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The Relationship Between Allergies and Anxiety

calm May 27, 2020

by Henry Emmons, MD

 

Recent research has shown a correlation between children and adults who have allergies/asthma and also have anxiety disorders. It’s not known if one problem causes the other, or if perhaps they have a similar underlying cause, or if perhaps simply not feeling well adds to one’s stress level. 

Allergies, Anxiety, and Inflammation

In my clinical practice, I have observed this relationship for a long time. I can’t explain it either, but I do have some theories. What I notice is that when the body over-reacts to things (in this case, one over-reacts to an “allergen” like pollen, dust or pets), the mind is often over-reactive as well. It fits with my belief that mind and body are not really separate things, just different facets of the whole. As to what causes this correlation, I think inflammation is a likely culprit. After all, if the body has inflammation, so does the brain, and recent theories suggest that...

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Seasonal Affective Disorder in the Summer

joy May 21, 2020

 

Henry Emmons, MD

Seasonal affective disorder... in the summer?

Most of us in the far north live for summer. After a long winter (and potentially a long quarantine!), we just want to be outdoors, stay up later, be more active—pack in all the things we love that we’ve felt deprived of for nearly half of the year (read about SAD in the winter here.), but for a minority of people it’s the anticipation of summer, not winter, that gives them a feeling of dread.

We tend to associate Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with winter, when the days are short and so is our energy supply. You’re probably familiar with what it looks and feels like: Lethargy; sluggishness; struggling to get out of bed in the morning; sleeping too much; and usually feeling depressed, emotionally flat, or both. 

SAD involves recurring episodes of major depression that happen at the same time of year for at least two years. For 10% of people with SAD, that time of year is the...

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Natural Approaches to Help Kids with Impulsive Behavior

focus May 14, 2020

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Impulsivity, or acting without thinking, can be a real problem for kids (and yes, for adults too).

What does impulsivity look like? When it happens once in a while, it can look like everyday kid behavior. When it happens a lot, though, it looks like what it actually is: Trouble with self-control. Impulsivity doesn’t appear the same way in every child. And the behaviors can change as kids get older. 

When kids are impulsive, they might:

  • Do silly or inappropriate things to get attention.
  • Have trouble following rules consistently.
  • Be aggressive toward other kids (hitting, kicking, or biting is common in young kids).
  • Have trouble waiting their turn in games and conversation.
  • Grab things from people or push in line.
  • Overreact to frustration, disappointment, mistakes, and criticism.
  • Want to have the last word and the first turn.
  • Not understand how their words or behavior affect other people.
  • Not understand the consequences of their actions....
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Ashwagandha for Anxiousness: An Herb for Our Times

calm May 07, 2020

Henry Emmons, MD

What is Ashwagandha?

In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is thought to be one of the most valued remedies for a variety of conditions. It is one of my favorite herbs, and one of the few that I use personally as part of my daily regimen. It is known as an “adaptogen” or a “tonic” herb. That means that it isn’t considered to be a medicinal herb, per se, but is rather a general health tonic, one that is used to improve the body’s ability to adapt to stress.

At Natural Mental Health, we’re most interested in Ashwagandha’s ability to support the body under stress, reduce anxiousness, and help with sleep. It is one of the rare substances that seems to improve mental focus and alertness, while at the same time toning down the stress response and calming anxiousness. It appears to calm the brain when it is overactive, and stimulate it when it is under-active. Not too much, not too little, but helping us to stay in the right...

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Passionflower for Anxiousness

calm Apr 30, 2020

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., You've read Part 1 of this series and the introductory article about balancing GABA and glutamate, right? If not, head to those posts first.

Passionflower Benefits | Passionflower and Anxiety

The name “passionflower” may give you the wrong impression of this calming herb, which I consider to be one of the best herbal remedies for anxiety and insomnia. Exactly how it works is unknown, but it may be a mild MAO inhibitor (meaning it increases serotonin levels) or it may work through the GABA receptors.19

Passionflower has been effective in treating anxiety without the dependence that can occur with many medications. One study compared passionflower with a drug called oxazepam, which is similar to Valium or Ativan. The herb was equally effective with far less negative impact than the drug in treating anxiety.20

Passionflower Dosage & Use*

The dosage varies by manufacturer. Look for a...

