Thursday, November 13, 2008

Herbs can decrease anxiety

Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat both physical and mental illnesses. There are several herbs that can be used to decrease anxiety and reduce the symptoms of anxiety attacks. Herbs known as adaptogens, such as ginseng (Panax ginseng), wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), borage (Borago officinalis), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and nettle (Urtica dioica) may help to alleviate anxiety attacks.

Anxiety Attacks
By: Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, PhD, ND, DACBN

What Is an Anxiety Attack?

Also known as a panic attack, an anxiety attack is characterized by intense episodes in which the sufferer experiences such symptoms similar to a heart attack such as heart palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, sweating, and trembling. They may be triggered by a stressful event or they may come on for no discernible reason. Anxiety attacks, and the fear of their occurrence, can prevent suffers from leading a normal life.

What Are The Symptoms Of An Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack is often mistaken for a heart attack as the symptoms are very similar. Increased heart and breathing rates, dry mouth, chest pains, loss of touch with reality, light-headedness, nausea, numbness or tingling in the extremities, sweating, and diarrhea are common symptoms of an anxiety attack.

What Causes Anxiety Attacks?

Anxiety attacks may be triggered by an illness or a stressful situation, or they may come on unexpectedly. The memory of a stressful event that occurred in the past can also cause an anxiety attack.

When To Get Help For Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks can be very distressing and debilitating. Some sufferers have found supplements or home care techniques that allow them to manage anxiety attacks before they become a problem. But you may need to seek the help of a natural health care professional or licensed therapist if your anxiety attacks are interrupting your daily activities and preventing you from leading a normal life. Seek professional help immediately if you experience a sudden anxiety attack that you cannot control, or if you experience chest pain, sweating, difficulty breathing, or pain in your jaw, neck and arm during an attack.

Preventing Anxiety Attacks

Exercise: Any cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart rate is a good way to reduce anxiety and the stress that may cause an anxiety attack. Walking, swimming, biking, Pilates and aerobics are good choices.

Relaxation: Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation may help to alleviate anxiety and provide tools for controlling symptoms during an anxiety attack.

Avoid Certain Substances: Avoid using substances such as drugs, alcohol, and coffee that can contribute to or aggravate the symptoms of anxiety.

Dietary Changes: Many people have found that eating a vegetarian diet can decrease feelings of anxiety. Red meat, in particular, releases stress hormones within the body. Whole grains, on the other hand, release endorphins that promote a sense of well being.

Managing an Anxiety Attack

Herbs: Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat both physical and mental illnesses. There are several herbs that can be used to decrease anxiety and reduce the symptoms of anxiety attacks. Talk with your health care professional before you try any new herbs or herbal combinations. Herbs known as adaptogens, such as ginseng (Panax ginseng), wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), borage (Borago officinalis), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and nettle (Urtica dioica) may help to alleviate anxiety attacks. Other herbs that may be helpful include:

* Chamomile: (Matricaria chamomilla ) This herb is often associated with relaxation. It may be helpful in reducing anxiety.
* Kava: (Piper methysticum ) Kava is helpful for mild anxiety.
* St John's Wort: (Hypericum perforatum ) St John's Wort has been used for many years to help promote an overall sense of well being and reduce stress and anxiety.

Supplements: As with herbs, check with your health care provider before introducing any new supplements to your diet.

* 5-HTP: (5-hydroxytryptophan) This supplement is a mood lifter that may help to promote restful sleep and decrease anxiety.
* Inositol: Inositol may be helpful in decreasing anxiety with long term use.

Treatment Methods:
* Acupuncture: Anxiety causes tension that disrupts the flow of the qi. Acupuncture can help to restore harmony and induce a state of deep relaxation.

* Mental Exercises: Meditation, guided imagery, art, music, and other mental exercises are a useful way to reduce stress and promote relaxation in your life.

* Relaxation Techniques: Slow, diaphragmatic breathing and conscious muscle relaxation can help to manage stress by calming the body and clearing the mind of stressors.

