Our ability to cope with stress depends largely on the complex interactions between components of our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). The adrenal cortex figures prominently in the manifestation of adrenal fatigue due to disregulation of the production of cortisol. Adrenal fatigue is not widely medically recognised, and lies somewhere between the underactivity of Addison’s disease and the overactivity of Cushing’s Disease, where cortisol levels lie at the extremes.
Recognising, diagnosing and effectively treating anxiety with an evidence-based integrative medicine approach.
With the growing focus on the human microbiome there has been a profound shift in our understanding of the role of the gut in health and disease.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is widely distributed throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Reduced GABA levels, or impaired GABA function, in the brain has been linked to psychiatric and neurological disorders including anxiety, depression, insomnia and epilepsy.
A cup of tea is often associated with a sense of calm. L-theanine, a unique free amino acid naturally present in tea (Camellia sinensis), is likely the compound contributing most significantly to this.
Botanicals are an alternative option to prescription drugs for the alleviation of symptoms due to anxiety disorders and insomnia. Melissa officinalis L. has been shown as an antistress and anxiolytic agent.
A six-week, double-blind, randomised controlled trial involving chronic administration of kava (120mg kavalactones/day, titrated in non-response to 240mg kavalactones/day) or placebo for participants with generalised anxiety disorder.
Results showed no significant differences across groups for liver function tests, nor were there any significant adverse reactions that could be attributed to kava.
Depression and anxiety disorders are exploding in prevalence. It is believed that at least 3 million Australians, at any given time, suffer from these conditions. And, while we do have standard medication for many psychiatric and psychological conditions, research shows that anywhere between 60-90% of people prescribed antidepressants fail to get a benefit that is superior to placebo. What these statistics suggest is that we are not addressing the underlying causes.