Benzos or Passionflowers
By Dr. Dawn Bantel, Medical Director
Anxiety is one of the most common issues that our residents struggle with here at Sabino Recovery. Many times the anxiety is so severe that it results in panic attacks. This is especially true for those with a history of trauma and struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There are a number of medications that are used for the management and treatment of anxiety. These can range from anti-depressants to benzodiazepines, which are highly addictive and can create an entirely different set of physical and mental health issues.
Naturopathic medicine can provide effective non-addictive treatment for the management of anxiety. The class of herbal medicine used for this purpose is termed nervines. Nervines are thought to nourish the nervous system not just manage the symptoms. Milky oats, skull cap, passionflower are some of my favorites. Valerian is most often used for insomnia and can be effective during the day for sleep. Kava kava in my experience has the strongest effects. It can cause some sedation but I prefer it over medication and use it with those folks that have high levels of anxiety.
Nutrition is also very important in the management of anxiety. I always review whether a patient is eating at regular intervals and if the pattern of eating is well-balanced. Low blood sugar levels can create a physiological stress response that can cause anxiety. Caffeine intake is important to review as some people can tolerate more than others before experiencing symptoms of anxiety. L-theanine is the amino acid that is calming in green tea and it can be taken as needed as a nutraceutical. Magnesium supplementation is an important aspect of the treatment of anxiety.
I always encourage some daily physical activity as it has a positive impact on mood and anxiety. Additionally, yoga and body work like massage help the body to relax and this, in turn, relaxes the mind and so can greatly reduce the anxiety response.
I love that most people that come to Sabino Recovery are enthusiastic about trying new ways to cope with old issues. It is not uncommon for people to leave here not requiring medication to manage their anxiety. It’s remarkable to see that occur in just 5 weeks.