Managing Anxiety Without Drugs - 3 Simple Ways | Chris Kresser
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3 Ways to Manage Anxiety Without Drugs

by Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD

Last updated on

“That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.” – Chinese Proverb

Confession time: If I had to choose one personal health issue that I’d love to wipe out with a simple wave of my hand, I’d choose anxiety.

Everybody has some type of health concern that they deal with on a daily basis; it’s rare to find someone who feels completely, 100% healthy and free of any ailment. While many healthcare practitioners (including nutritionists) may give off the impression that they have all the answers to perfect health, the truth is that many of us struggle with our own issues, and some of the best health experts in the world became that way because of their struggle with a serious illness. For me, I’ve been on a quest to figure out how to manage my anxiety without resorting to pharmaceutical treatment.

Struggling with anxiety? Check out these tips by @AncestralizeMe to help you stay calm!

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common forms of mental illness in the United States, affecting approximately 18% of the adult population, costing us more than $42 billion a year in healthcare services. (1) And that’s just the people who have actually been diagnosed – in our hectic, stressed-out, achievement-driven society, many people deal with stress on a regular basis, even if they’re not actively seeking treatment for their condition.

While I’ve been tempted in the past to run to a doctor for a quick-fix anxiolytic medication (especially when I was a graduate student), deep down I’ve always known that this could never be the answer I was searching for. I didn’t want to use a treatment that could be hard to stop, or that could even be dangerous to my health.

After searching for effective non-pharmaceutical treatments to help manage my anxiety, I’ve found a few specific methods that, for me, have made a big difference in my day-to-day experience of anxiety.

From my personal experience, here are the three best ways to manage your anxiety without resorting to drug treatment.

1. Un-Restrict Your Diet

This recommendation is for all of you 99% Paleo dieters out there who are worried that even the most minor of slip ups will completely derail any progress you’ve made in changing your diet for the better.

While certain people will benefit from a strict Paleo diet that completely eliminates foods like grains, legumes or dairy, from my experience, the majority of people out there do not need to be quite so restrictive in order to maintain overall good health.

First, think about the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating. While some people believe that a very low carb diet is healthy for everyone, my own personal experience (and the experience of others) has shown me that low carb is not always the best choice, especially for those of us who struggle with anxiety.

If you’re on a very low carbohydrate diet (<100 g per day) and feeling anxiety on a regular basis, you may benefit from an increase in carbohydrates. I recommend starting at 20-30% of calories, and seeing how you feel at that level. You may even feel better on a higher carbohydrate diet, perhaps around 40-50% of calories (or more!).

Don’t let the low-carb dogma dictate how you eat – if you feel like crap on a low carb diet, that’s a relevant feeling and you should be prepared to experiment with a higher carbohydrate diet. And while eating enough protein and fat can be helpful with anxiety, some evidence suggests that too much protein can induce anxiety, so try not to go above 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight if you’re prone to anxiety or panic attacks.

Finally, consider the overall restrictiveness of your diet. Are you on a self-imposed autoimmune protocol despite having no autoimmune diagnosis or symptoms? Do you completely avoid all dairy even though you’ve never had a problem with it in the past? Do you avoid generally benign foods like white rice, properly prepared legumes, or natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup simply because they’re “not Paleo” or some armchair nutritionist on Paleohacks said that cavemen didn’t eat rice? In this case, consider the possibility that your overly restrictive diet may be doing more harm than good.

2. Try Quality Supplements

(Please check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements. These recommendations are intended as general advice only and should not replace medical advice from your primary care physician or other provider.) 

If you feel like you’ve already experimented with your diet to no avail, there are some excellent supplements that may be beneficial, including herbs and nutritive formulas. While there are hundreds of combinations that may be beneficial, there are a few more well-studied types that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Some of the herbs that are generally understood to help with anxiety are: California poppy, hops, verbena, chamomile, lemon balm, valerian, rhodiola, lavender, and passionflower. (2a, 2, 3, 4) These herbs are available as supplements, tinctures, and even tea blends for those looking to use evidence-based natural strategies for anxiety management.

Many supplements contain a mixture of these herbs, which can be helpful for those looking for a reduction in anxiety without the side effects that often come with pharmaceutical treatment. Personally, I like to use Integrative Therapeutics’ Lavela during the day and the Revitalizing Sleep Formula before bed; I find they help take the edge off and allow for a more restful sleep on days where anxiety is starting to get the best of me.

There are some nutritional supplements that are helpful as well. L-Theanine, an amino acid largely found in tea, has been shown to be effective for its anxiolytic effects, including increased alpha brain wave activity and inhibiting cortical neuron excitation. (5) While you can get L-theanine from drinking tea, it’s far more potent in supplemental form, and if you’re dealing with regular anxiety, you may find that it helps keep you calm and focused during the day without causing drowsiness.

