First to using herbs for me, wanted second opinion

benjaminbApril 29, 2009

Hello all,

As of the last 2 months I have been experiencing severe anxiety which include chest pains, side aches, pressure in my head, pretty much every symptom it seems has happened. I went to a local natural food place today, and spoke with a very helpful lady who pointed me into the direction of a few homeopathic approaches to this nuisance I've been having.

For my chest pains and palpitations she gave me hawthorn in form of drops to put on my tongue. For the anxiety she gave me passion flower and skullcap for a concoction to simmer overnight with. I also received licorice root because my adrenals are being overcharged for 90% of the day.

I was given a prescription 2 days ago for celexa which is an anti depressant and the form that they prescribed it to me in, seemed like they just picked a name out of the hat. I would just very much rather take the homeopathic approach and wanted to get a second opinion that this a safe route being the first time I've tried this. I read somewhere that skullcap can lose it's potency when boiled also, not sure if this is true. Thank you for your time.


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Hi benjaminb,
There is a difference between plant remedies that you process & Homeopathic preparations that are always ready formulated.
Drops under the tongue may be Homeopathic, but what you simmer are herbs; it is unclear from your post if the licorice root is any certain form.
Having every symptom possible is a good indication of an anxiety disorder & that is not necessarily depression.
Since you have the remedies to try it is worth giving them a chance to see how they work for you. The Celexa is always available & the symptoms you experience are unsettling, but not life threatening.
As for the scullcap: the boiling water is typically poured hot over the powdered herb, closely covered & left to steep before drinking the fluid. The instructions may have been to let the herbs then sit, not simmer, in the solution over night to maximize any extraction.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 11:26PM
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Hi Ben,
Do you know what is causing your anxiety? I think if I were experiencing anxiety I would first try to figure out what the issue was. Then I would do relaxation techniques. Find a solution that, while may not be ideal, you are able to live with.

I got anxiety the other morning (I left the sprinklers on all night... in San Diego!!!!!!!) and started getting really "heart-thumping, hands chilled, stressed" feeling... then I talked myself down. What's the problem? I left the water on. Why is that bad? Because it's a waste and my water bill will be high. What's the worst thing that can happen? My water bill will be high. And then what will happen? I will have to pay it. Ok. Well. Not much I can do about it now, and then I realized my plants just got a really good deep soaking. Bonus! I'm still not happy with it, but I found the root issue (waste, money) and identified the result (high bill, deep watering) and was able to let it go.

If you can root out your problem, identify what you are really having an issue with, and find an upside, or a solution that will work, even if not ideal, your anxiety will go down. Talk to yourself. Treat yourself gently.

Perhaps you do need medications. But I would try a massage, sauna, long swim, meditation, long walk in the woods, etc... first before trying to take anything to "make" it go away. That doesn't really work, IMO. You can mask it, but truly releasing the problem is the only thing that will make it really go away.

I have an exercise that I do after my workout. Breathing exercises can be done in a short amount of time and I think really work. I do the second exercise a lot, standing with legs out the width of my shoulders, then bend my knees, open my arms up slowly until they are arced over my head, straightening my legs slowly and breathing in. Then slowly lowering my arms, bending my knees until my arms are in a circle at my waist and breathing out. One trick I use is when I'm breathing out and my arms are moving down, I "breath out" the problem and then when I move my arms up and breath in, I "breath in" good thoughts/good feelings/health.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 12:25PM
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Techniques like relaxation exercises can be helpful, but it's important to realize the difference between frequent, severe, disabling anxiety attacks and occasional situational anxiety; simple fixes for the former problem are not likely.

In regard to herbs, evidence to date suggests that kava is the only herb with a well-documented anti-anxiety effect (there are safety concerns with its use, however). Passiflora and valerian have been used for this purpose but there's too little evidence to recommend them at this time. St. John's wort has been used to treat anxiety; there's better documentation of its effectiveness for depression as opposed to anxiety. More on herbal remedies for anxiety and depression here. Of course, it's smart to discuss using any of these herbs with your physician, in part to prevent them from interacting with any prescription medications you may be taking (St. John's wort plus prescription andipressants/anti-anxiety drugs may be a bad combination, for instance).

As for homeopathic preparations, side effects are unlikely, mainly because true homeopathic "drugs" are diluted down so far with water that there's unlikely to be a single molecule of any active substance in them. If one believes the claims about water having a "memory" of what was in there before it was diluted out, there might be some placebo effect of the drug, but beyond that there's zilch to support the idea of any homeopathic treatment for anxiety (or any other disorder, for that matter).

