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Coping with the Challenges of Life ... Naturally
   Every single one of us gets to experience this incredible world through our own spiritual eyes as we travel down our own spiritual journey. See, touch and play in this winter’s beautiful snow; look up and view a beautiful sky often full of pillowy WNY clouds; hike, bike or ski through the enchanted Allegheny Mountains; and observe animals - especially our own - experience life in the moment. We also get to experience life through loving relationships with others, and a search for the Divine. When you stop to really think about it … life is miraculous!
   Life is also challenging for all of us. As we “work through” these challenges, the results are meant to strengthen our character, develop our experiences, deepen our wisdom and increase our love for ourselves, for others and for God. All too easily and all too quickly our challenges can create downward spirals of depression, disappointment, bitterness, addictions, blame shifting, anger, self-pity and ANXIETY. These reactions often create patterns of self-destruction and loneliness. Anxiety is commonly experienced in 75% of the population.
   1 Corinthians 10:13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
   It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. - Hans Selye
   Our body has an incredible, innate ability to react to stress through the nervous, glandular, immune and gastrointestinal system. This natural reaction occurs with real or perceived dangers and is meant to help the body perform at optimal levels by secreting hormones and neurotransmitters, which prepare the body and mind for action. The problem in our modern world is that stressors don’t retreat and the body stays in this flight or fight response almost daily, creating chronic inflammation in the body. The two main systems to take the hit of stress are the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and the adrenal glandular system. Over time, chronic stress, poor diets, toxicity and sedentary lifestyles create imbalances in these two systems.
   Symptoms of anxiety include shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations, muscle tension, trembling, insomnia, irritability, chest pain, cold sweats, feeling faint, headaches and feelings of anxiety in the stomach, chest, neck or head. Chronic anxiety can lead to heart disease, mental and emotional illnesses, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, pain disorders and changes in the body’s biochemistry. These changes in our biochemistry can be tested via urine and saliva samples for the assessment of neurotransmitter imbalances and adrenal dysfunctions.
   Smile, breathe, and go slowly. - Thich Nhat Hanh
   The practice of changing our perceptions begins with five simple steps to every real or perceived stressor. These steps are in direct opposition to our response of hurrying because we have to fight or flee from the sabertooth tiger, holding our breath, thinking with our “monkey brains,” slouching in a defeated stance and tightening all of our facial muscles. None of these responses serve our final outcome. So … slow down or stop. Breathe at least three deep breaths. Remember that everything eventually works out. Straighten your back properly by pushing your sternum upward. And … smile. (Fake it!)
   Don’t try to steer the river. - Deepak Chopra
   Life changes courses almost daily. You are responsible for caring for yourself and your life. As we are learning how to not be controlled by all the worries of this world, here are ten naturopathic solutions for your mild to debilitating anxiety.
   Magnesium, B Vitamins and Multi-Vitamin & Multi-Minerals. Magnesium Complex combines citrate and malate to promote relaxation of muscles, calming of the nervous system, better sleep and increased bowel movement. Nutri-Calm combines B vitamins with Vitamin C and calming herbs such as valerian root, passionflower flowers and hops flowers for calming anxiety, panic attacks and irritability. B vitamins are often depleted with processed foods, stress and anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications. Most people with anxiety need to replenish vitamins and minerals.  For this I would suggest (once again!) my favorite MV/M … Love & Peas protein powder with a non-dairy milk, frozen berries and Ionic Minerals (76 trace minerals) once or twice per day.
   Anxiousless is our most effective quick-acting, non-drowsy anxiety supplements. Sceletium tortuosum, an herb from South African known for its calming and mood enhancing properties, combined with l-theanine, B-1, magnesium and zinc has the ability to calm anxiety within 30-45 minutes. L-theanine comes from green tea leaves and helps the body’s stress response, relieving both depression and anxiety. One capsule as needed for situational anxiety or one capsule twice per day for more severe, chronic anxiety. This is NON-sedative. It promotes sleep. And, it works for almost everyone! Personally, I can’t say enough about this product.
