by Dr. Randy
If you or someone you know suffers from any of these upsetting symptoms there is hope beyond antidepressants and sedative drugs. Holistic medicine has excellent safe and effective methods for getting the body and mind into balance to alleviate these symptoms. One effective treatment is to establish a healthy balance of neurotransmitters through nutritional supplements.
Often anxiety and insomnia are caused by excessive levels of stimulating neurotransmitters produced in response to stress. If high levels of stimulating neurotransmitters like epinephrine, norepinephrine or cortisol are not balanced by adequate levels of calming neurotransmitters like serotonin, then you may suffer from anxiety or experience difficulty sleeping. Targeted nutritional supplements, particularly appropriate amino acids, can help to bring these neurotransmitters into balance.
Depression is often related to a deficiency of the calming neurotransmitter serotonin and possibly deficiencies of stimulating neurotransmitters as well. The amino acid tryptophan and its direct serotonin precursor 5-hyroxytryptophan (5HTP) are converted by the body into serotonin. Taking 5HTP can increase serotonin levels resulting in a greater sense of well-being.
Taking antidepressants such as the SSRI drugs Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Prozac will prevent nerve cells from recycling serotonin making more serotonin temporarily available, but eventually serotonin will be depleted by these drugs and they become less effective over time. Increasing serotonin levels with 5HTP is a more sensible long term approach to symptoms of depression. In addition, antidepressants may have significant side effects such as suicidal and violent thoughts and behaviors.
GABA and insomnia
Insomnia may be caused by a lack of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA is the primary trigger that gets us to sleep. A supplement that contains taurine and 4-amino-3-phenybutric acid will support GABA production.
Diagnostic lab tests
It is helpful to evaluate neurotransmitter function with a simple urine lab test. This will diagnose specific neurotransmitter imbalances and determine the nutritional supplements that will correct it.
Relieving stress is also an important part of an effective holistic treatment plan for mood and sleep disorders. An exercise program can significantly reduce anxiety and depression and promote sleep. Calcium and magnesium taken before bed have a relaxing and calming effect as well. Lavender as an essential oil or infused in the air or taken as a supplement will also have a relaxing effect. Lavender taken internally (Lavela) has been shown in clinical studies to relieve anxiety. Avoiding alcohol can alleviate sleep disturbance. And, of course, relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep abdominal breathing practice can promote sleep and reduce stress responses and anxiety.
Many holistic practitioners and psychiatrists utilize neurotransmitter testing through laboratories like Neuroscience (www.neurorelief.com). Naturopathic doctors are often trained in using these methods.
If you need a practitioner in the San Francisco Bay Area or if you have difficulty finding a practitioner near you, I am available for consultations in my office or online through Skype or FaceTime visits.
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