It is normal for any of us to feel anxious in certain situations, but some children experience high levels of anxiety that are beyond what would be expected for their age and developmental level. This can prevent them participating in activities or interfere with their ability to do what other children their age routinely do.
Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Excess worrying
- Feelings of apprehension
- Racing heartbeat
- Dry mouth
- Digestive disturbances such as diarrhea
- Disturbed sleep
- Difficulty relaxing
Anxiety in children is not uncommon and while therapy and emotional support are the foundation for helping your child manage anxiety there are a number of nutritional treatments that are extremely effective in reducing anxiety and supporting their growth and development.
What causes anxiety?
MTHFR is a gene that plays an essential role in methylation and folate metabolism. If this gene is defective this conversion does not happen effectively leading to an imbalance of brain chemicals.
I test for MTHFR in children experiencing high levels of anxiety with no other obvious causation. Treatment involves dietary modifications, supplementation with activated B vitamins and essential minerals involved in methylation, along with herbal medicine to relieve the anxiety symptoms.
Pyroluria is a genetic condition where the body produces a large amount of chemicals called pyrroles. These chemicals are a byproduct of red blood cell production and are excreted in the urine. The pyrroles bind to vitamin B6 and zinc and these nutrients are also excreted resulting in deficiencies.
Vitamin B6 and zinc deficiency results in nervousness, irritability, anxiety, depression, short-term memory problems and anger and health problems such as poor gut health, poor immune function and delayed growth.
Once confirmed via a urine test Pyroluria is managed through a balance of supplementation, diet and stress management.
Anxiety can be the result of past or current trauma. In this situation it is important that the child work with a counselor or psychologist. Optimal nutrition and short term supplementation are required to support their growth and development and I utilize herbal medicine to relieve the anxiety symptoms.
Optimal gut function is the key to health therefore when your gut microbiome is out of balance or your digestive system is not working properly it can result in general health issues and also mental health issues.
Gut health is impacted by environmental pollutions, medications, poor sleep, stress and a diet high in processed foods.
There is an abundance of scientific studies that demonstrate how nutritional therapies and specific pre and probiotic treatment can successfully treat anxiety.
Anxiety is more prevalent around puberty for both girls and boys. Changing levels of hormones can result in the temporary imbalance of brain chemicals which can result in anxiety.
Most of the time this will pass as hormone levels settle but in the meantime it is important to ensure nutrition is optimal. Supplementation of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and zinc are usually indicated during this time and herbal medicine can be extremely beneficial during this time of transition.
Nutrient deficiencies are often implicated in childhood anxiety. Simple dietary changes, improving gut health to optimize absorption of nutrients and temporary supplementation of vitamins and minerals can correct deficiencies and result in a significant improvement in symptoms.
Magnesium is without a doubt my first go to nutrient for anxiety. It is depleted by stress and supplementation can improve sleep, muscle health, concentration and energy.
Chronic stress can contribute to anxiety in a number of ways. It can impact gut health, deplete valuable nutrients and lead to increase cortisol levels. Chronically elevated cortisol can lead to anxiety symptoms. Herbal medicines are extremely efficient are resolving elevate cortisol, as is exercise, meditation, optimal sleep and managing stress.
There many be a number of reasons your child is experiencing anxiety. Naturopathy offers a range of treatments to reduce their symptoms and improve their health and wellbeing.