I have watched most of day 1 of the Anti-anxiety Summit talking about the Gut/Brain Axis and wanted to share some highlights of it. It is a free summit hosted by Trudy Scott. There are experts on the free summit talking about anxiety and how to manage it. Some review for me is always good and I will share things that I think are helpful for my patients.
A review of amino acids for treating anxiety- for addressing low serotonin which you might have if you are a worrying type, if you ruminate and obsess about your past; if you have trouble falling or staying asleep- 5- HTP or Tryptophan may help your anxiety. Other things that may help include a full spectrum light as Seasonal Affective Disorder is common at this type of year and will help the winter blues. I will add exercise will increase neurotransmitters favorably. If you can, exercise at least 30 minutes everyday to increase serotonin and dopamine. Exercise in the morning when the sun is out to favorably influence melatonin production at night,
If you have low GABA, you may experience more physical types of anxiety such as muscle tension, butterflies in your gut or you might reach for wine to relax or even stress eat. In this case, GABA or theanine might be your best option to treat your anxiety. You might also notice more digestive distress with low GABA levels- you may experience IBS or SIBO. The Gut and Brain communicate all the time so working on gut function often improves mood and cognitive function also. Lactobacillus rhamnosus as a probiotic can help with GABA production.
Tyrosine is often used to treat low dopamine. Low dopamine is synonymous with lack of motivation and low energy. If you have too much dopamine, you might suffer from irritability or anxiety. Higher levels of clostridia in the gut bacterial population may inhibit the breakdown of dopamine leading to higher levels (in autism specifically this can happen). In this case, you might want to look at whether there is a COMT snp as well or measure dopamine levels with an organic acid test.
Neurons need plasticity to be activated by doing yoga, coordinated movements via exercise (what are you bad at if you have balance issues- do that!) As mentioned, regular exercise is as effective for treating depression and anxiety as pharmaceuticals in some cases.
In terms of diet- autoimmune paleo, anti-inflammatory diets or even ketogenic diets can work wonders on reducing anxiety. It is important to eliminate the usual suspects that can interfere with mood- gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, eggs. High flavonoid foods such as curcumin (turmeric), green tea or resveratrol can go across the blood brain barrier and favorably influence brain function. These are important antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the brain.
Butyrate dampens brain inflammation. A combination of psyllium husks, hemp seeds, and ground flax seeds (1/2 tsp in H20) to promote butyrate is a good addition to your daily breakfast. Adding ghee to your diet will also be a source of dietary butyrate. Ghee is a better tolerated butter for those of you who have a sensitivity to dairy. Short chain fatty acids formed from the breakdown of fibre (think Mediterranean diet) help the genes in the brain to optimally express. This will decrease inflammation in your brain and support proper biochemistry in the brain.
Short chain fatty acids help your gut make neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Your gut bacteria deconjugate serotonin to make it more utilizable.This helps with peristalsis and gut motility.
Meditation calms your anxiety down, It increases the vagus nerve tone and helps with bidirectional communication between the gut and brain. Increasing sociability also helps vagus nerve activity. The vagus nerve is a main connector between your gut and your brain. Gargling for 3 to 5 minutes will activate the motor nerve component of the vagus nerve.
(People that have anorexia have been found to have lower levels of short chain fatty acids and lower serotonin, chromium and zinc. )
Herbs that help with anxiety include chamomile because it increases GABA along with hops. Oatstraw is a nutritive nervine. Skullcap is another good nervine for anxiety.
Probiotics may help with production of neurotransmitters. Enterococcocus species may help increase production of serotonin; bacillus species may increase dopamine; lactobacillus rhamnosus may increase GABA; saccharomyces may increase norepinephrine; latobacillus plantarum may increase acetylcholine.
For help with anxiety and more specific information on using specific amino acids to treat anxiety, come in for a consultation with me at Parallel Wellness 4032321283. Tune into the Anti-Anxiety Summit which is on this week online. Until next time, ohmmmmm….