Magnesium is also important to supplement with, as most of us are unable to get adequate amounts of it in our daily diets to replace the losses caused by modern day stressors. And research has shown that magnesium deficiency can lead to anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation. (6)

If you prefer not to take magnesium supplements orally, you can also increase your magnesium levels by taking epsom salt baths or using a topical magnesium oil. Whatever your method, I strongly recommend finding a way to boost your magnesium levels if you’re struggling with chronic anxiety.

3. Cut down on Caffeine

I know, I know… cutting out caffeine sounds like a death sentence for many of us who either need the caffeine to get going in the morning, or just love the taste of a nice hot coffee as part of our morning ritual. I’ve tried to quit caffeine before, but haven’t been too successful, as I’m back in the habit of drinking a few cups of coffee every day.

The good news is that cutting down on caffeine doesn’t require total elimination of all caffeinated beverages. In fact, going cold turkey on caffeine can actually lead to an increase in mental distress and symptomatic anxiety. (7) Caffeine withdrawal is a legitimate condition, and one that I’ve experienced in the past when I went from excessively drinking multiple espressos daily (I was working as a barista while traveling in Australia) to a complete cessation of caffeine consumption. I felt awful, and it wasn’t just the emotional attachment to my coffee that was causing the problems; there are actual documented symptoms that come from a sudden removal of caffeine. (8)

So instead of going cold turkey on your morning cup of joe, try reducing the overall caffeine you consume on a regular basis by half. Maybe that means going from 6 cups of coffee per day to 3, or perhaps you switch out one or two cups of regular for decaf coffee or green tea instead. Caffeine is a well-established anxiogenic (i.e. anxiety producing) stimulant, and if you’re dealing with chronic anxiety, it’s worth at least moderating your caffeine intake and trying to reduce it over time. (9) You may find that you need less caffeine than you think to get going on a daily basis, and you may end up with more energy and less anxiety or feelings of panic if you don’t overload your nervous system with this potent stimulant.

As an aside (and this relates to step 1 above), one common practice that many Paleo gurus promote is the use of “Bulletproof Coffee” as an effective weight loss and intermittent fasting protocol.

While there are many people who experience great benefits from this method, I would caution anyone who deals with significant anxiety to reconsider their use of Bulletproof Coffee as a daily practice. The combination of caffeine, daily fasting, and carbohydrate avoidance is liable to exacerbate feelings of anxiety for those who are susceptible, especially women. (10)

If you do choose to continue with Bulletproof Coffee, try eating a real breakfast at least a few days a week, and use L-theanine to combat the anxiety-provoking effects of caffeine. (11) Like a low-carb approach, if Bulletproof Coffee makes you feel terrible, stop drinking it! (Don’t be a lemming!)

Time to Take Action!

Now that you’ve read my top three tips for managing your anxiety, I’d like to hear from you. Have you implemented any of these recommendations? Do you have any other ideas that would be helpful to other readers?

I’ll be covering more natural ways to manage anxiety in part two of this article series, but for now, I’d like you all to focus on these three and report back to me once you’ve given them a try!


Join the conversation

  1. Hi All,
    A few weeks ago I attended the “Healthy Mind Symposium” put on by doTERRA Essential Oils. There was a myriad of Dr.’s presenting all kinds of cases including anxiety and depression. The Dr.’s went into detail on how the use of specific doTERRA essential oils protocols offered relief of the symptoms. I have family members and friends that are looking for more natural treatments for anxiety and depression. Like this article mentioned, nutrition is a big component of getting on the right track. The essential oils can be used with good nutrition and excersize to relieve anxiety symptoms. Please contact me if you would like to learn more. Here is a list of the oils Cherie Burton recommended essential oil protocol for anxiety:
    • Breathe essential oil blend
    • Serenity essential oil blend
    • Balance essential oil blend
    • And using the doTERRA lifelong vitality pack essential oils, vitamin and mineral supplements. This is the only doTERRA product that has a 100% money back guarantee.

    Best, Jan Spencer

  2. Leaky gut is a source of anxiety and depression for me. I got better going gf for celiac dx in 2006, got better again going dairy free later, but never seemed to close my leaky gut (lactulose-mannitol tested twice, Cyrex tested twice): I had LPS … turned out 7 years into trying to figure out my gut health that I have/had been living with gastritis and h pylori (I have celiac, Hashimoto’s, fibro or possible candida, and am histamine intolerant). Please tell me how to fertilize/help my gut terrain to prevent recurrence (alkaline, acid, probiotics? which ones? starch, no starch, fats or low-fat? high or low carb? (Dr. Amy Yasko suggests higher carb, low-fat, btw). Eight months prior to endoscopy my Genova NutrEval suggested low B vitamins and that I wasn’t using what little I had. ND didn’t pick up on that, and high urea/taurine. I have completed the 7 day “triple therapy” antibiotics/PPI and am about 3 months into “recovery” I hope. I share this because before diagnosis I was coming out of my skin with anxiety and it has curtailed a lot.

