Chew Away Anxiet
Return to Day 8 of the Summit
Some people may experience a bit of anxiety, for a variety of reasons, and these negative feelings may adversely affect their lives in a variety of ways. People suffering from serious anxiety issues should of course speak with their doctors, but for most people with light anxiety & depression other potential solutions may be easily found (but still talk to your doctor). This article isn't meant to provide any medical advice; again please consult a medical professional about your issues. The intention is simply to discuss this common issue and provide, for informational purposes only, some ideas to explore further if you consider it right for you.
First of all, if you are a coffee junkie, and may often be found at a local cafe, then the source of your jitters may be found within your latte. Caffeine is a very potent drug, very similar to cocaine, and interestingly it was almost prohibited by the same stroke of the pen as cocaine was until someone pointed out to the lawmakers that the implications would be that they'd have to give up their beloved coffee, tea, and chocolates. Caffeine was thus quickly removed from the prohibition. This number one most used and abused drug in the world, caffeine, does have many negative effects on physical & mental health, despite the recent unsubstantiated media propaganda that coffee is good for you.
One of the most common side effects experienced by people is anxiety, and so if that is an issue for you then the first thing perhaps you should consider is drastically lowering, or even eliminating, caffeine from your diet. If you want to see just how addicted you are to this addictive substance then go ahead and completely quit caffeine for four days cold turkey. Best try it over a weekend so that the incredible withdrawal symptoms don't affect your work, because you will suffer tremendously, particularly if you guzzle down the brown liquid as your primary source of water. Though quitting "cold turkey" may be the best way for people who want to eliminate caffeine to quickly relieve anxiety & psychotic issue, however for most people a gradual reduction towards elimination would be better to avoid the suffering due to withdrawal.
There is a lot to be said about coffee and caffeine, however it is beyond the scope of this article. Please spend some time Googling about the benefits of quitting, and speak to your doctor about how this drug is negatively affecting you, particularly if anxiety is an issue for you. Also google "caffeine spider web NASA" for an interesting learning experience. Here is a parting thought to consider. After you have eliminated caffeine from your system you will find that your energy levels will be much more consistent throughout the day, and that you really won't need coffee to wake up in the morning, and to keep you running through the day. Furthermore, you may *USE* coffee occasionally for those times that you really need a pick-me-up, and a small amount will have a noticeable effect since you'll have no built-up tolerance to it. Thus you could *USE* the drug rather than *ABUSE* it like most of the rest of the world does. They don't realize it, but they are "hooked", completely dependant upon it... and how is this different that people addicted to other drugs???
A lot of people "use" a puff of marijuana to deal with their anxiety issues. This is actually a bit of a convoluted subject. Yes, marijuana certainly does help a lot of people overcome their anxiety & depression, and a lot of doctors have prescribed marijuana for exactly that purpose. However, for some people, marijuana may actually heighten and/or create anxiety issues, particularly with sativa dominant strains (CBD tends to lower anxiety). Furthermore, some people who regularly consume cannabis may experience a bit of anxiety, and thus they reach for a puff to quell that anxiousness, however what that may be an indication of is that they are experiencing a slight withdrawal symptom from the cannabis itself. A bit of honest self-reflection will reveal to you what your sources of anxiety are, and what role cannabis may have in the cause and/or relief it has for you.
So far we looked at caffeine, which does have a remarkable effect on many people regarding anxiety issues, and we briefly touched on the point that cannabis can be both cause & cure for anxiousness for different people. Now even if cannabis can help you to overcome feelings of anxiety, and help you to relax, this isn't always an appropriate solution for all people at all times. Being high or stoned at work or during other times may simply be inappropriate, but you may still need a way to overcome those negative feelings you are experiencing. If you have severe issues then talk about it with your doctor, but if you prefer to avoid the dangerous antidepressants and anxiolytic drugs they might prescribe to you, or if your issues are relatively minor, then perhaps the solution you seek is as close as your local health food store.
There are many herbs that have gentle relaxing properties, anxiolytic effects (anti-anxiety), and also anti-depressing effects too. Many old hippies know to brew teas from a variety of herbs to help them with these kinds of issues, and to deal with the cannabis withdrawal symptoms if they need to stop using weed for any reason. There are many herbs that are helpful in various ways, including Lemon Balm, Passion Flower, St. John's Wort, Motherwort, Catnip, and many others. It is important to talk to your doctor if you are on any antidepressant medications (anything that is an SSRI or MAOI) to avoid any serious complications with those drugs, particularly with Passion Flower (a weak MAOI) and St. John's Wort (a weak SSRI). At health food stores you can often buy boxes of prepared tea bags containing these kinds of herbs, which makes brewing an herbal infusion / tea with these as easy as making regular tea, but these stores also sell these herbs in loose form, often in bulk. Those stores also sell capsules of the above mentioned herbs, which may be a convenient way to administer the herbs for some people.
