Alternative Medicine for Anxiety

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Anxiety can be a good or a bad thing. When it's bad, it may necessitate treatment. Some treatments for anxiety are considered to be alternative in nature. This lesson explores some of them.


Is anxiety bad? You'd think so, but not necessarily. Anxiety is, in short, distress as a result of real or imagined danger. That sounds kind of bad, but think of the following scenario. Anxiety causes you to avoid dark alleyways late at night. Not a bad idea, right? So, anxiety can be very beneficial. Of course, when anxiety interferes with our daily life on a chronic basis, then it can be a serious psychiatric disorder.

Anxiety is commonly treated with a combination of anti-anxiety medication and psychotherapy. But some people choose to go the alternative route. That's what this lesson is about: alternative medicine for anxiety. Do note, you should always talk with a doctor before starting, stopping, or changing any therapy.

Dietary Therapy

Let's begin with some foods that some believe decrease a person's anxiety. Let's say there's a dish in front of us. On this dish you see the following:

  • Brown rice. Complex carbohydrates found in whole grains like brown rice might increase the levels of serotonin in the body, which might help calm a person.
  • Green leafy vegetables, which contain B vitamins, magnesium, and calcium. Some believe that a lack of any of these in the body might lead to anxiety.
  • Some unsweetened cultured yogurt. This is a great source of the mineral calcium, which may aid in sleep.
  • Almonds, which contain magnesium, a mineral that may help calm a person's body and mind.

You know what's missing from the dinner table? Foods believed to increase anxiety. These include refined sugars, often in the form of desserts, and beverages like alcohol and caffeine.

Besides eating a healthy diet, some people choose to take supplements they believe can help their anxiety. Here are some examples of such supplements:

  • 5-HTP, otherwise known as 5-hydroxytryptophan. This may help calm a person's mind because 5-HTP may increase the levels of serotonin in the brain.
  • GABA, a type of neurotransmitter that has calming effects on the brain.
  • Kava, or Piper methysticum. Some choose to consume Kava in strong-tasting drink preparations. It is believed to help relieve generalized anxiety.
  • Passionflower, which might cause relaxation without drowsiness.

In addition to these supplements, some of which can be found at a regular drug-store, some people choose to seek out the advice of a homeopathic practitioner for additional help. Some of these homeopathic treatments include:

  • Arsenicum Album for anxiety that occurs alongside chills and a fast heartbeat.
  • Pulsatilla for anxiety stemming from being alone
  • Calcarea Carbonica to get rid of the 'overwhelming' feeling
  • Lycopodium for social anxiety

Non-Dietary Therapy

Not all alternative medicine for anxiety involves consuming (or avoiding the consumption) of certain substances. Some believe that pressure point stimulation, à la acupressure and reflexology can help. Those who use acupressure might want to focus on the following pressure points:

  • Lung 1, for general anxiety
  • Bladder 23 for fear
  • Conception Vessel 17 if the anxiety has led to depression
  • Pericardium 6 for nervousness in general

Reflexology practitioners may want to stimulate areas related to the heart, solar plexus, diaphragm, and glands.

These treatments work for some but not for others. Another option might be aromatherapy, as many smells are believed to contribute to a feeling of calmness. Jasmine, ylang-ylang, and lavender may help ease anxiety.

Also, some people benefit from taking a hot foot bath before bed. This might help move blood away from the head and towards the limbs. This might help relieve insomnia stemming from anxiety.

Other potential remedies for anxiety include:

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