Stress is a funny word. Loaded with the
emotional bias of being a “bad”
thing, the word stress can be quite
deceiving, making it harder to handle than it needs to be. So
we will offer a new way to look at it—and very effective ways
to address it.
As the healing arts grows, it is important to remember that
there are four key domains in healing:
- Biochemistry. This includes herbals, nutrition and medications.
- Structural. Including areas such as manipulation, surgery, breathing, exercise, and ergonomics.
- Biophysics. For example, Acupuncture, Chakra work, Yoga, and NAET.
- Mind-Body-Spirit. Understanding how the body is a metaphor for what is occurring at a deeper level. For most illnesses, including anxiety and even cancer, complete healing is unlikely to occur unless this is also attended to.
You will find that healing occurs best when all four of these
areas are addressed. No individual healer is likely to have
complete expertise in all of these areas. As our new healthcare
system evolves, and the current one heads to extinction, it is
good to see health practitioners from diverse backgrounds
communicating and working together more.
So let's look at how a Comprehensive Medicine approach
works when addressing anxiety and stress. I will focus
predominantly on mind-body and biochemical aspects, as
these are where my expertise is.
Treating Mind-Body Issues
Stress is not inherently good or bad. In fact, stress can be used
to force flowers to bloom, and this analogy applies to people as
well. The problem is when stress becomes chronic, and is no
longer enjoyable. This then contributes to chronic elevation of
the stress hormone cortisol, directly triggering anxiety. As the
excessive stress becomes chronic, cortisol levels then go too
low—ironically also triggering anxiety by causing recurrent bouts
of low blood sugar.
A simple way to tell if stress is healthy? Simply check in to see
how it feels. If it feels good, it is healthy. What is enjoyable can
vary markedly from person to person. For example I enjoyed the
stress of skydiving, while for my wife it would feel awful.
A Novel Treatment
The key stress antidote? Check in to see how things feel. This
is so important, that I am being purposely redundant. Learn
to say NO to things that feel bad. Leave your brain out of it.
Our brain is the product of our societal and family training. It
simply feeds back to us what we were taught that we should do
to make others happy. Our feelings, on the other hand, tap into
our own personal authenticity. So choose to focus on, and do,
those things that feel good. Once you've determined what feels
good, then your mind can figure out how to make it happen.
And yes, it is OK to simply choose to focus on what feels
good in life, without being in constant battle mode against
things you don't like. Like food choices at a buffet, we don't
have to protest for the removal of those foods we don't choose
to eat. Simply ignore them and pick those things you like. You
will find that the rest will soon stop appearing in your life. This
is part of how I suspect “free will” works. Our focus is like the
remote control on our TV. What we focus on keeps showing up
on our screen. This is why our constant “Wars on…” just seem
to create more of what we are attacking.
Is it truly OK to do what feels good? Some will make the
argument that “Heroin feels good, and perhaps also smacking
that person who makes me angry over the head with a two-byfour.”
This is why we add two caveats:
- Don't hurt others.
- Ask yourself “How is that working out for me?”
Doing this, people will find their anxiety is often coming from
their choosing what they think they should do over what feels
good (i.e. doing what others want, instead of what is authentic
to them). Notice if you are constantly feeling, “I should do this,
or I should do that.” This is euphemistically called “Shoulding
on yourself.” I invite you to change that toxic behavior.
If hyperventilation is present, one will usually have buried
feelings that are bubbling to the surface during periods of
relative calm. Counseling to help them learn to feel their
feelings helps over time. Also, as panic attacks often leave
people feeling like they are going to die, understanding that the symptoms are not dangerous helps. Simply being told this
may not be enough to reassure you though. You can confirm
hyperventilation is the cause by breathing rapidly for up to
30–60 seconds and seeing how it amplifies your symptoms.
Unfortunately, this can also precipitate a full-blown panic
attack, so be forewarned, and pick a safe time and place to do
My e-book, “Three Steps to Happiness—Healing through
Joy,” can help guide you through the mind-body healing process.
