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  • Ask the Practitioner: How Can I Calm Stage Fright?

    Q. I’ve been having some major anxiety recently when forced to speak in front of a group of people. I get mouth twitches and my heart begins to race. Do you have any herbal remedies or product suggestions?

    A. It’s fairly common to feel the situational anxiety you experience while speaking in public—I know from my own experience! Here are some natural products to try:

    L-theanine is an amino acid naturally found in green tea that promotes mental calmness and relaxation. L-theanine works by increasing GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter that protects from overexcitement of neurons) and dopamine (a feel-good neurotransmitter that can help with concentration). I like Natural Factors’ Suntheanine in fast-acting chewable wafers.

    GABA is the predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter that works to calm over-excitement in the nervous system that can lead to irritability, restlessness, sleeplessness and spasmodic movements. GABA increases the production of alpha waves (calming) and decreases beta waves (stress-related) in the brain. I like Natural Factors’ fast-acting, chewable Pharma GABA or Thorne Research Pharmagaba.

    Gelsemium sempervire is a homeopathic remedy that is known to help with stage fright. Gelsemium works best for those that experience emotional excitement and fear leading to trembling, dizziness or dullness. Try it in a 30c potency, 3-5 pellets under the tongue. You can take a dose every 15 minutes if needed leading up to the time of your speech if needed.

    WishGarden’s Emotional Ally is one of my favorite calming herbal formulations for temporary relief of anxiety, restlessness and irritability. The herbs in this formula such as passionflower and skullcap are anxiety soothing and emotionally calming. You can take several dropperfuls if needed.

    Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a very popular flower essence blend available in drops, spray, gum and candies, which help relieve an immediate edge. The five flower essences used in this formulation help ease fright, tension and irritability. Rescue Remedy is designed to help center your emotions until the crisis has past.

    Hawthorn is the herb that gives your heart a hug. It’s a loving, calming herb that can help counteract anxiety. Hawthorn is most commonly used for physical ailments of the heart such as heart palpitations can happen with anxiety and stage fright. Try Pharmaca brand or Gaia Herbs’ Hawthorn. 

  • Which Sleep Supplement is Right For Me?

    Losing sleep isn’t something to casually ignore--too little sleep can cause all kinds of health issues, from poor work performance to inability to lose weight to some chronic diseases. If you’re confused about which ingredients do what, here’s some information about common elements in our most popular sleep formulas.

    5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP):
    In the body L-tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which can then be converted to serotonin, which affects sleep, appetite, as well as depression and anxiety. Commercially available 5-HTP is isolated from a seed from the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia.
    One to try: Pharmaca’s 5-HTP

    Gamma-Aminobutryic Acid (GABA):
    In the central nervous system, GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it slows down the synapses that overfire (usually due to too much stress). Supplemental GABA is created as a byproduct of the fermentation process of Lactobacillus hilgardii
    Try it in: NightRest by Source Naturals, which includes GABA, melatonin, skullcap and other relaxing herbs.

    Primarily a temperate European plant, hops contain several different flavonoids and other ingredients that help calm the nervous system. It packs a powerful punch, so it’s best when used in combination with other less powerful sedative herbs.
    Find it in: Herb Pharm’s Relaxing Sleep Tonic

    An amino acid found in green tea, as well as in some mushrooms, L-Theanine has historically been used for its relaxing and anti-anxiety effects; it's thought that it might work for anxiety by increasing levels of GABA and serotonin. While it won’t necessarily put you to sleep, it can help slow racing thoughts.
    One to try: Natural Factors’ Suntheanine

    Lemon Balm: A member of the mint family, lemon balm contains volatile oils, in particular citral and citronellal, that can calm the central nervous system and have a relaxing effect on the muscles.
    Find it in: Lemon Balm Force by New Chapter

    : This hormone plays a vital role in regulating the body’s circadian rhythms, endocrine secretions and sleep patterns. Melatonin works best to enhance sleep if the body is lacking in the hormone (and can actually cause wakefulness if the body has too much). Dr. Jacobs recommends 1-3 mg, about 30 minutes before sleep.
    One to try: Source Naturals’ Sublingual Melatonin

    This herb grows uncultivated in North America, and is traditionally used to calm anxiety. “Skullcap is a good mental relaxer, says Julie Plunkett, medical herbalist at Pharmaca La Jolla. “It’s what we call the herb for over-thinking.”
    Find it in: WishGarden Herbs’ Sleepy Nights

    Valerian: Native to Europe and Asia, valerian has been used as a sedative medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Dr. Brad Jacobs recommends finding a formula that includes at least .3% of valerenic acid, and taking it 30-60 minutes before sleep.
    One to try: Gaia Herbs’ Valerian Root

    Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner for more information about sleep-specific supplements.

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