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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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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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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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7 Yin Yoga Poses to Support Calm, Joy, and Focus

calm move Dec 18, 2019

 

by, Elena Hollenhorst

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga is a form of yoga that is derived from ancient yoga practices dating back thousands of years that was changed and developed in the west starting in the 1970s. In Yin Yoga practice, postures are typically held for 3-5 minutes, though they may be held one minute or longer. Yin Yoga poses work with gravity to passively place gentle stress on the area around the joints and connective tissues to strengthen said tissues surrounding the joints. Yin Yoga is intended to be practiced in conjunction with more active, or yang, practices.

Yin Yoga Benefits

By creating gentle stress the theory is that a routine Yin Yoga practice will strengthen and healthily mobilize fascia and other connective tissues.

Yin Yoga Sequence

Props Needed

  • Yoga mat
  • 1 Blanket
  • 1-2 blocks or pillows (depends on your needs)
  • Timer

Instructions

  1. In yin yoga practice, work towards gentle...
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6 Tips to Nurture Calm This Holiday Season

calm Dec 12, 2019

Holiday marketing and Hallmark movies will tell you that the season is only full of Joy, laughter, and celebrations. But, for some, the holidays can bring up stress and disrupt calm. Try the six tips below to support your calm this season.

1. Meditate.

Try a daily meditation practice for the few weeks before the holidays and until they wrap up (or continue beyond!). Even just five minutes of meditation can set up your entire day. Try Dr. Culbert's meditation on compassion and tolerance.>>>

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” ― Dr. Sukhraj Dhillon

2. Keep up with your regular exercise routine.

Try to make room for your regularly scheduled workouts. If you can't find the time, opt for an active group activity such as a hike or a walk around the neighborhood. 

3. Regulate your sleep schedule.

Do your best to go to bed and rise at the same time every day. Late night...

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A Meditation on Tolerance and Compassion

calm Dec 03, 2019

By Tim Culbert, MD

Meditation on Tolerance and Compassion

Find a comfortable seat or lay down. Take a few slow breaths, then simply repeat each statement below three times.

If possible, begin by writing each statement below on a piece of paper. Then, use your paper to guide you through the meditation (rather than looking at a potentially distracting screen). 

  1. I choose to be balanced, happy, and live my life with tolerance and compassion. (repeat 3 times)
  2. I will take the time to notice my arousal level in mind and body when I'm with others. (repeat 3 times)
  3. Even in difficult situations, I intend to sail along with appreciation, inner-ease, and patience. (repeat 3 times)
  4. I will release unwanted feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment as needed. (repeat 3 times) 
  5. I am grateful to everyone for the lessons they teach me. (repeat 3 times)


The "Window of Tolerance" is the optimal zone of arousal where a person is able to...

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The Future of Mental Health

awaken calm focus joy Nov 07, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

We are Living with an Epidemic of Mental Health Problems

The numbers are staggering. 

The percentage of people in the US suffering from depression, anxiety, and poor focus/memory are historically high and increasing by more than 10% each decade. The rise is even faster among adolescents. If you are struggling with one of these common mental health problems, you are most definitely not alone!

Currently available treatments often don’t work well over the long term. 

Antidepressant medications still form the mainstay of treatment for depression and anxiety, while stimulants are the primary treatment for ADD. Consumers and professionals alike are realizing the limitations of conventional treatments and desperately looking for more natural, safe yet effective alternatives.

Natural approaches to mental health treatment are too often disorganized and unscientific.

There is no unified theory explaining the epidemic of disorders, either in the...

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CBD Oil for Mental Health for Kids and Teens

calm focus kids Oct 03, 2019

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

What Kids, Teens and Parents Should Know About CBD Oil for Mental Health

By now you have probably heard of the potential health benefits of the natural plant-based remedy, CBD oil. It is derived from the cannabis plant, the same plant-type that provides marijuana. Cannabis plants have actually been utilized for millennia all over the world for their healing properties.

Understandably, there is some confusion about the differences between CBD oil and marijuana products. CBD oil that is hemp-based is legal in all 50 states. On the other hand, marijuana products vary by state in terms of their legality for medical versus recreational. CBD oil and marijuana both differ in their safety and efficacy for mental health symptoms in kids, teens, and adults.

I know, it's confusing. Let’s try to sort this all out...  

The Chemical Components of CBD, Marijuana, and Hemp

The term cannabis is used to identify a genus of flowering plants in...

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CBD and Cannabis For ADHD

calm focus joy Sep 26, 2019

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Does CBD Oil Help Relieve Symptoms of ADHD?

There is sparse evidence that CBD oil can improve the core symptoms of ADHD, and the evidence that exists is mostly anecdotal. Nonetheless, that isn’t stopping patients from trying it.

The current concern is that consumer/patient use has sped past scientific evidence for use and regulation on product quality. That means long-term effects are virtually unknown and snake-oil companies continue to pop up with CBD products that are not pure. 

An article in ADDitude magazine summarized this:

“During [a person’s] development, I worry about cannabinoids, both CBD and THC,” says UCLA’s Evans. “There are adenosine receptors (and CB2 receptors) on the microglia that are critical for brain development, and CBD inhibits adenosine uptake. This may be a beneficial factor for epilepsy and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, but who knows for ADHD.” 

The article...

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