There is a ton that could easily be shared in this article about many herbs, but for the sake of brevity will focus mostly upon one herb, Lemon Balm, and a couple of ways to use it. Though Lemon Balm is generally regarded as safe, and is frequently used for culinary purposes, it is important to note that people with low thyroid function should best avoid this herb. Ask your doctor if there is any reason for you to be concerned about using this gentle herb. As is typically mentioned with any herb, to be cautious, avoid using Lemon Balm or most other herbs while pregnant, unless otherwise advised by a competent & qualified health practitioner.
Lemon Balm is mildly psychoactive, having a soothing & calming effect. It is generally regarded as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), slightly antidepressant (gently uplifts the mood), and is a very gentle sedative, which helps people with insomnia due to its calming effects, that doesn't cloud the mind. Lemon Balm is often used by people dealing with various kinds of anxieties, and Googling about it will reveal a tremendous amount of information about it.
Two common ways people use Lemon Balm for the above mentioned effects include brewing an infusion (aka a tea), or chewing a quid. Huh? What's "chewing a quid"? You can take a few leaves and simply chew them. The juices containing the medicinal components will get swallowed, but also some of the good stuff will absorb sublingually and buccally, kind of like how people who chew tobacco absorb the nicotine (a poison), meaning that it goes right through the skin within your mouth into the bloodstream. Whereas drinking a tea may take a long time before you feel the subtle effects, by chewing it you begin to experience the Lemon Balm within minutes. Some people actually smoke or vaporize Lemon Balm, and yes, it does have noticeable effects that way too, but if you are a regular cannabis smoker you might barely notice the subtle effects. Remember, this is NOT a marijuana substitute, so don't smoke it expecting to get high otherwise you will be disappointed, though some people do enjoy the soft pleasant effects from puffing it.
Before continuing to the main point of this article, one more thing ought to be mentioned. Lemon Balm, Motherwort (also the related Wild Daggas), and some other herbs have what is called a "reverse tolerance effect". Unlike with cannabis, coffee, and many others, that have a declining effect the more you use it due to a buildup of tolerance to the substance, these herbs actually have the opposite effect. The first few times you use Lemon Balm, Motherwort, or some others, the effect is minimal, but after regular use over a week or so then the effects become much more noticeable using smaller amounts of the herb. This is the reason why many people consider such herbs to be junk after just one or two "tries", as they experienced little to no effects. The secret is repeated use until it "kicks in", and then people hail these herbs as being magnificent.
Alright, now lets get to the actual pragmatic information. If you are experiencing some slight anxiety and need a little relief from it, then consider a pinch of Lemon Balm. You can buy the herb at your local health food store in bulk, or tear open a tea bag of it. Simply put a pinch of the herb between your cheek and your gums, or just inside the lip, exactly like people who chew tobacco do, except with this it is safe for you to swallow your saliva (remember, tobacco is a poison, and swallowing your spit would make you sick). Every now & then simply manipulate the pinch of herb with your tongue to move it around, give it a couple of chews to release some of the medicinal stuff, and park it back between your cheek & gums, perhaps this time on the other side of your mouth. In a few minutes you should start to feel the soothing effects of the Lemon Balm, and the levels of anxiety melt away. Remember, it is subtle, yet noticeable. Over time you will learn to judge how big or small of a pinch of the herb to use. If you feel yourself getting groggy and tired then try using less, or in the evening you might desire the sleepy effect and thus you'd use more. As with any relaxing herbs and medication, avoid doing dangerous stuff, such as driving.
Another way to use the herb similarly to what was explained above, is to chew the herb with some chewing gum. Use whatever brand of chewing gum you like, stick it in your mouth along with a pinch of the herb and chew away the anxiety. The Lemon Balm quickly gets incorporated into the gum and so you won't have pieces of green stuck between your teeth. If you find the effects of the herb a bit too strong then simply stop chewing for a while. If you ever chewed nicotine gum you'll be familiar with the process - chew, chew, park... chew, chew, park.
