Gateway Health News

Anxiety/Panic Attacks

2015-08-06
Anxiety/Panic Attacks

Rhodiola
Serotonin is a mood elevating, calming neurotransmitter and active compounds in this
herb (e.g. rosavin and salidrozid) enhance the transport of serotonin precursors
(tryptophan and 5-HTP) into the brain. Additionally these compounds are thought to
inhibit the degredation of mood-elevating neurotransmitters in the brain, further
enhancing the herbs action in anxiety. With respect to serotonin, studies indicate a
30% increase of levels in the brain. As stress accelerates the destruction of moodboosting
neurotransmitters, the adaptogenic effects of rhodiola would be additionally
valuable.

Magnesium
Magnesium works in tandem with calcium to ensure proper nerve impulse
transmission, in part through an influence on neurotransmitters (chemical messengers
of the nervous system). Magnesium deficiency is associated with lactic acid build-up,
leading to an imbalance in the ratio between lactic acid and pyruvic acid. It appears
that people with anxiety disorders may be sensitive to lactate and a high lactate to
pyruvate ratio is linked to anxiety-related disorders including panic attacks.

Omega 3 fatty acids
Studies suggest that deficiency of alpha linolenic acid may be prevalent among those
with anxiety related disorders, including panic attacks. In one such study 75% of
patients with an anxiety related condition (agoraphobia), improved within 2-3 months
of starting flaxseed oil supplementation. Dry skin, dandruff and brittle nails are all
signs of essential fatty acid deficiency that may also be common in anxiety-related
conditions.

L-Theanine
Green tea has long been known as a relaxing beverage, and scientists now believe that
its relaxing properties are attributable to its theanine content. Theanine appears to
cross the blood brain barrier and has been shown to influence brain wave activity,
possibly via an influence on neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin,
suggesting potential applications in stress, anxiety and depression. Theanine also
appears to counteract the stimulatory properties of caffeine – a fact that probably
explains why people feel relaxed after drinking green tea, despite its caffeine content.
Research on human volunteers has demonstrated that l-theanine creates a sense of
relaxation approximately 30-40 minutes after ingestion by directly stimulating the
production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental
alertness similar to that achieved through meditation. It also promotes formation of the
inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), which influences
levels of dopamine and serotonin, both of which are important in relaxation and
mood stabilisation. Interestingly, participants in this study appeared to achieve a
relaxed, yet alert state of mind, without sedation – suggesting potential use by people
suffering with anxiety/stress related disorders that need to stay alert in order to
perform their day-to-day activities.

Anxiety Summary
Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
Rhodiola extract1 250 – 750mg per day
Magnesium 2 200 – 600mg per day
Flaxseed oil 2 – 10g per day
L-Theanine3 50-600mg per day

Reduce/avoid
Alcohol
Caffeinated beverages
Sugar
Refined carbohydrates
Allergens

Increase

Complex carbohydrates
Vegetables (esp. dark leafy green)
Fruit
Nuts and seeds
Oily fish
Whole grains

Lifestyle Factors
Eat regularly and under relaxed conditions
Take regular, gentle exercise
Minimise impact of stress (use stress management techniques)
Practice deep breathing techniques

Footnotes
1. Not to be taken concurrently with anti-depressant medication. Do not take during pregnancy or
lactation
2. High doses may cause loose stools. Those taking heart medication should use magnesium under
supervision from a Doctor.
3. May increase the activity of chemotherapeutic agents in tumour cells. Not to be taken
concurrently with anti-depressant medication. Do not take during pregnancy or lactation.