    • Hi dotslady,
      Isn’t your ND giving you nutrition advice?
      You say “Dr. Amy Yasko suggests higher carb, low-fat, btw”
      Given what you shared about Ur condition I’d lean toward the opposite: high fat moderate protein and low carb (at least less than say 80g a day total carbs with no or little sugar/honey – less than 15g = 1TBSP)
      NOW, I am a nutrition counselor, not a doctor.
      “Candida” or rather yeast overgrowth is best assessed with a URINE OAT By Great plains lab. It will clearly show if you have yeast (and bacterial) infections based on amounts of metabolites excreted. It won’t identify the yeast but so what?
      Used for autistic disorders GPL OAT is VERY reliable and covered by medicare.
      You may have to use faily large amounts of probiotics like primal defense (The only one that worked for me) to keep yeast at bay (low carb will help) but leaky gut + auto immune are BIG obstacles and you get opportunistic infections .
      Soil Based Micro-organisms from Swanson is a MUCH CHEAPER alternative to primal defense and you may need 9/d for a while (start with 3 (3days) then 6 then 9 after 6 days.
      Fungall(TM) is an essential oil combination that will KILL yeast which may be needed since it may be outside of your GI tract. After Fungall high dose of probiotics will keep U yeast free even with carbs. you should e-mail me for a source of Fungall.([email protected])
      H pilori is probaly gone if you had antibiotherapy but is a sign of low HCl (have you tried to take HCl – wait 1 mo until mucosa heals – or alternatively a combination of HERBAL Bitters before ,meals?).
      Have you eliminated all the foods identified by Cyrex as positive?

      • Chris D,
        Wow, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I don’t see the ND regularly (because it’s out-of-pocket); the last visit being the review of the NutrEval $$ (it was recommended I take B vitamins which I was already doing). Re: my diet, I have been eating 50-60% fat (omega oils, avocado, chia, sometimes flax, whatever’s in meat); and carbs have fluctuated as I’ve tried different things. I felt best when I didn’t eat much at all (or I ate carbs: during a stressful time I ate Starburst and watermelon a lot (with salmon, egg yolks, potato, veg, and other meat and I felt wonderful enough to jog 6 miles in a day which I’d never done before in my obese life – no pain – which I believe was due to not eating much. HOWEVER, I did get a vag. yeast infection that summer which I don’t have a history of). With HP you can eat a full meal and still be hungry (was true for me and I thought it was ME being overweight and maybe a blood sugar issue — it was NOT as i tested). I’m guessing I have candida or SIBO or ? because of last Genova Comp. Stool Analysis (I had the #2100, not the updated #2200 and my HP tested negative 2 mos. prior to endoscopy, fwiw). My yeast came back a 1 this time whereas in the past it has been negative.

        I have not asked for an OAT but I have read a lot about it, thank you for the suggestion I will put it on my list of things to do.

        I do not eat tested my Cyrex food allergens (barley showed up which was concerning since I’m fastidious about g-freeness). Barley also showed up on one of my Genova stool tests. I found it in the Primal Defense probiotic I’d been taking off and on for a whole bottle during a year between other strains (it has barley grass – I talked with Jordan Rubin when he was in town selling a book; he said they test to the legal 20ppm gluten, which is just too much for this celiac apparently. I share as a warning to others.)

        I have read about SBOs also – thanks for mentioning as I need to research them more. I have another health counselor who suggests that a person might be better served knowing which strains are needed. Case in point would be when I took Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora 80 billion cfu (bifido and lacto strains) I broke out with itchy spots on my hands and got anxiety: my last Genova results indicated I had too high bifido, and need way more lacto strains. I went to another ND (the earlier mentioned ND was also an MD) who had me taking Candisol; I just finished the bottle.

        I think they only way to know if HP is gone is to get rescoped. From what I’ve read, you can GET HP “from” the scope! argh! I would like to follow the triple therapy abx with herbals I’ve read about such as manuka honey and matula tea as well. I’d say I’ve had a stressful past 7 yrs, but I could say that about my life – OR – that I’ve just not handled it well due to having undx celiac and HP! I’m in the middle of a contentious move out of state and hopefully will have the opportunity to start fresh in a few weeks. I’m befuddled right now. 😛

        Oh, at the time of HP dx in December I was up to taking 5 HCL caps w/heavier meals. Dr. Yasko says HP likes too little or too much acid, so I have (under counsel) lowered my dose to 2 HCL caps w/heavier meals. I tried bitters but (histamine) reacted, plus the one I tried tasted awful!

        The Fungall intrigues me (when I search online it’s an animal fungal topical?), as does your statement about using it with probiotics then being able to eat carbs. I hope to email you after I get settled in my new temp digs. Thank you again for your time and thoughts. You are appreciated.

  3. I enjoy your tip about avoiding a too-restrictive diet in particular. However, I think it’s important to also stress that if you NEED medication, you should feel okay about taking it.

