Monday, 24 June 2013

Magnesium For Anxiety - What is It, And Does it Work?

While most people often feel nervous or anxious when faced with a problem or issue, an anxiety disorder is much more severe. Anxiety disorders often greatly interfere with an individual's ability to live a normal life. 

There are also different types of anxiety disorders, from specific phobias to post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder and OCD or obsessive compulsive disorders. 

Among the newest treatment forms for anxiety include magnesium.

Let's discuss the benefits, and possible risks of using magnesium for anxiety disorders.

Where Is Magnesium Abundant? 

Magnesium is a mineral which is abundant in the earth, as well as in food. It is plentiful in foods like dark chocolate, brown rice, almonds, hazelnuts, lima beans, peanuts, spinach, okra, Swiss chard, bananas and hazelnuts.  The water supply also contains considerable magnesium levels. However, despite the prevalence of magnesium in most food items, the average dietary magnesium consumption of most humans is still insufficient. (Source: Time For Wellness)

How to Increase Magnesium Intake 

According to health experts, it was as early as the 1920's that magnesium was utilized to treat depression and induce sleep or relaxation. 

In a number of studies, patients who were given between 125 to 300 mg of magnesium glycinate with each meal during bedtime were shown to have had recovered rapidly from major depression in less than seven days. 

The recovery also included a lessening of symptoms of suicidal thoughts, irritability, insomnia, alcohol and tobacco abuse, as well as short-term memory loss. 

The evidence gathered from the studies has led many health care professionals to suggest that magnesium should be prescribed for treating resistant depression (even though more research was still needed). 

To increase magnesium intake, eat vegetables and other food items rich in the mineral, as well as take a good-quality supplement which contains magnesium glycinate (a variant that's better absorbed by the body).  (Source: Time For Wellness)

The Benefits and Risks of Magnesium Treatment

While there have been no negative or adverse effects observed or noted with magnesium consumption, some supplements have been noted to cause troublesome effects, the most common of which is diarrhea (especially when the dose goes beyond  350 mg). 

In people who have reduced kidney function, high levels can lead to a condition called “hypermagnesemia”. But in people who have normal kidney functions, magnesium intake is generally considered to be safe. (Source: Science-Based Medicine)

While the United States Office of Dietary Supplements notes that most magnesium supplements are relatively safe, some products may cause irritating side effects such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea.  

Some supplements can also leave a dull, chalk-like taste in the mouth. Health experts also stress that if you have renal disease, then you should not take magnesium supplements. 

These dietary supplements may also negatively interact with drugs like neuromuscular blockers and  tetracycline antibiotics. Talk to your doctor before you to decide to take this, as he or she may have a suitable dose for you.

Photo Credits:

“Roasted California Almonds” by  HealthAliciousNess/Flickr
“Doctor and Patient” by  Vic/Flickr

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Breathing Exercises to Calm Yourself Down

Breathing is the most important thing we do. We breathe to live. We will die if we have no access to oxygen for about 4 minutes. 

But besides our necessity of it for survival, breathing has much more uses to man. One of which is to relieve anxiety.

When a person suffers from anxiety disorder, it may be noticeable that his/her breathing habit is affected. 

This change can be felt as one of the following: shallow or quick breathing, monitored breathing (thinking about one’s breathing too much), and over-breathing (because of the feeling that the person is not getting enough air). 

These poor respiration habits may lead to Hyperventilation – which is responsible for causing anxiety attack symptoms such as the rapid beating of the heart and chest pains. 

Thus, to help alleviate a patient suffering from anxiety, the person should learn to improve the way he/she breathes.

Recommended Breathing Exercises:

CO2 Breathing – Hyperventilation gives one the impression that he/she is not taking in enough oxygen. Contrary to that, the body is actually getting more of it and now lacks of carbon dioxide. To do this, cup your hands over your mouth and take your time breathing. This could also be done using a small paper bag.

Deep Breathing for Relaxation – Breathing deeply is great for managing feelings of elevated stress or anxiety. The controlled breathing, along with distancing oneself from taxing environments, help soothe the body and mind. 

The simplest way to do this is first by sitting upright with your arms on top of the armrests. Calmly and deeply inhale through your nose for about five to six seconds, hold for a few more, and finally exhale for about seven seconds. 

