Wisdom remedies can be used to change the patterns that lead to anxiety, and they can give a new lease on life to someone plagued with what can be life-limiting anxiety. This article discusses some options for permanently changing anxiety producing patterns.
In the discussion of anxiety, it is easy to confuse whether you are using an herb as a wisdom remedy or for a direct physical action. For example, some herbs may work very well for calming the nervous system, digestion or just taking a person down a couple of notches, but these are physical actions. Remember that a wisdom remedy works to change a pattern in the body, and it does this slowly by adding connections and awareness, by opening closed doors in the psyche, by breaking up blocked, traumatic experiences or in many other ways. These changes are not usually fast, but they are effective over time.
Traditionally over the last 100 years, herbs have been used for anxiety directly. That is to say, they are used to calm the person down, nourish the nervous system and even sedate the person. Some classic herbal formulas, like Jethro Kloss’ antispasmodic tincture, have been used for this. Many simples have been used such as my favorite quick treatment for most anxiety, which is cayenne pepper stirred into water (as much as a teaspoon) and drunk down.
Other simples that have helped are:
• Valerian root (muscle relaxant)
• Catnip (calming sedative, affects digestion)
• Black cohosh (nervine, calming, hormonal aid)
• Wood betony (alters the relationship with pain and the psychological state)
• Jamaican dogwood (just takes you down a couple notches and eases pain)
• Lobelia (alters physiological function, takes you down a notch)
• Chamomile (calming to digestion and nourishing to the nervous system)
• St. John’s wort (calming to the brain, nourishing to the nervous system”
• Oat flowers (nourishing to the nervous system)
These remedies are certainly not the only ones that have helped. I have left out many other members of the mint family and other nervine herbs, but hopefully you get the idea of how the herbs were used. They might have been curative…or not. This would depend on how much of the problem was traceable to a deep pattern that needed to be healed. These herbs would help heal the physical body and brain, but would not do much, if anything, to change a pattern of behavior, belief or fear.
When we deal with using wisdom remedies for anxiety, we are forced to ask if there is an underlying cause we can put our fingers on. Without this (and this is always true in all medicine) we are just shooting in the dark. I do not mean to discourage anyone who wants to use wisdom remedies. They are harmless and helpful. In addition, individuals who will take the biggest chance in the world and look honestly at themselves, will commonly discover something pretty close to the origin and nature of their patterns. If a person truly cannot look clearly at him or herself, then a wisdom remedy that will help awaken awareness of self, or that will help reveal a deeply buried trauma, is indicated.
For such things, we would use one of three options:
• 3-5 drops of arnica tincture one time daily to disperse the darkness and blocked nature of a deep, forgotten or unexplored trauma to the psyche and emotions,
• Some nourishing wisdom remedy that gives strength to face one’s self, such as oat flowers, ashwaganda or St. John’s wort
• Some herb that will open understanding that is closed, such as Reishi Mushroom or regular hot baths in ginger, cloves and kelp together (1/8 cup each in the bath, 20 minutes long)
Ideally, we would find a more specific approach to each individual’s troubles. I certainly cannot anticipate every possible underlying problem, but there are some that seem to be common based on my personal practice.
1. Anxiety with childishness and attention-grabbing behaviors or fears: Diagnoses which criticize the ill person are avoided because we do no one a favor by blaming them. We want to help, so we find out how we can help wherever the person is. However, in this case, the childishness and attention grabbing is simply a reality.
These people have no conscious power over the problem, it is closed to them. They are not throwing a fit now on purpose, they really are experiencing whatever they are experiencing…for the purpose of this article, anxiety of some type. These individuals usually had a youthful family upset and an unbalanced childhood thereafter spent primarily with one parent. For these, chamomile is the choice. 1 cup of the tea 1 time daily works great. This is done, once more, for months. Gradually, the childish behavior starts to leave and the person will move to a more stable, happy state.
2. Cold anxiety: This and each of the following distinctions are names I applied to anxiety that I see clinically, in order to help me classify it. There are probably names originating from the psychology profession for these conditions, but I do not practice psychology and those names are not helpful to me. Cold anxiety describes a person who becomes cold, with circulation shifts, and they often are also somewhat withdrawn, though the anxiety can make them active.
For these cases, I use something that has a tendency to make the person feel warm and feel supported. Larger doses of ginger will help relieve these cases right away. But curatively, I use Chinese ginseng with wood betony. The ginseng (and I might use Korean red ginseng, depending on how cold the case is) warms deeply, slowly, while the wood betony (Stachys officinalis, mint family) is like having a friend with you, right there. I would use one dropper full of each 2 times daily for several months.
3. Hot anxiety: This is one that comes with a person who is too hot, too active and very outward in response to the anxiety. This person may get violent or at least unpleasant when anxiety strikes. This person needs deep security and nourishment. Ashwaganda and oat flowers will work very well. These herbs are best made into a syrup, but the tincture will work. 3 droppers full of the combined tinctures, or two teaspoons of the combined syrup one time daily is the recommended dosage. Acutely (when the person is in the hyperactive state), cayenne pepper will work very well. This is up to a teaspoon stirred into water and drunk down that way.