    I didn’t like having to take medication at first. I thought I should be able to manage with just cognitive behavioral therapy (medication itself wasn’t what got me all the way to feeling healthy – CBT was a major component, too). I didn’t want to use it during either of my pregnancies. I thought that if I worked hard enough, I would be “better” and not need it anymore.

    Eventually I had to admit that it kept recurring and the my quality of life is at a much higher level when I go ahead and take some meds. It’s a pretty low dose of an SSRI. It took a long time to come to terms with it – but for some of us, it’s necessary.

  4. One very interesting aspect of anxiety is many people have no idea they are suffering from it. There inability to perform everyday tasks without extreme nervousness is written off as simply “I’m not good at that, or I don’t have the guts to it”.

    A whole foods diet has made remarkable reductions in my anxiety levels witnessed by activities I simply couldn’t do before or previously forced myself to do in spite of sweating palms and a churning and purging digestive system.

    I’ve also seen further reductions in anxiety while on the GAPS Diet.

    If you suffer from anxiety, don’t give up! The world looks and feels like a whole new place when you’re able to reduce your anxiety levels.

  5. Thank you so much for this post. Living in South Africa on a farm with farm murders every day is not a walk in the park. I took some advice from a young man. He suggested a Cup of warm water, a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon in the morning. Well do I say more….This is magic for my anxiety….. 🙂

  6. This was a great post, thanks for sharing all this information! For my anxiety I found reducing my caffeine consumption to be the most important. If I have low levels of stress in my life I can handle a daily cup, but this is rarely the case. Instead I have occasional decaf espressos and sometimes when I feel I am in a good place mentally (relaxing on a Holiday) I can handle the real deal. The caffeine in tea doesn’t seem to effect me much so I still get my daily dose from green or black tea. Skipping breakfast is also terrible for me for anxiety. I am okay to delay it an hour or so for an early morning yoga practice but that is as much as I can do. The key for me is being aware of my internal stress and controlling the controllables. I do what I can do to put my body in the best state to handle the external stressors.

  7. I suffered from generalized anxiety, panic attacks etc for most of my 60 years and it wasn’t until I came across what was for me, the ideal solution that I realized why I was such a victim of it. Without wishing to blatantly ‘plug’ this, I really owe a debt of gratitude to the British anxiety specialist Charles Linden and his method:

    In a nutshell, what I learned from Charles was:

    Keep busy! I noticed that my worst periods of anxiety occurred not at my job, which is moderately stressful, but actually at weekends when I had time on my hands. Soon as I found myself just sitting around watching TV or doing nothing in particular, anxiety would manifest in some form or another – worry, depression, fear, hypochondria etc. Yet while insanely busy at work, I would literally forget to be anxious.

    Stop internalizing yourself! The very fact that you are reading this, is a symptom and also in some way an enabler of your anxiety. Don’t stop reading yet though, lol. I became an obsessive Googler of medical symptoms – a ‘cyberchondriac’ is the popular term. By doing hours of research on anxiety and other health issues I cemented the belief in my brain that I have a ‘problem’ that needs to be ‘cured’.

    Reset your amygdala! The little almond sized gland in your brain that controls the release of stress hormones and stuff, when subjected to repeated stress triggers gets stuck at a higher baseline level, so any subsequent worry puts it into overdrive. Layman’s explanation – Charles Linden explains it better. But with the right kind of effort and perseverance you can dial that puppy back to a more comfortable level.

    Fight or Flight…..or… Acceptance. We all know the first two components of a panic attack, but for me what really works is the objective alternative – acceptance. When I feel the warning signs of panic start to bubble up – palpitations, short of breathe, disorientation etc, instead of doing what I always used to, ie fear the impending attack, I just shrug my shoulders and say OK, bring it on. Don’t fight it, you can’t run from it, so just relax and let it happen. After a bit of practice, they usually just fade away like a false alarm. Acceptance is very powerful and is not a sign of weakness or resignation, but an effective tool which disarms the amygdala, or whatever mechanism is in play.

    Don’t micromanage your diet! Completely agree with Laura’s second suggestion. My anxiety reached an all time high during the 3 months or so that I was fooling around with my carb & sugar intake on the advice of a mainstream nutritionist who said my HgA1C was borderline prediabetic. As a result I began to cycle alarmingly between hyper- and hypo-glycemic and the panic attacks came thick and fast. I t wasn’t until I stopped listening to doctors and started listening to my body that I finally got it under control. It always amuses me that human beings are the only animals that don’t know what they’re supposed to eat!

    • Thanx for link Baz. I know exactly what your are saying. To pin the whole thing on diet is like saying that Catholic guilt is caused by the carbs in the Eucharist and not seeing that it is a learned response.

