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Dealing with anxious patients

Tips to alleviate suffering when dealing with anxious patients -- if your patients are coming to you for primarily physical complaints, it would be no...

Tips to alleviate suffering when dealing with anxious patients

IT IS NOT UNUSUAL TO ENCOUNTER PATIENTS WITH ANXIETY IN ANY PRACTICE. Anxiety presents frequently alongside other physical and physiological conditions like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, and is certainly common enough in its own right.

According to statistics from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 40 million adults in the United States suffer from some form of clinically-diagnosed anxiety, including Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So if your patients are coming to you for primarily physical complaints, it would be no surprise if anxiety were part of the picture as well.

Nutrient help

Great results have been documented when patients boost their B vitamin and magnesium intake to bolster better neuron transmission and energy levels — a must when dealing with the exhausting effects of anxiety. In addition, passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) extract, theanine (the calming amino acid found in green tea), and Rhodiola rosea all help patients adapt more easily to stressors and manage their own reactions more skillfully.

Also effective for dealing with anxious patients is another botanical medicine, specialized extract of Echinacea angustifolia. While many echinacea species are well-known for bolstering the immune system, this specific extract from a specially-cultivated plant calms nerves and relieves anxiety.

Hemp-like Echinacea angustifolia

The path to discovery for Echinacea angustifolia was an interesting one. It came about when researchers at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were analyzing different species of echinacea and found that some of the plants contained compounds known to influence brain chemistry, including cannabinoid receptors.

With the popularity of hemp and CBD, we’re hearing much more about cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system these days. In this case, though, the Echinacea angustifolia the researchers tested showed the most effective levels of alkamides — natural compounds with effects on the endocannabinoid system similar to phytocannabinoids from hemp. Clinical research has found that it is fast-acting, too. A study published in Phytotherapy Research including women and men with anxiety (average age of 41 years) were assessed using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

Participants were scheduled to use this specialized echinacea extract for one week and evaluate their anxiety before, during and after using the product. But in just three days anxiety levels were significantly lower in both state and trait categories. Plus, the effects remained stable for the duration of the trial and even for two weeks following treatment — all without side effects.

Few to no side effects

One of the most important benefits of this unique echinacea extract, which is not seen with other forms, is that it provides individuals with a sharp contrast to conventional medications in terms of safety and side effects. It is an effective herbal option to relieve nervousness, tension and restless nights for anyone dealing with anxiety — whether from occasional stressful situations or long-term daily struggles.

Conventional prescriptions to treat anxiety are almost as well-known for their side effects as for their degree of relief. For example, chlordiazepoxide (Librium) can cause drowsiness and lethargy, nausea, constipation, menstrual abnormalities, jaundice, altered libido, involuntary movements, and risk of dependence or addiction. And that’s just one of the choices any of your patients may be considering.

In the realm of pain relief, I think we all know how destructive the addiction to prescription drugs can be — and it’s no less the case, and possibly even more so, for people who suffer from anxiety. So botanical solutions that actually work have been a goal for scientific researchers, practitioners and individuals alike for quite some time. That’s why these developments are so exciting and offer new avenues for dealing with anxious patients.

As practitioners, we can guide patients to a better path of relief. Even simple changes, like the addition of supplemental nutrients and safe, effective botanicals, can make a truly life-enhancing difference. 

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board certified internist and a member of the scientific advisory board of EuroMedica. He is the lead author of four groundbreaking research studies on treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia using an integrated approach, the SHINE Protocol. He is also the author of The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution (Avery/Penguin), and the Cures A-Z phone app.

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