Fear, an inability to think straight, a pounding heart, dry mouth, excessive perspiration, insomnia, fatigue, headaches and muscle tension are all symptoms of anxiety – and all of them can be triggered by the challenges of everyday life.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress that helps you deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, or keep focused in an important situation.
But when it becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday things, it can be disabling and even a danger to your health.
With the many tasks and responsibilities that women face today, it’s no wonder that so many suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind. In fact, statistically, women are twice as likely to experience anxiety than men.
Most people, when faced with an intense or constant feeling of anxiety will either self-medicate with alcohol or cannabis, or ask their doctor for a course of tranquillisers, now often known as mood stabilisers.
All three of these drugs, alcohol, cannabis and tranquillisers – boost the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid), the brain’s peacemaker, which helps to turn off adrenalin production and calm you down.
This is why a pint of beer or glass of wine makes you feel so sociable.
Now ladies, you can’t just walk around with a bottle of wine in your handbag.
Besides running the risk of adopting an addiction, the happy feeling you get from drinking a glass of wine only lasts for an hour or until the GABA starts to decline , leaving you feeling irritable and disconnected.
The net effect is that alcohol makes you more anxious, not less. The same is true for cannabis, which, if habitually smoked, also reduces drive and motivation.
States of anxiety are associated with too much of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol.
Blood sugar ups and downs and an over-reliance on stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can stress us out.
The first step to curbing your anxiety is therefore to balance your blood sugar levels by eating slow-releasing carbohydrates and avoiding- or at least considerably reducing your consumption of stimulants and alcohol.
GABA not only inhibits the production of excess adrenalin, noradrenalin and dopamine, but works together with serotonin to keep your mood good.
However, GABA has been decreed as a medicine, which means that it is no longer available over the counter. Natural GABA promoters – amino acids, minerals and herbs – will ensure that you produce and release sufficient GABA whenever it is needed.
- Taurine, GABA’s best friend is another amino acid which CAN be supplemented. It is similar in structure and effect to GABA and can also be found in high concentration in certain foods. Many people think that it is a stimulant because it is used in so-called energy drinks but is it not.
It actually helps you to relax and unwind after the production of high levels of adrenalin as well as helping to alleviate depression, insomnia and even the high phase of manic depression. Taurine in concentrated in fish, eggs and meat.
- The herb valerian is an excellent antidote to anxiety. This natural relaxant is used for the treatment of several disorders, such as restlessness, nervousness, insomnia and hysteria. It enhances the activity of the brain’s GABA receptors in a process that is similar to tranquilising action of Valium and other prescription drugs.
- Hops are an ancient remedy for a good night’s sleep and are probably included in beer for precisely that reason. They help to calm nerves by acting directly on the central nervous system, rather than affecting the brain’s GABA receptors.
You will need to take in about 200mg per day to notice an effect and it works best in combination with valerian and other herbs such as passion flower. Passion flower has a mild sedative effect that promotes sleep, much like hops, with no known side-effects at normal doses.
- Magnesium is another important nutrient that helps us relax. It relaxes the muscles as well as the mind, so symptoms of deficiency include muscle cramps and spasms, in addition to anxiety and insomnia. Seeds and nuts are rich in magnesium, as are many fruits and vegetables, especially kale and spinach. We recommend eating magnesium rich foods every day and supplementing with an additional 300mg, especially if you are over-anxious.