Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Natural remedies for anxiety

Overcome by feelings of anxiety and tension? Try the natural route to regain control and bring back a balanced outlook.

Do you feel apprehensive, panicky or experience feelings of dread and impending doom? If so, you could be suffering from an anxiety disorder - and you are not alone. Around 19 million people have an anxiety disorder in the UK. Check out the most popular natural ways of combating anxiety.

A number of aromatherapy essential oils are used to help treat anxiety, most of which have a sedative effect. These include: benzoin, bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, lavender, melissa, neroli and sandalwood (NB, seek advice before using any oils if you are pregnant).

Try adding five drops of an essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil (eg almond or avocado) and add to a comfortably hot bath once the taps are turned off. Close the bathroom door to keep in the vapours and soak for 15–20 minutes by candlelight. Afterwards add two or three drops of lavender oil to a tissue and tuck near your pillow to help you sleep.

This natural therapy can help many emotional problems, including anxiety. It's best to consult a qualified homeopath to obtain the right remedy for your constitutional type. Some of the homeopathic remedies you could use include:

Lycopodium - for anxiety with a lack of confidence

Arsenicum album – for anxiety with restlessness

Phosphorus – for anxiety relieved by reassurance

Calcaria carbonica – for anxiety with fear of insanity

A typical dose is to take the 6c strength every two hours for up to 10 doses.

Flower remedies

Flower remedies are flower essences preserved in brandy. Place a few drops in a glass of water and sip slowly until feelings of anxiety pass. Several of the 38 Bach Flower Remedies are helpful for anxiety, including:

Cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) for fear of losing control, uncontrollable rages, tempers, impulses, fear of causing harm to oneself or others

Aspen (Populus tremula) for vague fears and anxieties of unknown origin, sense of foreboding, apprehension or impending doom

White chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) for persistent, unwanted thoughts, mental arguments, preoccupation with worry

Some remedies are made by combining different flower essences to help more complex emotional states, such as Bach Rescue Remedy (containing Rock rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem and Cherry plum) for use in times of crisis such as when anxiety leads to a panic attack.

Herbal supplements

Valerian is one of the most calming herbs available and can help to relieve anxiety and muscle tension, and promote calmness. It is often used together with other calming herbs such as lemon balm and hops to ease nervous anxiety, insomnia and to help avoid a panic attack. If anxiety is associated with depression, St John's Wort will help to lift a low mood, but seek advice if you are taking any prescribed medications to check there are no interactions. Chamomile tea also has a useful calming action.

Hypnotherapy helps overcome anxiety by promoting relaxation and improved self-esteem. It also helps you change your thoughts and behaviour from negative patterns to those that are more positive. You can also learn self hypnosis to continue working on your improvements on your own.

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