Balance The Biochemistry
Begin with ruling out and treating overt issues, including:
- Overactive thyroid. Consider this if your Free T4 thyroid test is even in the upper 20th percentile of the normal range.
- Low progesterone (women). Progesterone is like our body's natural Valium. Consider this if anxiety is worse around menses and ovulation.
- Low testosterone (men). Consider if testosterone levels are in the lower quarter of the normal range.
- Adrenal fatigue—caused by drops in blood sugar. A key tip-off? Irritability and anxiety that triggers sugar cravings and improves after eating.
Also optimize nutrient status, especially magnesium and B
vitamins. Instead of blood testing, which is of questionable
value here, I simply recommend (for most people—whether or
not they have anxiety) a high potency multi powder called the
Energy Revitalization System (by Enzymatic Therapy). With this,
one drink replaces well over 35 pills, optimizing levels of most
nutrients. Also have the person decrease sugar and caffeine
intake to see if this helps.
Herbals can also be very helpful. For example, there is a
unique extract, which can be as effective as Xanax, but is very
safe. This special extract stimulates one of the most abundant
neuroreceptors in the body, the cannabinoid receptors. Many of
you may recognize this as the marijuana receptor, and in fact
many people use cannabis to self-medicate for their anxiety.
But what if you could get the benefits without the sedation
and side effects?
The good news is that now you can. Recent research
showed that a special extract of the roots of the narrow leafed
coneflower (Echinacea angustifoliae) was more effective than
the tranquilizer Librium, with none of the side effects. It also
worked quickly, with effects building with continued use. This is
not the same component used for immune enhancement, and
isn't found at needed levels in standard Echinacea. It is available
though as AnxioCalm (by EuroPharma—20 mg per tablet).
Let's look at a few studies of this unique extract.
A study published in the March 2012 issue of Phytotherapy
Research included 33 volunteers. All experienced anxiety,
assessed using the validated State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
(STAI). The extract decreased STAI scores within three days,
an effect that remained stable for the duration of the treatment
(seven days) and for the two weeks that followed treatment.
There were no dropouts and no side effects.
Another study looked at higher dosages (40 mg 2 x day)
in a multi-center, placebo-controlled, double-blind Phase II
study involving 26 volunteers diagnosed with generalized
anxiety disorder (GAD). Over a three week period, the
number of severely anxious patients (HADS-A scores larger
than 11) decreased from 11 to zero!
So I begin with two tablets of AnxioCalm 2x day for severe
anxiety. After three weeks, the dose can often be dropped to
one 20 mg tablet twice a day. It can also simply be used as
needed, and serves as an excellent sleep aid.
Other helpful herbals include valerian, passion flower,
hops, theanine, and lemon balm. These can be found in a
combination called the “Revitalizing Sleep Formula,” which
helps anxiety during the day and sleep at night. I personally
use both AnxioCalm and the Revitalizing Sleep Formula at
night to ensure 8–9 hours of deep sleep.
The smell of lavender oil is also calming, and a small
drop on the upper lip, or even having a lavender bouquet in
one's room, can be helpful.
Structural And Biophysics
Simply going for regular walks in the sunshine, and doing
yoga, tai chi, and meditation can be very helpful. A technique
called centering can help people feel that they are in the calm
“eye of the cyclone” when panic attacks hit. In addition, it is
helpful to explore a technique called Butyko breathing, which
can be very helpful for anxiety and hyperventilation.
For PTSD or old emotional traumas, a technique called
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) can give near miraculous
benefits in as little as 20 minutes (see EFT.Mercola.com). It
may seem odd, but try it and you'll be amazed. Releasing
old traumas through a simple “trembling” technique is also
helpful, and the person can do it on their own. It is easy and
simple instructions can be found in the book Waking the Tiger.
By having the entire healing arts toolkit available, and
not just using the “medical hammer,” anxiety can now be