A recent newspaper article highlighted another pharmaceutical shortage, Lorazepam. My Pharmacist colleagues have had a tough few years with shortages and rationing of various medication, and this one makes things no easier. With only two weeks supply of this anxiolytic in the country, anxious people may be even more anxious.
Lorazepam is a Benzodiazepine, and works by enhancing the effect of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter. It is commonly used for acute anxiety or panic attacks to help calm down. It should not be used on a regular ongoing basis as it can be addictive. For people who are having regular anxiety attacks sometimes a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressant like Sertraline or Escitalopram is sometimes prescribed to reduce the frequency of anxiety attacks and the background ongoing anxiety.
So let’s look at alternatives.
There are a number of supplements that are used regularly for anxiety. I have written briefly about some below but please note that this is not my scope of practice or area of expertise, please consult a Naturopath or medical herbalist if you are wanting support in this area.
Ashwaghanda is an adaptogen, which means it supports the body dealing with stress. It has been shown to reduce cortisol, and an animal study from 2000 even showed it was comparable to lorazepam for anxiety.
Chamomile is a well known calming herb, that is most commonly drunk as a tea, but can be taken in tincture or capsule form also. Not to be confused with homeopathic Chamomilla.
Passionflower has been used since the 16th century for its calming properties for anxiety and insomnia. It is believed to increase levels of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.
Hops is used for anxiety and insomnia, and also symptoms like excitability, restlessness and irritability.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is used widely in the body as a co factor in many different processes. It has been shown in a number of studies to be beneficial for depression and anxiety. New Zealand soil tends to be deficient in magnesium, so even if you are eating a good diet you can end up deficient or on the low end. Magnesium supplements come in different forms – eg Oxide is best for constipation, also hydroxide, citrate, glycinate and more. Glycinate is sometimes recommended for insomnia, depression or anxiety because of its high absorption and ability to be utilised by the brain.
Vitamin D3 can be useful in anxiety, especially if you find symptoms are worse in the winter, or you have Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD). Some studies have found it useful for Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) also.
Homeopathy is an effective alternative for supporting mental health. Instead of applying a one size fits all approach to the treatment of anxiety we are trying to find out the individual experience and match that to a remedy. There are over 1000 remedies that have anxiety as a symptom, so if none of these resonate, or there is something else happening, then please reach out for help. I also have not included any information about general symptoms and physical conditions that you may see with the remedies.
Aconite is for shock and fear, and a fantastic remedy for panic attacks. Panic attacks can wake them from sleep (around midnight), and come with a fear of death, rapid heart rate or palpitations, flushing and shortness of breath. They are extremely restless, and the panic attacks may start after a fright or a traumatic event.
Argentum Nitricum can have lots of fears and anxiety, particularly around heights, and health, and they may be claustrophobic. They can also have anticipatory anxiety, and worry they will be late. They can be emotional and laugh and weep easily, and are generally impulsive, suggestible and sympathetic and feel better with company.
Arsenicum Album is one of our leading remedies for anxiety with agitation and restlessness. They are perfectionists and need to control their environment. This can lead to compulsive checking and overworking themselves to the point of exhaustion. they may have panic attacks, especially after midnight, and can have fears of death, robbery and poverty, and a lot of anxiety around health and the well being of family and friends – especially if they rely on them a lot.
Buddleja Davidii is a bush that grows after an area has been bombed. It has become known as the Arnica for the nerves, and helps hold space after trauma for healing. They can withdraw into themselves, and become detatched to protect themselves from all the emotions they are feeling at the same time. There are fears that something will happen, of getting hurt or injured, but also of doctors or dentists.
Gelsemium particularly has anxiety around upcoming events. They may tremble and feel weak or heavy. They prefer to be quiet and left alone. They feel paralysed, they are unable to think and may feel unable to move. Except for their bladder and bowels- they can have nervous diarrhoea or urination, and will generally feel better for a wee.
Lotus is a remedy for anxiety, with difficulty getting to sleep, but once asleep it is hard to wake up. They can have an intense and fast heart beat with the anxiety. It is a remedy for when there has been emotional strain, hurt and separation, or a feeling that they have lost everything. As well as anxiety they may have abrupt mood changes, and feel like they are on a spiritual journey.
Phosphorus can have a lot of anxiety, and are extremely sensitive to situations. They are intensely social, and love and need people, which means they can hide those fears so as to still be liked. They can also burn out and end up exhausted or needing down time to recover. Phosphorus is afraid of the dark, thunderstorms and that something bad will happen.
If you are having ongoing anxiety attacks or finding it interferes with your life, Homeopathy can help. The remedies above can be excellent in an acute situation, but to make a long term difference then an appointment for individualised treatment – that may take several appointments, or more depending on what is going on for you – is the most effective way of using Homeopathy. Please message me if I can help you with your anxiety.