  8. I’ll be the contrary one here. I have suffered from anxiety and depression my whole life, but I didn’t realize it because I thought it was ‘normal’. I also do have several AI diseases and leaky gut, the whole shebang. I crashed and burned about 2 years ago. Since then I have been on zoloft, and it has helped me tremendously. Not only has it helped with my anxiety and depression, it has helped me sleep and my myriad of digestive issues. From reading Chris, I know how important serotonin (and melatonin) are for digestion as well as sleep and mood. I truly think that I had a severe imbalance of both serotonin and melatonin. I do also follow a Paleo diet, but I get enough carbs. I take Magnesium Glycinate (thanks Chris!) and epsom baths. I just want to say that sometimes prescription drugs do work and can help.

  9. i thought going Paleo would help my anxiety, but it didn’t – it turned my skin health around (in a huge way), and I follow a strict autoimmune approach,

    but . for my anxiety…… (think “paleo treats” and I think you might have a clue as to why)

    that is until I reduced my intake of my problem foods such as chocolate, insoluble fibres and “gluten free” recipes – riddled with fructose and omega 6

    once I started figuring out the nutrition side of reducing anxiety, I wanted to positively effect my nervous system to see if that would help….

    I practiced (and still practice) a strategy that, thus far, has been my absolute go-to technique for anxiety – as soon as I get a worry-some thought pop in to my head that won’t go away, I go and take a walk and about every 50m or so, I pause to take 10 deep breathing squats with a FULL inhalation and full exhalation (4s in and 4s out)

    after 10 minutes or so of this walking, breathing thing , the anxiety has simmered down and Im back to feeling me again

    Anxiety is such a bummer when it hits – it can totally absorb your entire mind/body/soul axis and take away the joy in from life BUT, the key, I believe is like Chris suggests and thats to NEVER stop experimenting with natural ways you can help it (there will always be a solution , it just depends on how hard you’re willing to look)

    (supplements I’ve found beneficial for my anxiety are magnesium citrate, glutamine and Holy Basil (or Tulsi Tea – WAAAAAYYYY cheaper if you buy it as Tulsi)


  10. Did anybody mention the L-glutamate salts (E621 – E625) used as a flavour enhancer as a major cause. Paleos eat usually from the stalk, but it is easy to come in contact with a glutamate flavour enhancer through many additives in various ways.

    Are all Paleos really that strict with themselves on all levels of their diet? Still eating bread/pastry made with instant yeast? I believe (experience) the yeast to be GM and responsible for free glutamate.

    Start cleaning out your cupboard, friends cupboards, restaurant cupboards of additives and if you are still anxious, then try all other mentioned avenues in this article and comments.

    And yes, many still believe that the manufactured salt is the same as the glutamate naturally found in food . . . but it is not.

    It worked for me.

  11. Another great supplement for anxiety is Inositol, otherwise known as vitamin B8. It takes a large dose of 8-10 grams a day to help with anxiety. Its best to take once a day. If you cant, then break it up into divided doses (half in AM and the other half in PM). L-Theanine is excellent too, but works best when take 400mg twice a day. L-Theanine is also great if you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, or have had a late night coffe and cant get to sleep. L-Theanine (400mg) displaces caffeine off its receptors allowing your mind and body to calm down. Good luck !

    • excellent advice. I’d add Calm forte and Vervain tea (a little hard to find here common in France (vervaine).
      Dr Laskos is it true you recommended high carb for someone like dotslady (see a cple comments below) who has “candida infections?
      She says Dr. Amy Yasko suggests higher carb, low-fat, btw.
      e-mail me if you wish [email protected]

      • Chris D, I should have stated more clearly that Dr. Yasko recommends actually alternating diet to trick h pylori out of hiding to then attack with treatment of choice. It seems HP likes fat and salt (and as I’d been eating higher fat maybe this isn’t helping me). I ALSO have dysbiosis/candida/SIBO (still guessing) so while on one hand I feel better with carb, should be lower carb for that. I believe addressing the HP is a priority, then the dysbiosis as I don’t think I can do it all at once. I really appreciate the convo/thread. Thanks.

  12. Eva,

    Are you a dietician? I’m wondering if stress and iodine deficiency can cause a slow thyroid function? Is there a test for iodine deficiency?

    • Lynn,
      Yes and yes and yes; see a doctor who will order free T3 and T4 as well as total T3 T4 n in addition to TSH

    • Hi Lynn, I’m not a dietitian. I work as a Multidimensional CranioSacral Therapist.

      I work with my hands, heart and whole energy field. The body shows me (as in seeing the inside of the body in a movie and getting lots of explanations at the same time) what is not working and often a whole big mosaic of threads in many directions of connected issues, follow-on issues, underlying causes and a multitude of other things that are not working well as a result.

      The body will often show me what it needs to come better into balance, such as iodine, or magnesium, Vit Bs, zinc, etc or whatever it may be. Usually its a number of things which needs to be changed or supported. And it virtually always comes down to unresolved emotional events or periods of life combined with previous physical trauma, nutritional deficiencies and current life situation (job, family, stagnation, unacted upon yearning for self development). The nutritional deficiencies often have underlying causes of blockers, natural and unnatural things that block the receptor cites of many of the vital vitamins and minerals we need to keep all our bodies (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) well, in balance and connected to each other.