* Aromatherapy: Essential oils of lavender, chamomile, geranium, rose, neroli, sweet marjoram, and ylang-ylang are commonly recommended for stress relief. They help to reduce anxiety and tension and can be used in a massage, added to a bath, or inhaled through a vaporizer.

* Massage: A regular massage in which the practitioner uses such techniques as rubbing, kneading, and pummeling, can be very beneficial in the management of anxiety attacks. It can help to increase blood circulation, reduce pain, and relieve muscle tension. Massage also help to release endorphins, substances that have a mood-enhancing effect.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

SIBERIAN GINSENG (ELEUTHERO) - Eleutherococcus Senticosus

Eleutherococcus senticosus (formerly Acanthopanax senticosus) is a species of small, woody shrub in the family Araliaceae native to Northeastern Asia. In Chinese medicine it is known as cì wǔ jiā (刺五加). It is commonly called eleuthero, and was previously marketed in the United States as Siberian Ginseng as it has similar herbal properties to those of Panax ginseng. However, it belongs to a different genus in the family Araliaceae, and it is currently illegal in the United States to market eleuthero as Siberian Ginseng since "ginseng" only refers to Panax species.

The herb grows in mixed and coniferous mountain forests, forming low undergrowth or is found in groups in thickets and edges. E. senticosus is sometimes found in oak groves at the foot of cliffs, very rarely in high forest riparian woodland. Its native habitat is East Asia, China, Japan and Russia. E. senticosus is broadly tolerant of soils, growing in sandy, loamy and heavy clay soils with acid, neutral or alkaline chemistry and including soils of low nutritional value. It can tolerate sun or dappled shade and some degree of pollution. E. senticosus is a deciduous shrub growing to 2m at a slow rate. It flowers in July in most habitats. The flowers are hermaphroditic and are pollinated by insects.

E. senticosus is a new addition to Western natural medicine, but has quickly gained a reputation similar to that of the better known and more expensive Chinese Ginseng. Though the chemical make-up of the two herbs differs, their effects seem to be similar.

The herb is an adaptogen, is anti-cholesteremic, is mildly anti-inflammatory, is antioxidant, is a nervine and an immune tonic. It is useful when the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) is depleted. Symptoms of this condition include fatigue, stress, neurasthenia and sore muscles associated with the hypo-functioning of the endocrine system, and adrenal exhaustion indicated by a quivering tongue, dark circles under the eyes, and dilating/contracting pupils. Eleuthero may alleviate these symptoms.

Siberian Ginseng Facts

Siberian Ginseng is a tall, prickly shrub native to Russia, China, Korea and Japan. It is known for its anti-fatigue, energy-lifting properties and its ability to help prevent stress-induced ailments. Siberian Ginseng is routinely used by Russian athletes to improve their stamina, reflexes, coordination and athletic performance. It is also considered the number one, ultimate aphrodisiac. Siberian Ginseng is used as a cure-all tonic and rejuvenator for many things from impotence to heart disease and anti aging..

How Siberian Ginseng Works

Siberian Ginseng contains choline, a brain chemical for learning and memory retention. This helps improve mental performance and alertness. its antioxidant properties prevent cellular damage due to oxidation to help with heart disease and cancer prevention. Siberian Ginseng contains saponins which inhibit the growth of cancer cells and can convert diseased cells into normal ones. It gives the body a better ability to cope with stress by normalizing body functions and exerting beneficial effects on the adrenal glands (the ones that secrete stress-fighting hormones). Siberian Ginseng has compounds similar to estrogen that help control menopause symptoms like hot flashes. Other properties in this herb help support sexual function by improving sexual performance, sexual desire and fertility in both men and women.