Do this for around ten repetitions at first, and then gradually increase as you learn to better handle the exercise. (The anxiety guide Panic Away goes into this in great detail.)

Belly Breathing – This method not only helps in clearing the mind but also cleanses the lungs as well. When starting, allow your right hand to rest atop your chest while your other hand is above your stomach. Then, take a deep and slow breath. Make sure that your left hand becomes more elevated than your right hand. 

Upon exhaling, ensure that every bit of air exit your lungs as you begin another cycle. Do this for around five repetitions. As you progress, you may try removing your hands and utter short and simple words as you breathe.

Cooling Breath – This technique is taken from the pranayama yoga practice. This is done by slightly opening your mouth and curling your tongue upwards. Try to make it look like you are going to pronounce the letter ‘L’ (see video below).

Then, take a slow breath and experience the cool air that pass through the base of your tongue. Hold your breath for a few seconds and gradually release the air through your nose. You can do this as much as you like so that you can feel cooler and calmer afterwards.

Benefits of Breathing Exercises

There are so many benefits in doing these breathing exercises. 

First and foremost, it does not cost anything for a person to perform them. It would be a great save of money if his/her anxiety condition would not escalate to the point of needing prescribed medications nor expensive therapies. 

Secondly, these practices are very simple to do. One does not need to travel elsewhere or do tedious tasks to complete these exercises. 

Lastly, they are not time consuming at all. This is a great help for people with many responsibilities. So, for those who think they are starting to experience anxiety problems, these exercises would be a fine way to begin.

Photo credit:

 "White lips, pale face” by Martinak/Flickr

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Natural Remedies For Anxiety

Anxiety disorder is a serious illness. In worst case situations, doctors have no other choice but to put patients under medication. 

However, there are still natural ways by which one can recover from anxiety – and it is highly advisable for it to be treated as early as possible. It’s always better to be cured by means that do not incorporate drugs. 

Having to resort to medication may lead to unwanted side effects that could only make day to day living less comfortable and efficient. There are various herbs around the world that have been found to heal or ease management of anxiety. 

Trying these gifts of nature first may even prove to be more effective in relieving patients of their problems.

Kava Plant

This may be the most effective herbal cure for moderate to severe anxiety disorder. It is known to effectively alleviate stress, anxiety and insomnia. 

It is vital to note that you should talk to your doctor before using this remedy. There have been rare accounts of serious liver damage brought about by using Kava. 

It is also important to take into consideration a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) which explains that the liver injuries may have been caused by improper and toxic formulations. This happens when the whole Kava plant is used instead of only the root; or when acetone/ethanol is used in extraction of active ingredients instead of clean water.


Passionflower is quite similar to the Kava plant with the exception of having no side effects. Its potency is only a bit weaker as it’s mostly used for mild to moderate levels of anxiety. 

It is also considered to be a sedative and is found to be as effective as actual anti-anxiety drugs. This herb helps in relaxing nerves and muscles, as well as relieves insomnia, mood swings and headaches.


When dealing with mild anxiety, Chamomile is the best cure. Also a sedative, it is used in calming down the nervous and digestive system of the body. It helps increase appetite, clear headaches; and improves lung and liver health as well. Chamomile (in tea form) is safe for patients of an early age as well.

Taking Chamomile should be avoided by those allergic to plants in the daisy family, those with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may induce bleeding, and by pregnant or nursing mothers.


Hops are the flowers of a vine that grows all over Asia, Europe and North America. These flowers are known to have many uses. It is useful in reducing fever. Taking it helps people in managing insomnia, stress and headaches. It also relieves one from indigestion and nervousness.

Although unrelated to anxiety, it may be useful to know that it helps lower uric acid levels, treat infection, skin diseases and rheumatism as well.

Best of all, hops are very safe and are acknowledged to have no drug-related side effects. While being effective in helping people sleep, hops don’t cause drowsiness the next day either.
These are only a few of the many herbal options Mother Earth provides to help us deal with anxiety.

While prescription medicine may be more potent, using natural means grants us peace of mind that what we are absorbing into our bodies are a bit safer (not to mention much cheaper!) Side effects (should there even be some) are much less than the addictive properties of most modern anxiety drugs.


Photo credits:

" Kava" by Verity/Flickr
" Hops" by Raymond Barlow/Flickr