Natural Remedies To Heal Anxiety
There are many all-natural remedies to heal anxiety. Mental health illnesses are one of the leading diseases in the U.S.—affecting 1 in 5 adults every year. Read on to find out more
Mental health illnesses don’t necessarily mean text book cases like schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder either. Common (often unspoken) mental health illnesses also include chronic anxiety, eating disorders, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), depression and “serious psychological distress (SPD)”—a term to describe feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and restlessness that are hazardous enough to impair physical well being.
Typical treatment solutions routinely include a prescription for therapy/counseling, meditation or yoga and SSRI medications.
However, despite our nation’s efforts to reverse these disorders, the numbers are not getting any better.
One word: The gut-brain connection.
THE GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION
Your gut health influences your brain health, and vice versa, your brain health influences your gut health.
Unfortunately, statistics reveal that approximately 3 in 4 Americans have some sort of GI distress or dysfunction. With such high statistics, NO WONDER mental health is on the rise.
How does the gut-brain connection work?
Considering that the gut is the “gateway” to your health (ALL nutrients and toxins MUST filter through your gut), if you gut is unhealthy, then your brain will feel the effects as well—unable to receive the nutrients it needs to fuel healthy brain cells, give you energy and help you think CLEARLY.
Beyond just nourishing your brain cells too, your gut and your brain are highly connected. So before you jump to any conclusion on how to heal anxiety, consider this.
In fact, your vagus nerve—the nerve that controls digestion—is connected directly from the frontal lobe of your brain to the top of your stomach.
NO WONDER you get “butterflies in your stomach” when your brain gets nervous! And NO WONDER when you feel constipated or bloated, your discomfort is all you can THINK about in your head!
In addition, more than 90% of your serotonin (your “feel good” brain chemicals) is produced in your gut, and your serotonin not only responsible for helping you feel calm, peaceful, happy and enthusiastic, but your serotonin ALSO assists in digestion and gut motility (helping you fully digest and go #2).
Hence if your gut health is poor and unable to produce serotonin, then say hello to feelings of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and bloating or constipation.
The Bottom Line:
Your gut is like your brain’s heart beat. If it’s healthy and strong, so is your brain.
So how do you get a “healthy” gut? Current treatments may NOT be the solution and finding the right solution to heal anxiety can be a challenge.
THE LITTLE KNOWN TRUTH ABOUT SSRI MEDICATIONS
SSRI medications can be beneficial for many, especially as a short-term solution for helping a person navigate a difficult time in their life, however, like many other drugs—(from Advil for headaches, to birth control for PMS, to PPI’s like Nexium for heartburn), SSRI’s are not a long-term healing solution or cure for reversing mental illness.
They are more part of treatment and management.
In fact, a little known truth about SSRI’s is that they may actually perpetuate mental health issues more by killing off or disrupting healthy gut bacteria.
While a large percentage of pharmaceutical research has highlighted the devastating effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiome, and what impact that has on human health, a landmark March 2018 study (Maier et al, 2018) was the first to systematically profile interactions between non-antibiotics and human gut bacteria—SSRI’s included.
Researchers found that SSRI drugs may be just as detrimental to the human microbiome—if not more—as they inhibited MORE (healthy) gut bacteria than many antibiotics, PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors that treat reflux) and anti-diabetic drugs used in the study. On the flip side, researchers ALSO speculated that SSRI’s strong effects on gut bacteria could be a reason WHY many people experience a “therapeutic” effect on SSRI’s—at least initially as bacteria is .
If pathogenic (bad) bacteria is contributing to a person’s mental health condition, then SSRI’s may actually also disrupt unhealthy bacteria. However, similar to antibiotics, SSRI’s also disrupt the “healthy” gut bacteria, contributing to the dog-chasing-its-tail cycle of an unhealthy microbiome over the long term and continued gut-brain disruption.
The Bottom Line
SSRI medications don’t heal. They manage. If you want to truly “heal” your brain from the inside out, address and heal your gut first, while not discounting your total health and lifestyle as a whole (Read: You are not a diagnosis, an ICD-10 code for insurance, a disease or symptoms. You are a person).
Here are some natural cures to heal anxiety and other mental health solutions for natural (gut) healing.
NATURAL ANXIETY & MENTAL HEALTH GUT HEALING SOLUTIONS
A number of remedies have been studied to heal anxiety. If you dealing with it today, medication doesn’t have to be your only treatment. Try the 5 natural ways to heal anxiety.
