Call (503)408-0790

To schedule an appointment

Lee Dennis, ND

Naturopathic Physician

Call (503)408-0790

To schedule an appointment


Namaste Natural Healing Center
12616 SE Stark St
Portland, OR 97233


How would you describe or define anxiety? The Merck Manual describes it as “a distressing, unpleasant emotional state of nervousness and uneasiness.” We can probably all related to feeling nervous or uneasy at times. This is common and can actually be a good thing as it can be a warning to us from our body that we are in a dangerous situation. The problem arises, however, when this feeling of nervousness is no longer serving us in a positive way, but is instead holding us back in life.

Along with the feeling of anxiety, which is sometimes difficult to describe, there are often physical symptoms as well. These may include a rapid heart rate or pounding heartbeat in the chest, palpitations, increased rate of breathing, sweaty palms, difficulty concentrating, loose stools and dizziness. During acute panic attacks, one may experience shortness of breath and chest pain feeling like they are having a heart attack. Sometimes anxiety is related to a specific phobia, such as stage fright or fear of heights, but other times the anxiety is more generalized and not related to a specific phobia.

In general, the symptoms of anxiety are associated with activation of the sympathetic nervous system which is related to the fight-or-flight response. This mechanism is designed to protect us from danger by preparing our body to either fight off the danger or flee from it. However, this same mechanism is often activated by psychological stressors that aren’t necessarily putting our lives in danger. In these cases, the fight-or-flight response becomes less of an adaptive mechanism that protects us from danger and more of a hindrance. While short-term anxiety in response to a specific and temporary situation is normal and generally not a problem, long-term anxiety may be. When chronic, anxiety can be debilitating and highly disruptive to one’s life making it difficult to follow a daily routine and be successful in one’s endeavors.

The typical treatment for anxiety generally involves the use of anti-anxiety medications and psychotherapy. This approach is not dissimilar from that used in depression as the two are often related. In naturopathic medicine, a holistic view of patients experiencing anxiety allows us to recognize the importance of other factors, such as diet and lifestyle contributions.

Herbal medicine offers a whole host of options for managing anxiety. Just a few of these useful herbs include lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, motherwort, kava, and hops. These herbs tend to have a calming and relaxing influence on the body.

Homeopathy can be a great tool for those experiencing anxiety, even, and especially, when there is a specific phobia involved. Homeopathy can help to bring the body back to a state of balance and thereby lessen the experience of anxiety. Many constitutional types in homeopathy can experience anxiety, but some of the more common ones include Argentum Nitricum, Arsenicum, Calcarea Carbonica, Lycopodium, Phosporus and Sulphur.

Diet and nutrition can play a big part in the treatment of anxiety. Many vitamin deficiencies are common in those with anxiety including B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium. Amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) can play an important role by helping to balance neurotransmitters which means they work in a similar manner to anti-anxiety medications. Other diet related factors that may contribute to anxiety include caffeine intake, low blood sugar and food allergies.

Stress management techniques can be useful in nearly all cases of anxiety. This is because these techniques can help to restore balance to an anxious nervous system. The techniques involved in stress management can be wide and varied, but often include things like breath work, meditation, or qigong.

Exercise is extremely important both for anxiety and for managing stress. Exercise in itself, can help to balance an overactive, and sympathetically dominant (fight-or-flight), nervous system. In addition to helping with anxiety and stress, exercise benefits the body as a whole, from the cardiovascular system to the musculoskeletal system and even the digestive system.

As you can see, it’s important to address anxiety from a holistic standpoint as many factors can play a part in the development and management of the disorder. Dr. Dennis works with each individual to find a treatment plan that is right for them by looking at diet, lifestyle and patient preferences for treatment. There is no reason to suffer with anxiety when naturopathic medicine offers so many tools to help!

Learn more about techniques you can use to decrease your anxiety.

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