Herbal, Nutritional and Lifestyle Medicine for Anxiety
As an integrative naturopath, I work as part of your health care team with your G.P., pharmacist, psychologist and psychiatrist for all mental health issues. As a professionally trained allied health practitioner I offer long appointment times to dig deep into your health history, nutrition and lifestyle to uncover and understand any physiological factors that may be affecting your mood, whether that be nutritional deficiency, diet or chemical imbalance.
Here’s what your naturopath can do
Naturopaths look for the root cause of the anxiety symptoms. I will look at your hormones and metabolism, assess interactions of any medications you may be prescribed (or self-prescribed), diet and nutritional intake and the timeline of medical and lifestyle events that got you to this point.
I see many forms of anxiety in my clinic
Excessive worry and anxiety can be difficult to control. A person can be affected by various forms of anxiety such as: generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, phobias, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sometimes in combination, generally increasing and declining and cycling. Often with accompanying sleep and concentration problems, fatigue, restlessness, irritability, tension and depression.
Each anxiety disorder is different in presentation and cause. Some symptoms experienced could be shortness of breath, palpitations and persistent negative thoughts. The severity can range too, from mild but persistent anxiety that can really wear you out but can also be experienced as so debilitating that the symptoms prevent the person from participating in normal day-to-day activities. Some people with severe anxiety cannot leave the house or are unable to communicate or socialise.
In this case, we can have a Zoom consultation or a telephone initial.
I work with you, as part of your mental health team
As your naturopath, I will also look at hormone testing and functional pathology (specific pathways and co-factors) to assess the chemicals transmitted from one nerve cell to another, known as neurotransmitters.
It’s not all about ‘testing’ or prescribing supplements either, as part of my line of questioning in the consultation, I am obtaining information about your lifestyle, habits, cravings and piecing the pieces of the jigsaw together to see the big picture of your mental health – so that we can start healing.
How do neurotransmitters affect my mood
Neurotransmitter levels can be an indication of anxiety and low mood and can indicate what amino acids, vitamin and minerals may be deficient. There are many neurotransmitters but six (serotonin, GABA, dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline, and glutamate), are the most researched in relation to their effects on mood disorders, hormones, sleep, blood sugar/insulin balance, pain perception, appetite, and cognitive function.
Evidence based herbal medicine can gently influence these pathways, and when used in combination with nutritional medicine to put the right co-factors in the pathway so your body can do what it is supposed to do – you are not simply putting a band-aid on the pathway – but fixing the root cause.
Different levels of neurotransmitters are identified in various mental health disorders, such as:
- Low moods
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Panic attacks.
You have probably heard of the neurotransmitter serotonin; it regulates your mood and appetite and low levels may be associated with low moods. High levels of the neurotransmitters histamine, adrenalin, and glutamate can result in anxiety and stress. Naturopaths aim to balance and correct i.e. to modulate these neurotransmitters.
Initially functional testing and thorough case taking may help to determine if your neurotransmitters are high, low or unbalanced. The results of these tests will determine a range of dietary advice, nutrients and herbal prescriptions to help produce or decrease the necessary neurotransmitters for the brain.
My ultimate goal as your naturopath is to help the body realign itself – and to give you all the ingredients to ‘bake the cake’. Nutritional supplements, herbal medicine and whole foods can assist our bodies to create neurotransmitters; in a consultation with me as your naturopath we will find the best combination that is right for you.