Simply keep the Lemon Balm in a small pill bottle or even a Tic Tac box. It is easy to carry the herb around and access some when you need the gentle soothing effects. It does sort of look like ground up marijuana, so be discreet grabbing your pinch out in public, though if anyone asks if it is marijuana simply show it to them, let them smell it, and tell them what it is. Remember, there is nothing wrong with using it, and it is perfectly legal.
Here is a bit of a bonus. I debated whether to share this bit of information, but since it may be helpful to some people here it is.
Motherwort is another fantastic herb which helps with anxiety and nervous issues. Google it. It "gladdens the heart", and calms the nerves. It grows wild just about everywhere, and chances are that it is growing in your neighborhood. There are several variants of motherwort that are commonly used in traditional herbal medicine, both western & asian, and a few of those plants have in recent years become popular for another reason entirely. They have become popular as "Legal Herbs", use by people looking for legal marijuana substitutes. "Wild Dagga", "Klip Dagga", and even the herb in Mexico called "Marhuanilla" (the "little marijuana"), all related motherworts in the mint family, are considered by many to be the closest to marijuana in effects, and they are all legal to grow, possess, and indulge in just about anywhere in the world. You may even find them in your local plant nurseries as they are popular garden plants to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, not to mention that they look lovely to us humans too.
Now let me save you some time, and your lungs. Though many people smoke these herbs as a marijuana substitute, honestly inhaling these herbs is just nasty harsh. If you are looking for a legal replacement to marijuana, well, even though many consider it to have similar effects to low doses of pot, don't expect to be blown away by it. Though it has medicinal benefits of it's own, it is certainly not a cannabis replacement for the medicinal effects, mostly just some of the relaxing recreational effects. Learn to enjoy it for what it is, rather than comparing it to marijuana, and then you'll learn to appreciate it. Despite the fact that some people use it as a legal marijuana alternative, seriously, a recreational alternative it isn't; please respect this medicinal herb as a medicine. Also, remember that it is known for having the "reverse tolerance effect". This is why online reviews are such a mixture of people who think this is garbage to those who just love it. You need to use a tiny bit every day or two for a week or two before you can experience what it really has to offer.
At health food stores you can buy motherwort herb and use it straight. Please be cautious, as depending upon how they harvested the herb there may be sharp little spines in there. The best way to use this herb is to buy the orange flowers (there are many online vendors) from the more potent "klip" & "wild" daggas, and use just one or two of these flowers as described above with the Lemon Balm, holding it between your cheeks / gums, and chewing periodically. Once the "reverse tolerance effect" kicks in you'll be amazed that even a single flower can have such a significant effect on you. It will relax you similar to a little puff of cannabis would, and have a very subtle effect of uplifting your mood. It is pleasant. However to alleviate anxiety you might even find that even a half a flower is more than enough.
Why am I sharing this information with you? For a few reasons. Most importantly, a small pinch of lemon balm along with a tiny bit of motherwort (Dagga flowers, whatever) has a soothing effect on low levels of anxiety. If you are experiencing cannabis withdrawals you may find this particularly helpful if you need to quit cannabis for some reason. While preparing for the Summit I chose to quit cannabis (ironic, I know), you may read why here, and I personally found this to be quite helpful.
Another reason why this information may be of value to some people is that they might prefer to use this as a legal marijuana alternative, to help relax at the end of the day. No, it is not as fantastic as marijuana recreationally (or at all medicinally), but if you must avoid cannabis for legal reasons, or prefer to avoid getting arrested, then this may be of interest too. Again, it is being mentioned for interests sake, but the real purpose of this discussion is that these herbs may be helpful for people dealing with anxiety issues.
As a tea, Lemon Balm tastes great. Motherwort is bitter, and Passion Flower isn't the greatest tasting either. By the way, Passion Flower is another great herb that helps with anxiety & depression issues too, but as mentioned before since it is a very mild MAOI it is best avoided if you are on SSRI antidepressant medications. Of course there are many other herbs worth looking into for people experiencing anxiety issues, such as Kava Kava, St. John's Wort, and many others. Talk to a skilled herbalist or naturopath to learn more.
The world is full of helpful herbs, not just cannabis, and there are countless other benefits herbs have than just helping with anxiety & depression. Pick up a good book on herbs and start to learn about them for culinary & medicinal purposes. If you came to cannabis for health reasons then you really ought to explore the vast herbal treasures this planet has to offer you. A great author to start learning from is Susun Weed, and be sure to listen to her interview available at the Cannabis World Summit.
Return to Day 8 of the Summit