   Amino Acid Therapy. GABA has been called “The Anxiety Amino Acid” as it is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter on the nervous system. Anxiety, panic, fear, phobias, grief, anger, pain and trauma all deplete GABA. Low GABA levels decrease serotonin levels that then increase anger and feelings of loss of control. Loss of control causes anxiety and fear which triggers panic or excessive fight or flight responses. Low GABA levels also increase epinephrine and norepinephrine release that decreases logical thinking and increases heart rate. Finally, Normal GABA levels will help to decrease the firing or excitatory neurons in the brains, thus calming brain activity. GABA Plus contains GABA, glutamine, passionflower, taurine and spirulina. Combine this with Magnesium Complex, Nutri-Calm and extra B-6 for anxiety, panic disorders, sleep and memory.
   Flower Essences. Dr. Bach from England discovered the healing properties of 38 flowers in the early 1900’s. The essences of these flowers were made from the dew of the petals from the early morning. Their healing effects are gentle but powerful! Come into Nature’s Remedy and fill out our Flower Essences questionnaire to see which combination of essences would be best for your. For anxiety, Distress Remedy or Be Courageous would be helpful. Distress Remedy provides a calming effect during stress, trauma or shock. It allows the person not to dissociate from the situation while also preventing panic attacks and loss of temper. Be Courageous helps someone to take action in the face of their fears, finding self-confidence to pursue goals.
   Traditional Chinese Medicine. These simple and powerful combinations of Chinese herbs balance deficiencies or excesses within the five elements, yin/yang or sagging/deficient chi. Often people with excess Fire or deficient Fire have symptoms of anxiety. Stress Relief is for a person with excess Fire experiencing anxiety, insomnia, absent-mindedness, extremes of emotion, nervousness, tension, dizziness, light-headedness, mania or heart palpitations. It will quench this fire and pacify the spirit, calming the nerves.
   Energetic Movements. Yoga, tai chi, qi gong, hiking, walking, running, dancing and meditation.
   Energetic Therapies. Homeopathy and CranioSacral Therapy are two therapies that I provide in my office. Please contact me for more information. Both are very effective at treating the underlying causes of anxiety.
   Water. Often anxiety is the result of dehydration. To see if this is the cause, drink ½ of your body weight in ounces for one week. Observe your results.  
   Essential Oils. Perfumes can cause anxiety and headaches. Switch to a calming essential oil and people will love to be near you and hug you! Lavender, Chamomile, Bergamot, Geranium. Grapefruit, Sweet Marjoram, Rose Bulgaria, Sage, Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang.
   Nervine Herbs. Black Cohosh. Blessed Thistle. Blue Vervain. Catnip. Fennel. Chamomile. Damiana. Feverfew. Geranium. Ginger. Ginkgo. Ginseng. Hops. Passion Flower. St. John’s Wort. Yarrow. Please come into the store for a free 15-minute consultation.
   Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7
   After an initial homeopathic consultation, many people (especially men), express that they feel 50% better just from talking and letting out all that they are holding in. Over and over again this proves that holding onto past hurts, current stressors, secrets and our many fears produce a lot of unresolved anxiety. This is enslaving and causes most of the illnesses in our bodies. If you are someone who holds things inside, please find an outlet. Find someone who cares, who listens and who will offer kind words or helpful advice. A therapist. A friend. An alternative practitioner. A journal. Prayers to God. Trustworthy spiritual people. Group support like AA. Cast all of it outside of your body. This is freedom! 
   Please call Kristina C. Barlow, N.D. for more information or to make an appointment. She can be reached directly at 716-353-0786 or by email at drbarlow@naturopathicpartners.com. You are also encouraged to stop by Nature’s Remedy, located at 26 Monroe Street in Ellicottville.  Find Nature’s Remedy on the web at natures-remedy.net or call 716-699-4372.