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 1:34PM
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Thank you all for your replies, it is much appreciated. I now have a new understanding what homeopathic actually is. As far as trying to force this all away by taking something to aleve my anxiety I was sort of on my last straw. Had been doing flow yoga, deep breathing, eating vegan, and being mindful of what exactly is happening with my life, yet for the last 2 months I have been anxious most of the day.
The hawthorn yesterday really took a bunch of pressure off of my chest which was such a relief. Started some B + C complex as well. I've been thinking my heart could really take a break from all this pressure. I tested a small amount of the concoction I made last night with the scullcap and passionflower. This morning my head was very clouded and running different thoughts. Not sure if this could be a result of either of these. Also had rattled nerves all day. But that has been normal with me. Was thinking about maybe possibly taking a journal to record how I feel each day. Feeling paranoid of course about trying this new stuff.
I really do appreciate everybody's advice here though. It will definitely be put to use. Have a nice day/night wherever you are.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 8:47PM
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Hi Benjamin,
Glad to know that you have been trying the most natural things first (yoga, etc) and that the hawthorn worked. Have you found any "triggers" to your anxiety? Or do you just wake up anxious?

Do you have a doctor you trust? Have you tried acupuncture? I find acupuncture to be really helpful personally.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 11:46AM
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Hi Silversword,
To give you an idea of what's happening I do have a doctor I trust and she's actually not too supportive of taking meds to get away from this nuisance. Until just recently did she recommend I take anti-depressants. It seems like everything in the world lately triggers my anxiety, and I try to identify it and move on. However sometimes it's not even a thought, it's just starts uncomfortable and turns into a full blown attack. I also wake up and fall asleep anxious.
Really wanted to look into acupuncture but wasn't sure of how beneficial it was to my particular case. Researched a bit and didn't see anything towards anxiety relief. But if it works for you I'd be more then happy to try it out.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 3:37PM
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Here are a few articles.

Acupuncture for Anxiety

Acupuncture and Stress Anxiety

Acupuncture itself can be very calming. They usually treat with herbs as well. It helped me when I had shingles due to stress. My layman recommendation is a chiropractor appt. followed immediately by a massage appt., followed by an acupuncture appt. Drink a lot of water before and after.

I took anti-depressants after the birth of my child. I didn't personally like them. But if you can't swim, take a boat. I had underlying stress, like I knew my husband was cheating on me, I was working too much, I had a new baby... etc... but it was subconscious. I couldn't acknowledge my life was falling apart so I took it out on my body. I was so frazzled I couldn't figure out which direction to move in. It was like I short-circuited.

Have you tried talking with someone? If you don't mind me asking, what do you mean by "uncomfortable"? Is it physically uncomfortable or mentally?

What about exercises like finding the issue (in your brain, under your skin, wherever you can 'feel' it affecting you) and then surrounding it with peace and love and light (and if you are imagining my real name is Crystal and I'm in a lavender caftan with incense burning you're sorely mistaken, I'm in pinstripes with my hair in a bun). Surround it, tell it you love it, and then roll it off your skin, onto your fingertips and place it on the ground. "Pull" it out of your heart by taking your fingers in front of your chest and firmly brushing/stroking it away from your heart, into your fingers, then shaking your fingers off like you would water. Put your fingers to your head, take a firm grasp, vibrate your fingers and "pull" the energy out, then shake it off your fingers.

My husband, who was formerly a massage therapist, would take showers after doing a massage and "wipe" the energy from his patient off of him by starting at the top of his head and working down, like one would do if they were trying to dry off without a towel... big, firm, wiping motions. He was letting the water take the energy away.

This may sound like mumbo jumbo and if it does ignore it. But I have anxiety as well, and I used to get horrible shingles, and I'm just 30, so it's unusual. I would also grit my teeth at night. Nightguards didn't work. What finally did work was concentrating on relaxing my body, and inserting my tongue between my teeth just the slightest. It was a physical reminder to keep my teeth apart. Perhaps you need a "signal" to yourself. A reminder to lower your anxiety.

I truly think most anxiety is self-induced. Most, not all. Some is chemical imbalance. But I think that is more unusual. Were you always like this, or did it start recently? If it's recent, what changed?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 4:02PM
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Is there any chance you could have sleep apnea?

I know someone who had severe anxiety for about a year and then found out he had fairly severe sleep apnea. I guess the lack of sound sleep caused psychological symptoms.

You have to get an overnight sleep test to spot it. Your family doctor could give you more information.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 1:18AM
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Hi, another possibility: Get your thyroid checked. A lot symptoms are similar to anxiety.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 10:04PM
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I'm a real fan of aromatherapy for many health situations. Essential oils used properly can be very helpful. Do some research into lavender, geranium, bergamot, and clary sage essential oils. There are many others but those are the first that come to mind.

If you google 'essential oils for anxiety' you will find many recipes for blends. Try to get the best quality oils available and use them in small amounts only.

A diet high in vitamins especially the B's, and low in sugar, caffeine, and empty calories and a healthy lifestyle with sufficient exercise and sleep is crucial for health.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 8:41PM
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It would'nt hurt to have your thyroid checked. One of my problems and i had similar symptoms.
Did you know more and more people are talking out symptoms online and coming up with correct solutions and correct diagnosis their doctors had never thought about. It was on CNN recently.
That does not mean you don't see a doctor but it does'nt hurt to be informed before you see him.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 3:42AM
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