Does your heart pound, arm pits sweat, feel light headed and shaky when you are about to do something, talk to someone or even just think about a potential stressful situation? Do you jump to conclusions or assume before having all the facts? Is anxiety interfering in your life?
While some fight or flight hormone responses are normal, for many it is a real hindrance and is disabling. Irrational responses to everyday situations seem to negatively affect 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety disorder each year and more women are affected than men, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (
While the physiological response can be extremely powerful, it’s your brain’s perception of a negative situation that is most likely instigating it. Anxiety is the way of having your inner alarm signals triggered. We don’t want to turn the emergency situation into our everyday way of living.
You might wonder, how can one person easily stand in front of a large audience and be calm, cool and collective and another person clearly be anxious. It depends on the thoughts they hold in their mind about the situation. How can we avoid anxiety in those situations? Change your thought pattern about the situation and you can change your response including your fight or flight response. I heard an amazing quote from a doctor a while back and it resonated with me very deeply “Most health issues are between your ears.” –Dr. Versandaal
Changing your perception and thoughts you hold in your mind might sound simple, however, we know that anxiety is also driven by the health of your gut bacteria, immune system, your diet and your hormones.
There is also a connection between stress, anxiety and depression. A deficiency in your all important neurotransmitters could be linked.
Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body. They relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons.” The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance.
Some Symptoms of Low Neurotransmitters
Alcoholism/addictions, allergies, anxiety, diarrhea, depression, worry, fear, restlessness, hair loss, blood sugar imbalance,insomnia, short temper, phobias, impulsiveness, frequent urination, skin issues, flushing/blushing, excessive sweating, salt cravings, muscle tension, especially in shoulders, neck and jaw, disorganization, reflux, IBS, hypertension, tinnitus, chronic pain, migraines, PMS, schizophrenia and OCD.
The Brakes and the Gas Pedal
There are differences between neurotransmitters Serotonin and GABA. In general, GABA is the “calming” neurotransmitter and Serotonin is the “mood regulator”.
Gaba and Serotonin are considered the calming or “braking” neurotransmitters, while Dopamine and Acetylcholine are the energizing or “accelerating” ones.
Very few doctors understand neurotransmitters and GABA and do not know how to support it without prescribing drugs such as Xanax, Klonipin, etc.. But GABA imbalance is easily helped with Passion Flower, Valerian and other calming herbs. I also love Lemon Balm because it grows as a perennial year after year. It is so super affordable and is a calming neurotransmitter, it makes a great calming tea. Most straight GABA products are not recommended as they typically cannot cross a healthy blood-brain barrier.
Anxiety triggers hormones related to
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
The good news is that there are natural ways to support your body and correct imbalances
- Steer clear of any stimulates; including caffeine (not even one cup of coffee), tea , energy drinks, pop, cigarettes and avoid all sugar. These provoke the stress handling glands thus creating even more stress.
- Eat and drink probiotic foods and beverages daily. These contain beneficial bacteria that will help your brain function properly
- Optimize your diet with lots of good fats (supports the adrenals and nervous system) and proteins (butter, bone broth, coconut oil, eggs, meat, nuts) and green vegetables. Read my post on what to eat for optimal health
- Avoid processed foods at all cost
- Get a full 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Lack of good quality sleep interferes in balanced stress hormones
- Live in the present moment and avoid thinking about the past or worrying about the future. The Power of Now is an excellent book
- Be sure your lifestyle and your actions are congruent with what you believe in
- Change your thought pattern. Affirmations are so helpful! For example, instead of saying in your head, “I’m going to mess up ______, and I’m going to look like _____,” you could say “I know my information, I am confident and capable of this.” Many times your emotional brain is in charge, but by saying your affirmation, you can put your intellectual brain in charge, instead
- Turn off the tv and the news
- Know when to say no. Overextending yourself will surely create anxiety and stress
Supplements that are helpful
- The gut runs the show, even regarding our emotions, thoughts and perceptions. Read my post on how to help heal the gut.
- Strong probiotics. These will help optimize beneficial bacteria and will help purge pathogenic bacteria. Read more on the gut-brain connection here.
- Probiotic beneficial yeast. These help balance yeast flora which can affect brain function.
- Magnesium orally, topical-mg oil spray and in a fizzy drink form.
- Mood Boost and Anxiety Relief. This is an excellent combination product with
5-HTP, Passion Flower, L-Tyrosine, Suntheanine, Ashwagandha and GABA. Go slow with this product: adults 1/2 caps with food and slowly ramp up over a week or two.
- Fermented cod liver oil – extremely important for optimal brain function.
- Bone broth.
- Passion flower herbal extract. GABA neurotransmitter support.
- Valerian Root. I highly recommend MediHerb’s Valerian Complex. It is a combination of high quality Valerian and Passion flower. Must order this through me. GABA neurotransmitter support.
- N3 Relaxa. Must order this through me. GABA neurotransmitter support.
If you are not taking an SSRI, you can try St. John’s Wort herb for a few months and see if its Serotonin support is enough for you. Passion Flower works in about 20 minutes so it is effective and supportive quickly. Take it night and day in incremental doses of drops. Experiment with all the above and find the right combo that works for you.
Caution: Do not take GABA support if taking anti-epileptics or Benzodiazepines or other sleep medication or if you have too much alcohol.
Remember, while anxiety is real and can be driven by deficiencies and toxicities, we are in control of a majority of our fight or flight response simply by staying present, peaceful, calm and letting go of our perceptions of circumstances. Because in the end…it always works out, so hold that in your mind when anxiety sets in.
The Link between Anxiety and Depression and Our Gut Ecology
There is a direct link between brain activity and how healthy our gut is. Read more here.
Depression Sessions On-line Summit
Here is another excellent resource to learn how to heal the inflammation in the intestines, which directly helps to heal anxiety and depression. A hand-picked team of 22 functional medicine doctors, naturopaths, bestselling authors, and real food chefs reveal how you can eliminate your digestive problems by finding the root cause, treating undiagnosed infections, identifying the best diet for you, and healing your brain and gut, naturally. CLICK here to preview or order this educational summit.