Do you know what it is like to be constantly fearful of something bad happening to you or someone you care about; to feel like if a world of illness is happening inside of your body; or to be uncontrollably nervous or irritable, with thoughts racing so much that you just cannot get much sleep at night? Prolonged anxiety is nobody’s friend, and yet, it is the most common mental health disorder in many parts of the world, rivalled only by depression. Although anxiousness is a normal emotion when fleeting, if it is accompanied by chronic stress, worry and a general decline in overall health, the condition becomes a mental health disorder.
Anxiety may be caused by a number of things, including traumatic life experiences, long term stress, hormonal imbalances, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption and a lesser known but maximally important cause – an imbalanced gut microbiome. The good news is that there are many natural remedies for anxiety that are safe, don’t cause adverse side effects, and get to the root cause of the problem. Let’s take a look at a few home remedies for anxiety.
Balance Your Gut Bacteria with Probiotics
This may seem to be an unconventional approach, but unlike most treatments, it actually addresses the root cause of anxiety (and other mood disorder) symptoms. You see, there is a strong interconnectedness between the gut and the brain. There is a nerve called the vagus nerve which, in simple terms, connects the cells of the colon to the brain and also helps to regulate the permeability of the gut lining, amongst many other things.
High levels of stress shuts down the ability of the vagus nerve to maintain a healthy gut lining and substances from the gut such as some bacteria, fungi, hormones and other chemicals which are usually not supposed to enter the blood, are able to do so and create adverse effects throughout the body. Through impacting the brain, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders are often the result.
A lesser known fact is that an unbalanced gut microbiome (the natural flora of bacteria in the digestive tract) has consequences for your mood because bacteria can also influence anxiety and stress by their activities in the gut. What is interesting is that more than 90 percent of the body’s total serotonin and more than 50 percent of the body’s total dopamine (feel good hormones) are synthesized in the gut, not in the brain. This is a proven fact.
When your body has enough serotonin, it helps to regulate mood, happiness, and anxiety. However, low serotonin levels are linked to depression. When the bacteria in the gut are thrown off balance, possibly due to antibiotic and painkiller overuse, stress, inflammatory foods (e.g. refined sugars and carbohydrates, white flour, red meats, fried and processed foods), and more, this affects the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the gut, and therefore affects the parts of the brain responsible for our emotional states.
There’s a lot more that can be said about this area of study, but what you can do now, is increase your consumption of probiotics (good bacteria) to restore the balance of your gut microbiome. Research has shown that probiotic gut bacteria can alleviate depression and anxiety. Examples of probiotic rich foods are: yoghurt, kombucha, kefir and fermented foods. Concentrated forms of probiotics can also be purchased at your local pharmacy and taken over a course of 1-5 days, as recommended. They are completely safe with no known side effects, with noticeable results within a few weeks’ time.
Try These Supplements
For immediate relief when anxiety rears its head, you can try some of these supplements to ease the bout:
Bay Leaf Tea—bay leaves act as a natural sedative and can bring calmness to the over-firing parts of the nervous system. Boil 3-4 large bay leaves in 2 cups of water, cool and drink. This tea will also help to induce sleep.
Epsom salts or Magnesium—Magnesium deficiency is a major cause of anxiety. Magnesium reduces the release of stress hormones and can act as a filter to prevent them from entering the brain. Take a magnesium supplement daily, or for immediate relief, add a pinch of Epsom salts to a cup of warm water and drink.
Peppermint Oil—Available at most pharmacies, peppermint oil has been proven to quell anxiety just as well as conventional medicine (pills). Not only is its aroma relaxing, but upon ingestion, its effects on smooth muscle and nerves are calming as well. Add 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to a cup of very warm water and drink.
Start to Pray
Science has proven the magnificent effects that prayer has on the brain, and anxiety relief is no exception. According to Dr Caroline Leaf, “It has been found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer over an 8 week period can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan.”
Action: Set aside a peaceful, uninterrupted session of prayer where you deeply focus on connecting with your God. Release all of your cares and burdens, and communicate your sincere desires, while believing that you receive whatever you ask for, with humble gratitude. You can also meditate upon Scripture or positive teachings or affirmations. Make this a part of your daily life.
There is much more that you can do to alleviate your anxiety, including exercising daily, consuming more green leafy vegetables and less processed, acidic and caffeinated foods, increasing natural light in your living or work spaces and reducing stress levels. I hope that these remedies help you to find the relief that you need.
Best wishes on your journey to better health.