4. Dread anxiety: Sounds like a redundant description, but it is not. Anxiety can be present without dread. When dread is present, it can sometimes produce a phobia that totally controls the person’s life. For such people, if a practitioner can be located, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) should be checked and nourished if low. Low CSF is often associated with this type of pattern. Whether or not CSF is low, the pattern exists and can be helped by wisdom remedies.
Dread comes from a deep sense of hidden doom. This is a good case for arnica tincture as described above. It is also a good case for the deepest kind of nourishment. Astragalus is the perfect fit here. It should be in tincture form all by itself. 2 droppers full one time daily is the dose. This herb also enhances the barrier between the inside and the outside of the body. It gradually creates a sense of security in the person who is insecure. It also warms somewhat, helping to prevent the deep loss of heat at the deepest level that accompanies dread anxiety.
5. Nervous anxiety: This again sounds redundant, but I had to call it something that would make sense to me. This person is very agitated to the point of almost complete incapacitation. They cannot function with any degree of control during the anxiety attack. This should be distinguished from dread anxiety, which also incapacitates, but out of dread, not nervousness. This person is recognized by their near hysteria. They need a solid anchor to stabilize them. They also need to equalize circulation.
Cloves and ginger together work well for this person. ¼ teaspoon of each in apple juice one time daily will work great. Cloves help with hysteria. They purify the inside of the body and they create the feel of being anchored. The cloves themselves do not provide the anchor, but rather they have an effect on the consciousness that opens one up to the real anchors in his or her life. The ginger is there more to calm the agitation of the gut, which is probably present in every type of anxiety. Not uncommonly, it is the cause. This person may have actual parasites in the visceral organs or gut. The cloves and ginger together work wonderfully to help with this too. As with each of these, they are taken for months at a time to experience the shift in deep physical, psychological, emotional or social patterns.
6. Anxiety Addiction: No discussion of anxiety would be complete without talking about anxiety addiction. This is like pain addiction. There is nothing about it the person likes. S/he is not looking for attention or any logical desirable thing. Instead, this person has actually developed adaptations to the hyper-stimulation of anxiety so that when it is absent, there is actually a physiological imbalance. Thus, this person will actually anticipate the onset of anxiety and will always be looking for it and will not be able to let go of it.
We use wisdom remedies for this too, but we also use a direct physical remedy that affects the body in a wisdom-type way. First, the simple wisdom remedy for addiction of any type is oat flowers. These fill a void—almost any void in the body and psyche. ½ dropper full 1 time daily is enough. Then, we also work with this person on the functional aspects of the stomach. The stomach is involved with so much of the psyche, I have often wondered if we should just default to healing the stomach in all cases of psychiatric disease. We might find some outrageously high percentage like 50-60% might get totally better this way. Since I am not a research scientist we shall have to try this harmless approach on our own and determine after several weeks if it is working or not.
In the case of addiction, the health of the stomach is vital (this is how well we digest life, do we get what we need from it and then let it move on from there). Acupuncture would be a good approach. So also, in addition to the herbs we use, is a careful diet that removes the burden on the digestion. I recently released a course on this subject from www.madherbalist.com called Diet and Digestion which covers this subject in detail. Herbally, we use one ounce of aloe vera juice on an empty stomach one time daily and we drink ginger, cardamom and licorice root tea 15 minutes before each meal and 45 minutes after. This is equal parts ginger and cardamom and ¼ part licorice root. We use one cup of the tea each time.
7. Cardiac anxiety is the last one we will discuss. This is accompanied by obvious heart palpitations and sweating, showing heart involvement in the process. These cases can have many physiological causes and if self-treatment proves stubborn, a practitioner should be sought who can determine what is underlying the problem. Often, however, these cases can be helped by wisdom remedies. In this case, we simply use dong quai. This works very much better as a syrup than any other form and will probably have to be made at home. One tablespoon of dong quai syrup two times daily will heal blood quality (which will reduce all forms of anxiety) and will also build blood around the liver.
This will have a delayed response of several weeks, but as the blood builds, it will also enable the liver to regulate the heart, thyroid and all hormones. This is the most likely cause and the best treatment I know in these cases. Some temporary relief may come if motherwort tincture is used during the attack. Lemon balm also might help relieve symptoms as these are metabolically calming and mildly sedating and motherwort is tonic to the heart also. But these will be band-aids at best and the underlying problem should be helped.
This concludes our discussion of anxiety. It is probably not complete, but it seems to cover everything with which I have had clinical experience. As stated, anxiety is a complicated thing, but it is certainly possible to heal and I suspect most people will find significant relief if not total relief from one or more of the tools discussed here.