Anxiety and panic attacks aren’t all in your head. They are oftentimes rooted in treatable physical causes such as a lack of nutrients, digestive disorders, hormonal shifts, and imbalances in neurotransmitters.
First, what is the difference between an anxiety disorder and normal everyday worries or a case of jittery nerves? In addition to nervousness and restlessness, those suffering from anxiety can experience increased heart rate, hyperventilation, sweating, trembling, difficulty concentrating and uncontrolled worry. It can severely impact their quality of life and pose a risk to their ongoing health and wellness. Conventional medicine often treats anxiety with prescription drugs that can have adverse side effects. Naturopathic medicine goes deeper and tried to find the root cause of anxiety.
A recent study in Japan showed that deficiencies in vitamin B6 and iron can trigger chemical changes in the brain that cause panic attacks, hyperventilation and other forms of anxiety. Since B6 and iron both play a part in how the neurotransmitter serotonin is synthesized in the body, it may be possible that an imbalance of serotonin levels is what’s causing the problem.
90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. That means if you’re digestive system and intestinal bacteria is out of whack, it can actually affect your mood and your mental health status. Since many anxiety symptoms also intersect with symptoms of depression (often caused by a lack in serotonin), one of the first things I do with patients who have anxiety, panic attacks or depression is check the health of their digestive tract.
The gut also plays a role in our mood and mental state by messages sent to the brain along the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve connects the brain with the entire pathway of the digestive tract and is responsible for giving us those “butterflies in our stomach” or gut-level emotional responses we can actually feel. If gut bacteria is balanced and digestion is smooth, the vagus nerve can relax. But if the wrong messages are sent along the vagus nerve pathway, both our mind and our digestion can suffer.
The important thing to remember if you have an anxiety disorder is it’s not your fault. Don’t get down on yourself or feel guilty because you aren’t coping with life better. It may simply be a matter of changing your diet, replenishing key nutrients, rebalancing your gut bacteria and getting your serotonin levels back on track.
Learn more about healing your gut in this free online documentary!
CoQ10, or ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is key to providing energy to cells in key organs of the body, such as the pancreas, liver and heart.
The body can produce its own CoQ10, which is then stored in the mitochondria of your cells. However, production decreases with age and in certain diseases like Parkinson’s, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. That’s why it is good to supplement with CoQ10 as you age especially if you are at risk for heart disease. In fact, CoQ10 is effective in recovery from heart surgery and various types of heart disease and can reduce the incidence of migraines. It also helps with muscle weakness and may improve athletic performance
Good dietary sources are meats such as pork, liver, beef, and chicken, as well as fish – especially oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, sardines and salmon.
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