Natural Solutions for Anxiety: Heart Heat by Grace Calihan, ND, LAc

The warm summer season is associated with the heart, according to traditional Chinese medicine.  The heart’s element is fire, which represents joy, passion and warmth, and the summer is the easiest time to connect with these feelings and balance your heart meridian.

When the heart is out of balance, the most common symptom is anxiety.  This is something that everyone has experienced at some point or another.  Anxiety can be about work, about your family, about your health, or about nothing at all.  Anxiety starts to be a problem when the sensations of apprehension and fear are out of proportion to any known cause.  It’s the feeling of panic that keeps you from getting your work done or interrupts your sleep.  Symptoms include nervousness, irritability, dread, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.  You may even feel shaky, restless, and tired.  And anxiety has some long-term health effects as well –it can have health repercussions on your cardiovascular system, your digestion and even your nervous system.

So what can we do to balance our hearts and decrease the anxiety?  The most important part is to get a strong understanding of where your anxiety is coming from.  Can you identify the source?  Look not only in your life and relationships, but also your diet and lifestyle.  Stressful jobs and relationships can of course be the root cause of unmanageable anxiety, but so can blood sugar imbalance and poor sleep.  Your naturopath can also run tests to see if there is an imbalance in your endocrine system or your nervous system.  The adrenal stress index is a very useful tool to help find the root cause of anxiety, especially when that “wired and tired” feeling is present.  If your anxiety also comes with mood changes and trouble sleeping, a neurotransmitter test might be indicated.  Once you (and your doctor) determine the root cause, a strong treatment plan can follow.  In the meantime, here are some tricks to help reduce your symptoms of anxiety on the short term:

Belly breathing –this ancient technique of diaphragmatic breathing helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) and minimizes your sympathetic nervous system response (“flight or flight”).  The easiest way to practice this is to lie on your back with a small book resting on your tummy.  With each inhale, bring the book up toward the ceiling as you pooch your abdomen out, leaving your shoulders and ribcage as still as possible.  On the exhale, bring the book back down toward your spine.

Rescue Remedy –this flower essence blend was designed by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s to help restore inner calm and control.  It can be very helpful for anxiety.

Chamomile tea –this age-old remedy for stress and anxiety is incredibly effective!  Chamomile is a nervine (protects and restores your nervous system), as well as analgesic, anti-spasmodic, and carminative.  This is especially helpful for those whose stress effects their digestive tract.

If you are dealing with anxiety, prioritize balancing your heart this summer and work with your naturopath to determine the root cause of your symptoms.  All new patients who are interested in working on anxiety symptoms and the heart meridian this summer receive 10% off the first visit.

Dr Grace Calihan, ND LAc



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