Anxiety – Panic Attacks

Rhodlola

Serotonin is a mood elevating, calming neurotransmitter and active compounds in this herb (e.g. rosavin and salidrozid) enhance the transport of serotonin precursors (tryptophan and 5-HTP) into the brain. Additionally these compounds are thought to inhibit the degredation of mood-elevating neurotransmitters in the brain, further enhancing the herbs action in anxiety. With respect to serotonin, studies indicate a 30% increase of levels in the brain. As stress accelerates the destruction of moodboosting neurotransmitters, the adaptogenic effects of rhodiola would be additionally valuable.

Magnesium

Magnesium works in tandem with calcium to ensure proper nerve impulse transmission, in part through an influence on  eurotransmitters (chemical messengers of the nervous system). Magnesium deficiency is associated with lactic acid build-up, leading to an imbalance in the ratio between lactic acid and pyruvic acid. It appears that people with anxiety disorders may be sensitive to lactate and a high lactate to pyruvate ratio is linked to anxiety-related disorders including panic attacks.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Studies suggest that deficiency of alpha linolenic acid may be prevalent among those with anxiety related disorders, including panic attacks. In one such study 75% of patients with an anxiety related condition (agoraphobia), improved within 2-3 months of starting flaxsecd oil supplementation. Dry skin, dandruff and brittle nails are all signs of essential fatty acid deficiency that may also be common in anxiety-related conditions.

L-Theanine

Green tea has long been known as a relaxing beverage, and scientists now believe that its relaxing properties are attributable to its theanine content. Theanine appears to cross the blood brain barrier and has been shown to influence brain wave activity, possibly via an influence on neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, suggesting potential applications in stress, anxiety and depression. Theanine also appears to counteract the stimulatory properties of caffeine – a fact that probably explains why people feel relaxed after drinking green tea, despite its caffeine content.

Research on human volunteers has demonstrated that l-theanine creates a sense of relaxation approximately 30-40 minutes after ingestion by directly stimulating the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to that achieved through meditation. It also promotes formation of the inhibitory neurotransrnitter, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), which influences levels of dopamine and serotonin, both of which are important in relaxation and

mood stabilisation. Interestingly, participants in this study appeared to achieve a relaxed, yet alert state of mind, without sedation – suggesting potential use by people suffering with anxiety/stress related disorders that need to stay alert in order to perform their day-to-day activities.

 Anxiety Summary

Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range

Rhodiola extract (1)

Magnesium (2)

Flaxseed oil

L-Theanine (3)

250 – 750mg per day

200 – 600mg per day

2 – 1 Og per day

50-600mg per day

Reduce/avoid

Alcohol

Caffeinated beverages

Sugar

Refined carbohydrates

Allergens

Increase

Complex carbohydrates

Vegetables (esp. dark leafy green]

Fruit

Nuts and seeds

Oily fish

Whole grains

Lifestyle Factors

Eat regularly and under relaxed conditions

Take regular, gentle exercise

Minimise impact of stress (use stress management techniques)

Practice deep breathing techniques

Footnotes

1. Not to be taken concurrently with anti-depressant medication. Do not take during pregnancy or lactation

2. High doses may cause loose stools. Those taking heart medication should use magnesium under supervision from a Doctor.

3. May increase the activity of chemotherapeutic agents in tumour cells. Not to be taken concurrently with anti-depressant medication. Do not take during pregnancy or lactation.