Natural Treatments for Anxiety and Nervous Tension

page backAnxiety and nervous tension are usually the result of emotional and physical stresses encountered in daily life, such as relationship problems, financial difficulties, job demands, traffic jams, and crowded or noisy environments. Even seemingly happy occurrences such as a marriage, a promotion, or a move to a new home create a state of emotional and physiological arousal that can easily turn into exhaustion.

Unrelenting anxiety and nervous tension deplete the adrenal glands and stress the body, leading to weakened immune functions and problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, and other degenerative illnesses. Simple steps that help relieve stress include regular relaxation or meditation, daily exercise, and deep breathing. Massage and other bodywork as well as emotional counseling can also be beneficial.

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Nutrition and Supplements

A balanced, whole foods diet is essential to provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function well and replace the nutrients that are depleted by anxiety and nervous tension. Avoid foods that place even more strain on the adrenal glands, particularly caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. Supplements that sup- port the adrenal glands and fortify the body against emotional stress include:

  • vitamin B complex, 50 mg twice daily and extra pantothenic acid (B-5), 100 mg: to support the nervous system and the adrenal glands
  • vitamin C plus mixed bioflavonoids, 2-5 grams daily, or to bowel tolerance: to strengthen the adrenal glands
  • calcium and magnesium, in a 2:1 ratio (for example, 1,000 mg calcium and 500 mg magnesium): for their natural tranquilizing effects


Herbal Remedies

The following herbs induce relaxing and sedating effects and can help relieve bouts of nervous tension and anxiety. Unless otherwise specified, take three to four times a day, either 1/2 teaspoon of tincture or two capsules.

  • chamomile or passionflower: gentle herbal sedatives that also relax the digestive tract; can be taken in tea form
  • California poppy or skullcap: slightly stronger herbal tranquilizers
  • valerian: a powerful but safe herbal sedative, useful in cases of extreme stress

The following tonic herbs can be used on a daily basis over a long period of time to strengthen the body and improve resistance to stress:

  • Siberian ginseng, 1/2 teaspoon of tincture three times daily: helps the body cope better with stress by supporting adrenal function
  • oats, 1/2 teaspoon of tincture three times daily: strengthens and relaxes the nervous system; look for preparations that contain the oat seed along with the straw
  • ashwagandha, one capsule or 1/2 teaspoon of tincture twice daily: considered the primary strengthening tonic in Ayurvedic medicine.


Homeopathic Remedies

Take one of the following remedies, depending upon the specific symptoms:

  • Aconite: for anxiety caused by fear, panic, sudden shock, or upset
  • Ingatia: for acute emotional upset that results in fear and anxiety
  • Nux vomica : for when fear or anxiety also upsets the stomach

Also available are combination remedy formulas that are prepared with some or all of the above single remedies.


Essential Oils

The most effective methods for using essential oils to help calm the mind and relax the body include massage, baths, and vaporization. Use any of the following essential oils singly or in combination:

  • clary sage: nervine, sedative, tonic
  • lavender: nervine, sedative, tonic
  • ylang-ylang: euphoric, regulator, sedative, tonic; use in moderation as the intensely sweet scent causes headaches in some people


Flower Essences

Administer a first-aid flower essence remedy to help alleviate anxiety before a stressful situation, or anxiety caused by any type of emergency. Place three to four drops under the tongue or add the drops to 1/4 cup of water or herbal tea and sip slowly.


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