      From what I have gleaned and understood, chronic iodine deficiency would be coming from somehwere, just like chronic magnesium, or zinc deficiency. Not necessarily that you don’t put it in through your food, but that your body is not able to take it up, either from leaky gut syndrom or from blocked receptor sites.

      The biggest blockers of many types of vitamins and minerals I have encountered is fluoride. But I may find more big blockers in the next few weeks or months. In this kind of work, every session is a lecture by the bodies themself. I have extensive training, but nothing beats the wisdom and understanding of the body itself. It knows what it working and not working, what it needs and isn’t getting and in which order to address things. If you can only listen.

      In my understanding, like I wrote in my previous post, if the adrenals are in overdrive, they use up all the available iodine first, leaving the thyroid gland without. And it can’t handle that very long before it gets into difficulty.

      Having said that, Lynn, there are a few other things I often notice when it comes to thyroid issues. The fascia around the area of the thyroid is very connected in all directions and very involved with the neck. Thyroid issues can come from tension in these fascias as well, causing the thyroid to get subtly distorted and “strangled”. A good CranioSacral Therapist can help you with releasing these tension streaks, which can relieve the thyroid a lot. Thyroid issues may also come from issues with higher authorities, ie those higher up in the hormone chain, such as the puituitary gland and the hypothalamus.A good CranioSacral Therapist can help with those areas as well.

      Looking at it from the other end, a thyroid in distress will also be able to cause some of the fascia distortions, just like adrenals, kidneys, livers or other organs in distress also cause distortions and tension streaks in the fascia. With the right contact the organs can get a lot of relief fast. But the underlying deficiencies causing the distress have to be addressed in order to not have the organs go back into distress.

      Sorry, long story. Hope you got some more insight form this. Happy to help with more explanations if you need it.

  13. I take Calming Support GABA Ease and Nutrigold Ashwagandha during the day and Integrative Therapeutics SEDAPLEX, Source Naturals NutraSpray Melatonin, and Gaia Kava Kava Root at bedtime. Yeah, it’s a lot of stuff, but I have a really hard time sleeping through the night. I’m using these things as tools to help ween myself off of Valium prescribed for tachycardia. Also, for some reason if I drink a quarter cup of organic creamer, I seem to sleep a lot better. I only do that occasionally, since my naturopath is on me to cut out the dairy and go strictly Paleo for my Hashimotos.

  14. I have had issues with anxiety my whole life due to external and internal problems on every level. In the last year many of these issues have finally been settled by a variety of techniques, including diet, supplements and “energy” work.

    I am mostly “paleo,” about 70-30. I do eat more carbs because these do seem to help ease my anxiety. I aim for good ones, though, like sweet potatoes, all the regular potatoes, quinoa and a little organic blue corn.

    Theanine has helped me a TON- but I had to take enough of it to make a real difference. I take Theanine Serene which has theanine, Relora and some other stuff in it about three times a day. My last dose, at night, I couple with 5-HTP which really helps me sleep. I love Melatonin for sleep but it ends up provoking really distressing dreams (as did Valerian) so I’ve mostly given that up except for the occasional sleep issues.

    But the things that have helped me the most are Emotional Freeing Technique, Tapas Acupressure Technique, EMDR and Reiki plus two gifted therapists (one on each coast- I travel a lot) who really got me on a much more even keel than ever before. I highly recommend all four of these therapies for everything that ails you. I have links if anyone’s interested.

    Finally, thank you, Chris, for your great articles! I learn something from every one I get in my mailbox. Keep up the good work!

  15. Copper:zinc balance as mentioned above is so important and I think this problem is under diagnosed. Testing is simple: plasma zinc and serum copper and check the ratio between the two.

    I have done well to address this, along with dysbiosis (streptococcus created a minefield in my brain). Other things that have greatly helped are glycine at bedtime and gelatin during the day, diaphragmatic/belly breathing, the Panic Away program (a modernisation of Claire Weeke’s work that helps us to not fear anxious thoughts and sensations), regular exercise, laughter.

    Anxiety is very treatable, but there is often more than one factor involved.

    • Hey Allison,

      You said “…along with dysbiosis (streptococcus created a minefield in my brain).”

      How did you identify that it was streptococcus? What symptoms did you have? What steps did you take to get rid of the “minefield” in your brain?

  16. Iodine supplements can work wonders.

    Many have iodine deficiency without knowing it. I have a lot of experience with this from years of clinical practice (Multidimensional CranioSacral Therapy) where my clients’ body & energy field show this, and from my own experience.