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Diet, Vitamins, and Supplements to Support Your Immune System

resilience retreat Apr 11, 2020

By Tim Culbert, MD

A challenge like COVID-19 requires that you feed your body to balance the immune response and support the cells of the immune system. The NMH Resilient Diet works great for this.

Here are some additional things to remember: 

  • Eat lots of brightly colored, fresh, organic (if possible) fruits and vegetables loaded with ant-oxidants. These support proper immune system function and also power up our white blood cells (and brain cells) by feeding a special cell structure called mitochondria which act as the “power generator” for cells in your body.
  • Hydrate well! Drink water, warm broths, soups, and teas to replenish nutrients and flush toxins.
  • Reduce or avoid foods that may trigger unhelpful immune system responses such as refined sugar, chemical additives, gluten, soy, corn, and red meat.
  • Avoid smoking and limit pandemic happy hours. 

There are also supplements that can support your immune function.

Supplements should supplement...

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Support Your Immune System and Mental Health

resilience retreat Apr 09, 2020

By Tim Culbert, MD

I've felt somewhat helpless and even a bit depressed at times, as I mull through all the factors at play with COVID-19. Many of the factors seem out of our control. It can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, we DO have some control.

It's important to take control over as many lifestyle factors as you can to positively influence your immune system response to the virus. Some experts have said that "how your body responds” to a COVID-19 viral infection is as important as “what effect the virus has biologically on your body.”

We want to help you respond most effectively, in every aspect of your being. That may sound a little "out there," but it's essential to remember how intimately linked the mind and body are. 

For example, any infection we experience can, and often does, elicit a response called “sickness syndrome”. Dr. Marlynn Wei describes this phenomena:

“Illnesses like the flu or the common cold can...

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You Can Stop the Viral Spread of Fear

Uncategorized Apr 07, 2020

By Henry Emmons, MD

There are two unhelpful reactions to something as fearsome as a pandemic, and I’m not sure which is worse:

  1. Denial
  2. Fear

We can go into denial, pretending it doesn’t exist, hoping it will all go away. We’ve seen what happens when we choose denial—it leaves us unprepared, unable to mount an effective response, and more at the mercy of events. Denial is no way to face any trial, much less one as momentous as this.

Now, what about fear? Isn’t fear a reasonable response, maybe even the right response, when we face something fearsome? No.

Fear is panic’s gentler but more insidious cousin. It may be less extreme, but possibly even more harmful in the long run. Nobody wants to live a life run by fear.

Fear offers no advantage in facing this pandemic. None whatsoever. I realize that many of us cannot help but feel fear, but I urge you not to give it a foothold. Fear can only get a foothold when we cease living in...

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Valerian for Anxiousness and Sleep

calm sleep Mar 26, 2020

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., You've read Part 1 of this series and the introductory article about balancing GABA and glutamate, right? If not, head to those posts first.

Valerian Benefits | Valerian and Anxiety

Valerian has been called “natural Valium.” It is not as effective as the prescription drugs, but it is also safer and non-addicting, and it may offer benefit for both anxiety and sleep. The plant contains some of the calming amino acids, like arginine and GABA, and it is believed to work via GABA and serotonin receptors.21 There was an older study combining valerian with St. John’s wort, and comparing that combination to the drug Valium for treatment of anxiety. The natural remedies actually came out on top.22

Valerian Dosage & Use*

I usually recommend valerian for sleep support, though sometimes for anxiousness. Calm Nights is a good option, take up to 3 or 4 times daily. If it's...

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Nourish Your Brain for Better Sleep

foundations sleep Mar 19, 2020

Nourish Your Brain for Better Sleep

What you eat--and when!--can have a significant impact on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This may be more obvious for things like coffee and energy drinks, but there are other food items and the timing of when you eat them that may be helpful or detrimental to your sleep. 

The nourishment steps and food list below can help you refine your diet so that it supports your sleep. Pair these resources with The Resilient Diet and you'll have nourishment that fuels a good night's sleep.

Three Nourishing Steps to Support Your Sleep

Use the three steps below to change your food habits and improve your sleep. Don't feel obligated to put all of them into action immediately. Go step by step, take some time, and put each into action with confidence and commitment. You can do it!

First: Timing Is Everything

While eating balanced and nutritious meals throughout the day will support your sleep, it's not just the content of...

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