Anxiety: Underlying Causes and Natural Solutions
One of the things I run across often in clinical practice is anxiety. I see it in people of all ages and in both men and women. Unfortunately, the only solution many people get from their doctors comes in the form of a prescription medication with some nasty side effects.
Let's unpack it a bit to examine some underlying causes and some natural things you can try to help if you are plagued by anxiety.
I talk a lot about the thyroid because it can effect so many things. Anxiety can result from a thyroid that is out of balance. Anxiety is usually seen when thyroid hormones levels are on the high side. One of the more common things I see is that thyroid hormone levels fluctuate greatly in those with an autoimmune thyroid issue (the most common reason for hypothyroidism). When the thyroid gland is being broken down, bits of the gland are released into the bloodstream and elevate thyroid hormone levels. This can cause anxiety, especially if someone is on a thyroid hormone medication. That's why it's so important to understand what, specifically, is going on with your thyroid if you know or suspect you have an issue. Then you can create a strategy to deal with the true issue.
Another common underlying root cause of anxiety is gut dysfunction. One of the important neurotransmitters is serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is primarily associated with regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. Recent research has shown that approximately 90% of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut, not the brain. This has led to a growing interest in the connection between serotonin and gut health.
The gut produces serotonin through enterochromaffin cells and its production is influenced by the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and have an important role in digestion, metabolism, and immune system function.
Studies have shown that alterations in the gut microbiome can lead to changes in serotonin production, which can in turn affect mood, appetite, and sleep. Additionally, disturbances in the gut-brain axis, which is the communication pathway between the gut and the brain, have been linked to several mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome through a clean diet, regular exercise and the management of stress can help promote optimal serotonin production and support overall mental and physical health.
Now that we have established that serotonin is very important, we look at building blocks. One of those important building blocks is Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are important for regulating mood and anxiety. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin B6 are associated with increased symptoms of anxiety and depression. When I run nutrient testing in my practice, I observe that B vitamin levels are low on many of those I test.
One small randomized controlled trial found that vitamin B6 supplementation reduced anxiety symptoms in women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Another study found that a combination of vitamin B6 and magnesium reduced anxiety symptoms in women with PMS.
Blood sugar can also contribute to symptoms of anxiety. Large blood sugar swings and dips that cause blood sugar to drop can cause a person to feel anxious. When the blood sugar drops, the brain begins to trigger a series of events to help raise it. That includes a burst of cortisol, or stress hormone plus adrenaline to help bring blood sugar back up.
As you can see, there are many things that can contribute to anxiety. It's important to figure out which factor or combination of factors are at play so that you can address the root cause and get the result you want!
If you have health issues that you would like to ask questions about, feel free to schedule a short, free discovery call where I can listen and see if I can help!
To your health,