Saturday, May 24, 2008

Herbal Options for Dancers and Stress

Being a dancer means, among other things, pushing yourself. The dark side of the matter can be stress and anxiety. Here are some widely used natural herbs that can ease anxiety, stress and depression. Please note that I am not a doctor and what follows is not medical advice.

Chamomilein the garden is often called the doctor plant because it helps to strengthen and revive any weak herbs growing nearby. Chamomile is good for the circulation, stomach and uterus, and also sooths the nerves. It promotes normal menstruation and relieves muscular pain, spasms, and colic. As a strong tea, this herb is anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-spasmodic. In Germany it is said that the curative powers of Chamomile are endless and call it alles zutraut-capable of anything.

Kava Kavawas first mentioned in scientific records in 1886, and it is gaining popularity in the U.S. for its relaxing effects. Clinical studies have shown that the herb kava kava is a safe, nonaddictive, anti-anxiety medicine, and is as effective as prescription anxiety agents containing benzodiazepines, for example Valium. While benzodiazepines tend to promote lethargy and mental impairment, kava kava has been shown to improve concentration and memory. The roots can be made into a beverage that's comparable to popular cocktails in our culture. Kava Kava is used in Hawaii, Australia and New Guinea both medicinal and recreational purposes. Kava Kava also is effective as a pain reliever and can be used instead of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Passion floweris a good herb for many nerve conditions. Nervous tensions, agitation, anxiety, hysterical behavior, hyper-activity in children, poor mental concentration. Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, neuralgia, shingles, high blood pressure, and spasmodic asthma. It is also effective for nervous conditions associated with menstrual periods, child birth and menopause. Passion Flower is an herbal sedative, helps relieve muscular spasms, and relieves pain. It is often used for insomnia, without the common side effects of drugs used to treat insomnia such as stupor, depression, and confusion. Passion flower is often available combined with Valerian in nerve relaxation formula.

St. John's Wortis good for mood elevation, controlled studies have shown positive results in treating patients with mild to moderate depression. Improvement was shown with symptoms of sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, headache and exhaustion with no side effects. In Germany, nearly half of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders are treated with hypericin. St. John's wort should not be taken with any other antidepressants, it is not effective for severe depression, and no one should stop taking any prescribed medications for depression without proper medical care.

The active constituents in the herb (there are over 50) include hypericin and pseudohypericin, flavonoids, tannins and procyanidins. The tannins are responsible for the astringent effect for wound healing. Hypericin increases capillary blood flow and is a MAO inhibitor. There are many studies documenting the clinical effects of hypericum as an antidepressant treatment similar to several synthetic antidepressants, but with almost no side effects. Hypericin has been demonstrated to increase theta waves in the brain. Theta waves generally occur during sleep and have been associated with deep meditation, serene pleasure and heightened creative activity.

St. John's wort has been used traditionally as an herbal treatment for anxiety and depression. It is an effective astringent that promotes wound healing and has antiviral properties that can counter herpes simplex, flu viruses and is being investigated as a treatment for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Mother nature is wonderful and has provided all that we need in order to keep ourselves in balance. There are many other herbal remedies for stress and anxiety, these are just a few I am
familiar with.

Here is a link to an interesting article on Valerian as an excellent herbal anti-anxiety pill.