1. Assess Your Current Gut Health
Fungal overgrowth, parasites (Nyundo et al, 2017), bacterial overgrowth and gut infections are all leading causes of “gut issues” and many people go for years—if not their lifetime—not realizing their gut was unhealthy. A thorough gut assessment can help shed light on what, if any, underlying pathogens may be wreaking havoc on your gut.
A good baseline assessment would include: comprehensive blood panel, comprehensive 3-part stool and parasitology test, and possibly a SIBO breath test (assesses for bacterial overgrowth). Working with a skilled nutritionist or functional medicine practitioner can help make this step easier. Once results are back, a specific (short-term) supplement and nutrition protocol may be prescribed for you, based on your results, in order to heal (no longer just manage) gut symptoms (and brain symptoms).
2. Support Healthy Digestion
Incorporate a daily baseline gut health routine (just like brushing your teeth) that includes:
- Take a Daily Soil-Based Probiotic & Eat 1-2 Fermented Foods/Daily (sauerkraut, grass-fed full-fat plain yogurt or kefir, low-sugar kombucha).
- Prebiotic Fiber (1/2-1 tsp/daily).
- Drink 1-2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar in 2-4 oz. water.
- Breathe deeply before or after meals for 1-2 minutes, chew your food well, and rest and digest (i.e. don’t eat in a rush or on the go).
3. Detox Your Lifestyle
Beyond juice cleanses, several lifestyle stressors and toxins wreak havoc on your health—especially your gut health—as your liver becomes overburdened with filtering these toxins in and out, and toxins promote bacterial overgrowth. We are exposed to over 85,000 “approved” chemicals and toxins in our cleaning and hygiene products, food sources and environments—many of which are banned in other countries. No, you can’t live in a bubble, but by mindfully reducing your toxic exposure, you CAN detox your gut health (positively). Consider detoxing one of the following:
-Replace plastics with glassware and stainless steel
-Choose hygiene products that rank 1 or “A” on EWG’s “Skin Deep” database (paraben, sulfate and toxin free)
-Use white vinegar and baking soda as natural cleaning agents
-Gradually replace makeup with more natural solutions as you run out
-Buy the “dirty dozen” in organic versions and opt for grass-fed, organic meats and fish as much as possible
4. Eat REAL Food & Clean (Filtered) Water
It may sound oversimplistic, but food is like medicine for your gut and brain, and if you haven’t given real food a “shot” to see how it affects your brain health…I dare you. Cut out the non-real food products for 7 days and see how you feel, including:
NOT RIGHT NOW FOODS
- Gluten and grains (cereals, bread, rice, pasta)
- Non-soaked nuts
- Conventional meat and eggs
- Packaged, processed foods
- Artificial sweeteners and sugar
- Sodas, juices and alcohol
- Instant coffee
It doesn’t mean forever, but sometimes a brief time away from common gut-brain irritating trigger foods (inflammatory) can help your brain “come to life.” Build your daily meals and snacks upon:
EAT THESE FOODS
- Sustainable proteins (wild caught, grass-fed, pasture raised).
- Dark leafy greens (cooked and/or raw).
- Starchy tubers (yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, plantains).
- Fibrous veggies
- Some fresh fruit
- Healthy fats (avocado, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut butter, ghee, grass-fed butter, etc.).
- Clean filtered water (70-80% of people drink carcinogenic water with over 100 cancer cross contaminants).
5. Continue Your Healing Work
Though gut healing and physical well-being greatly impacts your total body health—brain included, none of this is to discount the heart and head work that continued “healing” in counseling, therapy, coaching and connecting to your personal passions and purpose can give you in your healing process. In fact, “gut love” goes much deeper than taking probiotics alone. (i.e. learning to love yourself, tapping in to your unique personal hobbies and passions, and connecting to community and spiritual connection).
The Bottom Line:
- Gut assessment and healing
- Real food
- Gut Love (Heart & head “work” in therapy/counseling, and connecting to your passions, purpose and other people)
Maier, Lisa & Pruteanu, Mihaela & Kuhn, Michael & Zeller, Georg & Telzerow, Anja & Erin Anderson, Exene & Brochado, Ana & Conrad Fernandez, Keith & Dose, Hitomi & Mori, Hirotada & Patil, Kiran & Bork, Peer & Typas, Athanasios. (2018). Extensive impact of non-antibiotic drugs on human gut bacteria. Nature. 555. 10.1038/nature25979.
Nyundo, A. A., Munisi, D. Z., & Gesase, A. P. (2017). Prevalence and Correlates of Intestinal Parasites among Patients Admitted to Mirembe National Mental Health Hospital, Dodoma, Tanzania. Journal of Parasitology Research, 2017, 5651717.