Possible Benefits

* Tonic for overall good health and antiaging
* Remedy for insomnia
* Promotes mental vigor and alertness
* Increases stamina and endurance, mentally and physically
* Improves reflexes and coordination
* Protects against stress-related illness
* Potent aphrodisiac for improved sexual performance and fertility
* Helpful with menopause symptoms like hot flashes and irregular periods
* Enhances lung and immune functions; used to treat bronchitis
* Helps control metabolism, appetite and digestion
* Normalizes blood pressure and reduces cholesterol
* Helps cure colds and infections

Other uses for Siberian Ginseng

* Alzheimer's disease
* Athletic performance
* Attention deficit disorder
* Chemotherapy support
* Chronic fatigue syndrome
* Common cold/sore throat
* Diabetes
* Fibromyalgia
* Influenza (flu)
* Stress and fatigue

Usage Guidelines

People who have high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, or who use heart medications should not use this herb. In rare cases, postmenopausal women can experience vaginal bleeding due to its mildy estrongenic effect; women should tell their doctor they are using this herb, so this won't be mistaken as a sign of uterine cancer. Siberian Ginseng can be taken on a long term basis.

Other Remedies of Siberian Ginseng

Siberian ginseng is highly valued as an adaptogen, a substance that normalizes adverse conditions of the body. It is also used as a stimulant. Russians prescribe it for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy due to its anti-radiation effect.

Modern studies conducted by Russian scientists show that Siberian ginseng relieves stress, lowers toxicity of some common drugs that tend to produce side effects in humans, increase mental alertness, improve resistance to colds and mild infections, and be beneficial in cases where a person is continuously in contact with environmental stresses.

Siberian ginseng extract was shown to stimulate cellular immunity. It was found to stimulate T-cell production, especially helper cells. Thus Siberian ginseng is touted for numerous immune-related disorders. German scientists have found that this herb may be useful for treatment in the early stages of AIDS. It is found to retard the spread of the virus by a synergistic action of the elevated numbers of both helper and cytotoxic T cells.

Safety (Side effects / precaution)

Reported side effects have been minimal with use of eleuthero.

Mild, transient diarrhea has been reported in a very small number of users. Eleuthero may cause insomnia in some people if taken too close to bed-time.

Eleuthero is not recommended for individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure. It can be used during pregnancy or lactation. However, pregnant or lactating women using eleuthero should avoid products that have been adulterated with Panax ginseng or other related species that are contraindicated.

Siberian Ginseng Role for Anti-Aging

Studies on Siberian ginseng have shown that it has considerable promise for increasing longevity and improving overall health. The plant may also play a role in the treatment of hypertension, blood sugar irregularities, and depression. Siberian ginseng is known to boost overall immune function and preliminary findings also suggests that it may prove valuable in the long-term management of various diseases of the immune system, including HIV infection and chronic fatigue syndrome. Healthy people who were given a daily supplement of Siberian ginseng were found to have increased numbers of T-lymphocytes. Siberian ginseng also supports the body by helping the liver detoxify harmful toxins.

Studies carried out in Russia have confirmed that ginseng can also exert a protective effect on the body during radiation exposure. Therefore, it may be of benefit to patients undergoing radiotherapy to treat cancer. The plant also helps the liver to detoxify harmful toxins. Animal studies have shown that Siberian ginseng helps to protect against ethanol, sodium barbital, and the tetanus toxoid, and chemotherapeutic agents, among others. Siberian ginseng has also been shown to enhance mental acuity and physical endurance without the side effects associated with caffeine. Research suggests that Siberian ginseng improves oxygen utilization by exercising muscle, thus it would be logical to assume that it may help to increase endurance and speed recovery from exercise. However, research in this area has produced somewhat contradictory results. In research conducted on people of average athletic abilities, for instance, people given Siberian ginseng have shown marked improvements in endurance. However, in a recent study on experienced distance runners, researchers saw no effects on exercise performance.

Biological Name: Eleutherococcus senticosus, Acanthopanox senticosus Araliaceae
Other Names: Siberian ginseng, ci wu ju, Eleuthero, touch-me-not, devil's shrub

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