Anxiety: CAM Therapies for Specific
- Hypnotherapy is currently used in health
care to modify feelings of pain, anxiety, and fear, and to gain acceptance of
- Imagery is used to prepare patients for
medical procedures, to relieve pain and anxiety, and to soothe side effects that
are aggravated by anxiety.
- Many patients have found imagery helpful, even if they were not cured,
and have reported relief of anxiety and pain, better toleration of chemotherapy
and radiation, and an increased sense of control.
- A study showed that Qi Gong exercises, involving physical movement
and breathing techniques, were helpful for patients with reflex sympathetic
dystrophy, a debilitating disease of the autonomic nervous system that often
resists medical intervention. For these patients, Qi Gong significantly reduced
pain and anxiety.
- Therapists use music for a number of purposes, including
reduction of stress, anxiety, and social isolation.
- In the treatment of heart disease, music has been used as a pacemaker, helping
patients to sustain normal heart rhythms. It also reduces anxiety in heart
- Taking a holistic approach to the
individual, traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine maintains that all aspects of life
contribute to health, including nutrition, hygiene, sleep, weather, and
lifestyle, as well as physical, mental, and sexual activities. Emotional
factors are also taken into consideration. Anger, fear, anxiety, and unhealthy
relationships are believed to contribute to illness. A healthy emotional state
is considered the very foundation of physical health.
- Brahmi, an Ayurvedic herb, is highly valued as
an anti-anxiety compound.
- A study evaluated the effects of pancha
karma, an Ayurvedic
detoxification regimen, on risk factors for heart disease in thirty-one adults.
Patients who participated in a program of herbs, meditation, and moderate
exercise were found to have an 80 percent increase in the ability of their
blood vessels to dilate three months after the treatment, indicating improved
function. Total cholesterol was reduced in all the participants, with a reduced
measure of free radical damage and significantly reduced anxiety.
- Yoga programs have shown the potential for helping to reduce
heart disease by influencing such risk factors as blood pressure, anxiety, and
unhealthy reaction to stress.
- As a result of over a dozen studies, it
has been concluded that devout religious belief enhances health and well being and helps
protect against anxiety and depression. However, religious beliefs can have a
negative impact. Religious dogma can be harmful when it fosters excessive
guilt, perfectionistic expectations, fear, or lowered self-worth.
- A study found that patients in a
cardiovascular unit who received therapeutic touch, a procedure involving the manipulation
of the body’s energy fields, showed a significant reduction in anxiety,
compared to patients receiving mock therapeutic touch.
- Studies indicate that the herb kava
"intoxicating pepper," may reduce anxiety and induce sleep. Kava
should not be used with antidepressants, alcohol, muscle relaxants,
tranquilizers such as Valium, or any other sedating pharmaceuticals used for
the central nervous system. Kava can cause a skin reaction (dermatitis) or
sensitivity to light. Rarely, hallucinations have been reported. If you use
this herb for a long period of time, which is not advisable, your skin can
become temporarily yellow. Your nails and your hair can react as well. If you
overdose on kava you will have a strong urge to sleep and you might lose
control of your voluntary muscles. Kava should not be used while driving a
motor vehicle or operating heavy equipment, during pregnancy, or if you have a
history of depression. The typical preparation is a crude extract of
standardized kavalactone (30 percent) and the typical dose is 45-70 mg of
kavalactone. Typical dosage is 250 mg of the standardized extract two or three
times per day, preferably with meals. Do not take more than two 250 mg capsules
in any four-hour period. Kava may relieve mild anxiety in less than an hour,
but it can require up to eight weeks for any impact on severe anxiety. Take for
a maximum of three months followed by abstaining for two to four weeks.
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BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier,
Reprinted by permission of Simon &
Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
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