women stress anxiety

Naturopathic Treatment for Anxiety

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

pic showing how a naturopath can help anxiety

Anxiety disorders can range in severity from simple situational nervousness, for example feeling anxious about making a presentation, to more complex anxiety or panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

What Causes Anxiety?

The causes of anxiety problems can include:

  • Home environment
  • Work stress
  • Personality traits – think worriers and type A
  • Imbalances in neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine
  • Vitamin/mineral or essential fatty acid deficiencies
  • Trauma like marital separation, assault, job loss or car accidents.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

The symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle tension
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Nervousness, feeling jumpy or on edge
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Loose stools or diarrhea

Anxiety can become a vicious cycle.  You are under stress and so you feel anxious and so you put extra demands on your body’s ability to cope with stress.  This further depletes your coping resources and so your ability to deal with stress goes even lower and your anxiety level goes even higher.

How a Naturopath Would Approach Anxiety Disorders

There are several things that need to take place to calm things down for you:

  1. Remove or reduce sources of stress where possible
  2. Exercise.  Studies show that you will cope with stress better if you are exercising than if you are not
  3. Add some stress reduction techniques. These may include yoga, tai chi, massage therapy, breathing exercises, meditation, and psychotherapy.
  4. Nourish your body’s stress glands or adrenal glands
  5. Nourish your brain with B vitamins, magnesium, and essential fatty acids
  6. Calm your nervous system.  Herbs can help calm your nervous system to help with sleep, reduce daytime stress and allow you to restore your stress adaptation mechanisms.
  7. Balance neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and GABA
  8. Balance hormones.  Hormones play a significant role in how the brain works. Many of the men and women I see are suffering from hormone-related anxiety.

The Benefits to Natural Treatment for Anxiety

  1. Better ability to cope with whatever life throws you
  2. Lasting improvement versus recurrence as soon as you stop a medication
  3. A stronger system
  4. More restful sleep
  5. Better hormonal balance
  6. Better brain and nervous system function

Book an appointment here or call the office for more information at 416-481-0222.

Anxiety Medications

Medications usually fall into one of three categories: benzodiazepines, SNRI’s and SSRI’s.

Benzodiazepines: Valium, Ativan.  These medications temporarily calm down the nervous system while taking them and act fairly quickly.  Common side effects of Valium and Ativan are emotional blunting or numbness, drowsiness, lack of energy, clumsiness, slow reflexes, slurred speech, confusion and disorientation, depression, dizziness, lightheadedness, impaired thinking and judgment, memory loss, forgetfulness, nausea, stomach upset, blurred or double vision.

SSRI’s: Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Effexor.  These medications artificially raise the “feel good” neurotransmitter serotonin and/or norepinephrine.  They may provide relief during periods of acute stress, but the effects are only temporary while taking them. Common side effects of SSRI’s include: Nausea, nervousness, headaches, sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, dizziness, stomach upset and weight gain


DISCLAIMER: The information provided here may not apply precisely to your individual situation. Diagnostic and therapeutic choices must always be tailored to the individual patient’s circumstances, and consultation with a licensed naturopathic physician should be undertaken before following any of the treatment strategies suggested in this website.

Article Name
Whether it is situational anxiety or more severe generalized anxiety, naturopathic treatment offers many ways to address the root of the problem naturally.