    When you are in distress (which anxiety most certainly is to all of your bodies (physical, emotional, mental) the adrenals are in overdrive burning up iodine very fast. You can even feel it, it gives the feeling of “frazzled” and a tightness in the kidney/back of diaphragm area on either side of the spine. A lot of people don’t seem to have enough iodine in their diet even for non-anxiety states, so when stress is added it’s a disaster for every part of the body who needs iodine to do their job, like adrenals and thyroid gland, who start to waver and burn out causing other follow-on physiological issues, thyroid problems, hormonal problems, tired and brittle heart tissue, chronic fatigue, weak thought process, broken thought chain, scattered brain, heavy feeling, panic feeling about coordinating more than one task or sorting out one problem at a time. There is a whole cascade of down the line issues in many parts of the body and mind. It may show up even stronger for women, who in general are normally multitasking, and it is really stressful not to be able to do that without collapsing.

    The easiest and usually most (by the body) preferable way to address the iodine problem quickly is to take a solution with iodine and potassium in it. I think the bodies I work with prefer this way of getting the iodine-potassium over dry forms (ie seaweed etc) because it is easily taken up when it is in fluid form and also easy to dose exactly by drop, You can get the solution by ordering it from the pharmacy and transfering it to a dropper bottle, the one’s I’ve seen around (Australia) are Lugol’s Solution or Aqeous Solution, both containing 5% iodine and 10% potassium. The potassium part is really necessary for many but not all. Some bodies are temporarily primarily interested in the potassium, but the two seem to be needed together. The tired heart tissue and body tissue in general is what is after the potassium whereas the glands and brain seem to be after the iodine.

    It can be a drastic turn-around in anxiety level from one day to another by simply adding a few drops of iodine-potassium solution to a glass of water. A common starting dose for many of my clients, those who need iodine-potassium, is 4+2 (4 drops in the morning and 2 in the evening) or 2+4 or 4+6 etc. It has to be enough to make a difference fast, so that the adrenals can come out of the despair they are in, but not too many.

    Most people cannot communicate with their body and figure out what dose they need. You’ll need to learn how to feel inwardly which dose, as it may change daily (only minor changes), or ask someone who can communicate with your body (Multidimensional CranioSacral Therapist, Kinesiologist, other…) which dose to begin with and then regularly to discover if you should change the dose.

    A few people need an extreme amount for a period of time before their insides start to come down off the alarm state they are in, but most people’s body prefer below 10 drops a day for 3-4 weeks and can then lower by a few drops over a period of time as things start to breathe easier on the inside until it is down to maintenance dose.

    Maintenance dose of Aqeous/Lugol’s Solution for me and many clients (but not everyone) seems to be aorund 3 drops a day unless you up the intake (and possible uptake by the body) from another source, such as foods rich in these elements. It took me a year on between 6-12 drops per day before my body had replenished and repaired enough to come down to maintenance dose.

    A few times when I haven’t seen a client for a while, half a year or more, and they have been in big stress or other physiological trouble during that period, for instance by chronic infection, their bodies are so burned out and depleted in resources that their heart tissue is so brittle it’s on the brink of breaking – heart attack within a week from even the slightest provokation. This is very tangible when you know what brittle heart tissue feels like. The treatment (which we were already in the process of doing) and a dose of 6-8 drops of iodine-potassium a day has been enough to bring them back from that imminent risk of heart attack within 24, provided that they stay on the supplement until they have replenished their reserved and resolved the physiological and emotional situations which got them into that brittle state in the first place.

    A few of these clients had had a long period of uncomfortable heart flutter issues which they hadn’t told me about before the session, but which they had sought medical help for several times, without the doctors’ knowing what was causing it. That something as simple as a few drops of iodine-potassium can make such a difference the doctors would probably shrug off as very improbable and dismiss out of hand.

    I have also noticed that it is very common for those who are struggling to have enough iodine-potassium for all their body’s needs to also have an omega 6 deficiency and to need more magnesium and zinc than they are currently putting in or able to take up.

    To me, with everything I see and experience internally in the people and animals I treat, it is quite evident that these deficient situations are not isolated. They are usually deficient in more (sometimes many) vitally important vitamins and minerals and it is important to look at the whole picture of what the individual is deficient in AND WHY, in order to rectify the problem on a permanent basis and not simply puttin out the fires, or like in this case trying to resussitate the charred remains of the poor adrenals.

    Being deficient in certain or a number of vitamins and minerals means you are either not giving your body enough of those vitamins and minerals through your diet, or it points to a problem of substances and elements which you have taken in through food, air, water (such as pesticides, plastics particles, additives, unnatural and natural food chemicals, heavy metals, etc which block the body’s receptor sites for the uptake of those vitamins and minerals.

    I’m only scratching the surface of this topic in my practice, but so far some of the most common blockers i have discovered are fluoride and heavy metals. Chloramine, wheat, especially genetically modified wheat and other GMO foods play a big role as well, but in a more complicated way than only blocking.

