As anxiety, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, and sleep issues are on the rise, the number of prescriptions written to treat these problems are also sky-rocketing. In many cases, individual changes toward healthier foods and lifestyle, relaxation work, exercise and detoxification can often create healthy improvements in the body that may help a patient reduce or avoid the need for prescription medications.
We will discuss a few supplements below which can be part of a good naturopathic plan to help your body heal itself. These can allow prescription dosages to be lowered, and possibly even become unnecessary.
Please remember that it is always important and safest to talk to your prescribing doctor before stopping any medication, and to work with a naturopathic doctor or other holistic physician who is knowledgeable of using natural medicines with conventional drugs during this healing process.
Anti-Anxiety Alternative: Wu Wei Zi (Schizandra Berries)
Anti-anxiety drugs are among the most commonly prescribed drugs, with over 280 million prescriptions written annually. It has been shown that many of these are over-prescribed. In fact, research published in the April 2011 edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed about 25% of people who are given these dangerous medications do not have a proper diagnosis (1).
Other studies show that people who use anti-anxiety medication have a 36% increased mortality risk. That means persons using these drugs are almost 40% more likely to die than people who do not use them (2). While anti-anxiety medications can be lifesaving in urgent situations, in most cases, there are natural alternatives that can help while a person starts to work on the underlying causes of anxiety reactions in the body.
From a naturopathic perspective, these are life stresses (and how we process these), poor sleep, and excess caffeine and sugar intake. Naturopathic nutrient and botanical supplements that can help include GABA, magnesium, lavender preparations and tryptophan.
One favorite calming herb that we use in our clinic is an herbal tea called Wu Wei Zi. It’s a tea that’s been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It’s made with dried Schizandra berries. In Chinese, “Wu Wei Zi" means "Five Flavored Herb" because the berry tastes sweet, sour, salty, bitter and acidic. It supports the function of the adrenal glands (the glands which release our stress hormones) and keeps them from over-stimulating (3), which can release adrenaline and cause feelings of anxiety (like palpitations, sweating, etc.).