End anx­i­ety and stay younger! Sur­pris­ing

Woman's World - - Your Good Health -

but true: Chronic anx­i­ety can speed ag­ing by short­en­ing our telom­eres, the caps on our genes re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing us young, re­ports the jour­nal Neu­ral Plas­tic­ity. The good news: Even if you of­ten feel on edge, a few steps can keep anx­i­ety in check and slow ag­ing at the same time!

Cre­ate calm with dark cho­co­late! Sounds too good to be true, but dark cho­co­late is an all- nat­u­ral anx­i­ety re­liever! A new study in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Health Sciences found that women who ate dark cho­co­late daily for just two weeks ex­pe­ri­enced a sig­nif­i­cant drop in anx­i­ety. Thanks goes to co­coa’s rich stores of mag­ne­sium, a min­eral that plays a ma­jor role in calm­ing the ner­vous sys­tem. “Just 40 grams of dark cho­co­late per day— the size of a reg­u­lar cho­co­late bar— helps sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce feel­ings of chronic anx­i­ety,” says natur­opath Michelle Schof­fro Cook, PH.D., D.N.M., au­thor of Be Your Own Her­bal­ist. Pre­fer a sup­ple­ment? Take 320 mg. daily.

Try the herbal Xanax— va­le­rian root!

It’s not called the herbal Xanax just to be cute: Va­le­rian root has the same chem­i­cal makeup as the anti-anx­i­ety Rx! “Its ac­tive in­gre­di­ent, valerenic acid, works the way Xanax does, by boost­ing lev­els of the brain- calm­ing hor­mone GABA,” Schof­fro Cook says. “But it doesn’t have the long list of side ef­fects linked to the drug.” It also in­duces drowsi­ness, help­ing you get a good night’s sleep, another anx­i­ety- quelling move. Try mak­ing your nightly night­cap a cup of sooth­ing va­le­rian root tea (such as Alvita Or­ganic Va­le­rian Root Tea, $7.43, iherb.com).

Give some­one a hug!

Hug­ging a loved one— pets count!— re­lieves anx­i­ety by trig­ger­ing a burst of feel- good hor­mones. “Our bod­ies re­lease the hor­mone oxy­tocin in re­sponse to cud­dling or hug­ging, which low­ers the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol and sig­nif­i­cantly boosts our feel­ings of well­be­ing,” says Schof­fro Cook. Cud­dling even helps lower phys­i­cal symp­toms of stress, such as blood pres­sure and heart rate— keep­ing anx­i­ety’s un­healthy con­se­quences at bay.

Turn to an an­cient herb

Ash­wa­gandha, used in In­dia to treat anx­i­ety for more than 3,000 years, is now proven to re­duce stress- re­lated anx­i­ety 69% by block­ing chem­i­cals that sig­nal the ner­vous sys­tem. “When the body is in fight- or-flight mode, the hor- mones cor­ti­sol and adren­a­line are re­leased,” says holis­tic nutri­tion­ist Lor­raine Kear­ney. “Ash­wa­gandha helps reg­u­late hor­mone func­tion, re­liev­ing stress and im­prov­ing anx­i­ety symp­toms.” A daily 250- to 300- mg. dose also grad­u­ally re­stores the health of the adrenal glands, so they stop over­pro­duc­ing stress hor­mones.

—Kal­lie E. Kris­tensen

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