling anxiety right at home with these all-natural remedies.
Besides the obvious physical benefits, exercise also offers a number of positive psychological and emotional effects. Physical activity has been linked to improved energy, concentration, memory, and even cognition, with aerobic exercise associated with lower sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity. In particular, the HPA axis is responsible for controlling responses to physical and psychological stressors; dysregulation in this area is associated with depression and anxiety. Studies have found that patients who exercise regularly report a 20 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms, and that active individuals are 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years. While even a short walk can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, regular exercise for 30 minutes or more and activities including running, yoga, and hiking are considered most effective.
2. Mindfulness and meditation
These days, mindfulness and meditation can often seem like little more than buzzwords invoked by wellness bloggers, yoga studios, and self-help programs eager to capture new clientele. But the only thing new about these practices is that the mainstream is awakening to their benefitsâ€”in fact, meditation is one of the oldest ways of treating mental, emotional, and even physical stress. Portrayed in Indian wall art as early as 5,000 BCE, meditation is the practice of reaching a higher level of consciousness by bringing all focus to the present; mindfulness refers to the practice of incorporating this awareness into day-to-day life. Studies have found that mindfulness and meditation-based programs can help alleviate a number of the symptoms of anxiety, including racing thoughts, poor sleep, and irritability.
3. Healthy eating habits
Food is fuel, and nutrition is a factor in both physical and mental health. Since blood sugar spikes, dehydration, and mineral deficiencies can worsen or mimic symptoms, people struggling with anxiety would do well to avoid excess sugar and processed foods, and maintain a balanced diet focusing on foods rich in zinc, including grains, legumes, and nuts; magnesium, including fish and dark, leafy greens; and omega-3 fatty acids, including fish like salmon. Studies have also found that asparagus contains anti-anxiety properties, probiotic foods can help reduce social anxiety, and, since anxiety is associated with low levels of antioxidants, foods rich in antioxidantsâ€”including berries, nuts, and a variety of spices like turmeric and gingerâ€”can help relieve symptoms.
4. Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake
Another healthy habit for those struggling with anxiety to cultivate is to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. The same stimulant that makes coffee popular with busy mothers and CEOs can also induce anxiety symptoms, including an increase in pulse, body temperature, and breathing rate, and may lead to trouble concentrating, headaches, and/or insomnia. The correlation between caffeine and anxiety is so strong that the DSM-5 diagnostic manual includes what they call “caffeine-induced anxiety disorder.” Nicotine, which can result in elevated heart rate, sweating, and rapid breathing, among a number of other detrimental health effects, can also trigger or exacerbate symptoms. And while some may feel compelled to use alcohol to relieve their anxiety, alcohol can actually cause blood sugar spikesâ€”and in turn, anxiety symptomsâ€”during its consumption, and further heighten anxiety symptoms once the effects have worn off.
While many anxiety remedies are available over the counterâ€”or in some cases, in your own kitchen cabinetsâ€”there may come a time where your anxiety can no longer be treated independently. In this case, you may want to pursue talk therapy in order to better understand and manage the disorder. Although anxiety medication is often considered the most common medical intervention, therapy has proven to be just as effectiveâ€”if not moreâ€”for many disorders, as it treats not only the symptoms, but their underlying causes. The most popular form of therapy for anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which helps the patient to better understand how negative thoughts can affect their mood and actions. Since therapy focuses on equipping patients with the tools and skill set necessary for self-regulation, therapists can help develop an individualized treatment plan that may include combining other treatment options with talk therapy.
There’s also a new frontier in using natural remedies to treat anxiety disorders. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most prevalent ingredient in cannabis; derived from the hemp plant, CBD isn’t psychoactive or addictive, and independently doesn’t cause any “high” effects. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties and effects, CBD is being studied as a major breakthrough in alternative and supplementary care for a range of issues, including movement disorders, chronic pain, epilepsy, and, of course, anxiety. Early clinical studies have proved CBD to be a promising treatment for conditions including social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly because of its effects on the serotonin receptors that regulate mood and social behavior. As a treatment option, CBD is able to address both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. Few other remedies offer such full-spectrum benefits.
CBD’s mass appeal also comes from its accessibility and many forms: it can be taken orally or applied topically. Since it is derived from industrial hemp, PURE CBD is legal. Furthermore, the laws in many states allow those with disorders including anxiety to access medical marijuana products that combine CBD with other cannabinoids, including THC.
Ready to start treating your anxiety naturally? You may want to try one or more of these 6 approaches, including CBD. PURE Farmaceuticals uses the highest quality ingredients, sourcing Cannabis Sativa Industrial Hemp from Colorado, Oregon, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Both the Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract Tincture, available in three sizes, and Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract Salve are available online and can be shipped to any state in the US. If you are interested in trying CBD but have questions, you can schedule a complimentary 10-minute phone consultation with a Doctor of Pharmacy who can help determine if CBD is right for you and, if so, which product might be a good place to start.