Another “Flatnote Magazine” (http://www.flatnote.co.za) article written by me:
Everyday, we are exposed to the pressures and stresses of life. The mere fact that we strive to survive is a stress on the body in and of itself. It is incorrect to treat stress, in general, as the enemy. We need some manner of stress in order for us to survive. It is vital to the mechanisms of life itself. It is, however, the extra stresses that are the root of the problem.
Let’s face it…we live in the modern age. Life moves at a very rapid pace when considering how our ancestors lived just one hundred to one hundred and fifty years ago. The pace at which life currently moves is very stressful indeed. Although our bodies are designed to adapt to change, it takes a very long time to do so and we just have not had enough time to evolve enough to handle the extra workload of modern life today. People “suffering from stress” are at an all time high; and most of them are the younger people. They are manifesting with rapid heartbeat, chest pain, hyperventilation, tingling in the extremities and ultimately, full blown panic attack. Most times they are not aware of what a panic attack is, mistaking it for a heart attack or stroke, with the impending feeling of doom and that they are going to die. It is truly one of the worst and most frightening experiences that one can experience. How can this problem be treated naturally and holistically?
Now, the most natural response for most people is for a “quick fix”. So, off we go for a diagnosis and once it is made, the patient is given (or even demands) a prescription for a tranquilizer. Voila! No more anxiety or panic attacks. Yippee! What has happened here? The SYMPTOM was treated and gotten rid of. The patient will be on the tranquilizers for a few months to control the problem and the dosage may have to be increased as tolerance to the drug increases. This opens the patient up to dependency. As soon as the drug is discontinued the patient usually relapses. This is not only the conventional doctor’s fault, many herbalists do it too and sometimes the patient usually demands a tranquilizer anyway.
What is the answer? An holistic approach is best in this case. We need to treat the whole person. Obviously, there has to be a cause for the anxiety in the first place. One needs to find out exactly what that cause is, because unless you do, the anxiety will be permanent. During the holistic and constitutional analysis, causes for the anxiety are determined. Sometimes these causes are chemical, for example, caffeine (coffee, black tea), stimulant drugs (some cough and cold and flu remedies – you’ll be surprised – and we give these to our children!) etc. Sometimes it is our environment, whether it is home or work, financial worries, relationship problems etc. These need to be determined and dealt with in order for the patient to overcome (or eliminate) the problem instead of medicating oneself with pharmaceutical or herbal tranquilizers as that does not solve the problem.
If your job is stressful try and find another one in which you may be happier. Job satisfaction is extremely important. People spend most of their waking hours at work…it stands to reason that it should be pleasant. If it is not possible for you to find another job, then you will need to find ways to deal with the various stressors of your current job. Physical exercise is a very good way to help eliminate stress. It also builds the body’s innate anti-stress mechanisms. This need not be working out at the gym; simple walking is great exercise for body and mind.
Mental exercise is extremely important too. Take up reading and other hobbies as well as learning meditation techniques. Meditation need not be as complicated as most people think. Simply relax, lying down or seated, whichever is more comfortable. Do not cross any of your limbs (arms or legs). Now simply slowly breathe in to a count of seven and out to a count of seven. Once you are nice and relaxed and have determined what a good breathing rhythm is, simply start counting backwards from one hundred. Once you get to zero, you may slowly open your eyes again. Simple counting or counting your breaths is one of the simplest meditation techniques that anyone can do.
As far as herbal medicine goes, the practitioner should suggest relaxing and tranquilizing herbs, but it should not be the only form of treatment. Botanicals which actually “feed” and normalize the nervous tissue are extremely important for the long term wellbeing of the patient. A good vitamin B supplement is also essential along with certain other nutritional supplements, like GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and the mineral magnesium, both of which are tranquilizing substances. In other words, there should be a “complete treatment protocol” and not just tranquilizing monotherapy.
Finally, a word of caution: Valerian, the infamous herbal tranquilizer, is not an universal tranquilizer that works on everybody. For some people, taking valerian can prove to be a nightmare! It has the opposite effect in these people, making their anxiety worse. Always start with the smallest dose of valerian to determine how you react to it.
So, until next time, remember to keep that stress in check.
Yours in health.
Disclaimer: the information imparted in this article should not be construed as medical advice and neither the magazine nor I shall be held responsible for any damage incurred to anyone using this information without supervision of an appropriate health care professional. It is very irresponsible to stop taking any current medicines without consulting your doctor. It is very dangerous to combine herbal medicines with pharmaceutical drugs, please consult an herbal practitioner in this regard; your medical doctor is usually NOT trained in drug/herbal medicine interactions. If you would like to take a natural approach to your health, please consult a natural medicine professional.
NB: Herbal (botanical) medicine IS NOT homeopathy.