    • Eva you are drinking the DANGEROUS Coolaid Dr BROWNSTEIN has been selling. I am glad it worked for you but taking 100s of times what the RDA is may not be healthy as many doctors have now told us. The debate on large iodine supplementation was covered in the Townsend letter (don’t have a ref here). Dr Gaby in particular wrote articles. The whole thing is NOT based on good science and some people get VERY ill.
      The urine test is itself very flawed and usually NOT repeated after a few days…
      I tried. It did not help my condition but amazingly it shut down my thyroid and my immune system…
      I believe 1mg/d (1 drop lugol/week) may be safe!!
      also you say “I have also noticed that it is very common for those who are struggling to have enough iodine-potassium for all their body’s needs to also have an omega 6 deficiency”
      WHO in the US has an omega6 deficiency? U probably meant omega3.
      Be weary also that iodine is a strong OXIDANT, just below chlorine thus it’s use to purify water (Iodine tablets).
      Brownstein ignores this completely even asking in his book “is iodine an anti-oxidant?”

      • I took 50mg of iodine for months and even doses as large as 100mg for weeks with no ill effects. Its a common thing to take 100’s of times the RDA of many nutrients. When you take a B-complex you get 8500% of the RDA of B1 for instance. 1000mg of vitamin C is 1666% of the RDA… I take 4 at a time when I’m sick!

        I have Hashimoto’s and although many articles say I shouldn’t be able to take iodine I was fine on high dose inorganic iodine. No spikes in TSH, no rise in thyroid antibodies, no kidney or liver problems according the the regular testing I took while I was taking iodine.

        You want to warn people? Warn them about Aleve and its dramatic increase in the risk of stroke!

        • Finndian, I am glad this works for you. I just wanted to warn people that Iodine supplementation can be dangerous. I got one benefit from it: my Thyroid antibodies went to almost zero (My doc said he had never seen this).
          Vit C and B are water soluble, they don’t accumulate in the body and they are NOT strong oxidants.
          Would you add 100mg of chlorine to your water?
          Note that adding an oxidant to your diet* can boost energy but in the long run it will reduce lifespan, oxidize your LDL and HDL (recent data on oxidized HDL in june 2013.
          Do read what Dr Gaby wrote in the Townsendletter (It should be avail online I can’t remember the issue).
          * people report benefits from taking sodium chlorite solution (NaClO2) but it it is also an oxidant – used as iodine to disinfect water so be aware and careful.
          btw: when people get a 50g Vit C infusion it is now known that a this concentration in the blood it acts as an oxidant, generating hydrogen peroxide.

  17. Hi,

    I think maybe anxiety is due to people with low whole blood histamine levels they are fast methylaters, so when they get too much B vitamins they get hyped up with overactive neurotransmitters.

    So be careful taking too much B vitamins as if you are an over methylater it takes a few months for the high B12 and B6 to get out of your system and then you could get panic attacks.

    I think also upper neck problems with atlas and axis also contributes, making you feel sort of dizzy or strange. Maybe inversion therapy can help with this?

  18. I am re-posting a comment i made under someone-else s’ above.
    I am VERY confused: you say “a very low carb diet is 100g of carbs/d?” That is about 200g of my bread daily, hardly a low carb diet.
    On protein, 1g/poud of body weight means 150g for SO weighing 150lbs.
    So, with 32g of protein per 4oz steak (Nutrition Now tables) that’s about 18-19oz of steak/day (1lb 3oz). I’d agree that it is a lot!

    Laura, Please correct the numbers you use if there is an error. Dod you mean 10-15g carb/d, not 100?

    In addition Lactobacillus Rhamnosus (R11) and helveticus (R52) is a specific strain which has been proven to reduce anxiety so make sure your current one has some and maybe add more. I am not sure if it has to be R11 and 12. I doubt it. IF you want that combination its in Lacidifil (Xymogen) maybe also sold as probiotic stick by Jameson in Canada

    • ‘Low carb’ generally just means lower than what most people eat: 300g+. It’s a relative term, so you can be low carb at 15g or low carb at 150g, and what you choose depends entirely on your individual tolerance.

    • <100 grams of carbs per day is pretty low carb. 1 banana has about 20-30 grams, and a medium sweet potato has about 25 grams of carbs. Depending on how many calories you eat, eating less than 100 grams of carbs in a day might end up being 20-25% of your calories (or less) which is fairly low. The government recommends 50-60% of calories from carbohydrate, as an example.

      As far as protein, almost all foods have some level of protein in them, so you don't have to strictly eat meat to get protein. A sweet potato has about 2 grams of protein. A cup of broccoli has 2.6 grams of protein. So you don't have to eat 18+ ounces of meat to get 150 grams of protein in a day.

      • Hi Laura, I hear you but we disagree. You said “very low carb” referring to 100g/d and on a blob that has alot of Paleo readers so it was misleading. Compared to the extreme unhealthy Govt recommendations indeed 100 is low BUT not even extremely LOW.
        Some people are on 1/2 slice of bread/d as a very low carb diet + carb from veggies and no fruit.
        Of course protein sources are many I was just using the steak example.

  19. Dear Laura,

    Thank you very much for this article. Your first tip particularly resonated with me, as my anxiety tends in the direction of orthorexia. I found myself in your examples of over-restriction, and your advice was very liberating.

    Thanks again,


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