8 ways to unwind quickly

By Francine van Broekhoven

I received a fantastic newsletter from Suzy Cohen this week. She is a pharmacist with a good view of what our body needs. I enjoyed translating this letter for you.

Everyone feels stress or even shock when you hear bad news. You may even get your hormones and neurotransmitters out of balance, so you keep that nasty nervous feeling all the time. Sweaty palms and panic attacks are sometimes part of this.

If you are prone to anxiety, this writing is a resource that can help before taking prescriptions.

Millions of prescriptions are issued annually for anti-anxiety medications such as alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and lorazepam (Ativan). These agents are in the category of benzodiazepines and they have severe withdrawal symptoms. Many of you will just want to relax and enjoy more peace of mind without these drugs. And you may be taking these medications daily. Here I’m going to show you 8 ways to calm down quickly.

Breathe – You may think this is silly to mention, but it’s number one on my list because when you’re anxious your breathing becomes shallow. During times of stress, be aware of your breathing and make sure you breathe in longer than you breathe out. The inhalation is a gift to yourself, hold it for a second or two and then exhale. Do it five times, preferably with your eyes closed, as that will put you directly into alpha.



Lavender – They make pure lavender rollers these days. If you can’t find it, just keep a small bottle of essential oil nearby or in your bag. Sniff it and put some on your wrists for instant effect. You can also use this to sleep well. Lavender tea is another idea.

Rescue Remedy is a combination of 5 floral extracts including the Star of Bethlehem, known to help with trauma and shock. You can carry this little bottle with you or keep it in your bag. Put a few drops in your mouth (or in your bottle of water) a day.

California Poppy Extract (nightcap) – This is a great anti-anxiety agent and is also sometimes used for children who have ADD or bedwetting. You can buy it in drop form and is easy to find in health food stores and online. One of the active compounds is Eschscholzia californica, which has been shown to promote catecholamines in the brain and make you feel better over a period of time. Some can make you a bit sleepy.

Magnesium – This is a natural mineral that is abundant in leafy vegetables and edible seaweeds. Numerous studies show that there is a relationship with low magnesium levels and depression and / or anxiety. It acts quite quickly, especially the magnesium “threonate” form which has been clinically shown to penetrate brain tissue quickly. A double-blind placebo-controlled study examined women with PMS-related anxiety, mood swings, and nervous tension. The researchers combined 200 mg of magnesium with 50 mg of vitamin B6 and gave it to the women for a month. It helped some of the women, but not all.

Passion Flower – Also known as Passiflora incarnata, this herb is great for quickly calming anxiety, helping you sleep and reducing seizures. It increases GABA (an acid in the brain) that relaxes. This may not be strong enough so you should take it in combination with other herbs such as valerian and lemon balm. Sometimes holistic practices recommend low doses of passionflower in the days and hours leading up to surgery. It is very calming and does not seem to affect recovery from anesthesia. Ask your surgeon (or doctor) and do not attempt this on your own as it may react with anesthetic drugs due to its sedative effect. A study has been done with people who had “generalized anxiety disorder” these people have been tested with passion flower, and it was found to be just as effective as the benzodiazepine oxazepam (Serax).

In fact, valerian is the natural valium, at least for most people. Sometimes people get a paradoxical effect, and it causes restlessness and insomnia, but most people become relaxed and even sleepy. Depending on the brand, Valerian has a natural and strong (and unpleasant) scent, but don’t let that stop you from using it. Valerian has been used for sedation and anxiety for thousands of years. It is sold in all possible forms: tea, extracts, pills and much more.


Lemon balm comes from the mint family. Hubby sometimes takes this at night to help him sleep. The herb has great properties and also for your gut health. And so the added benefit is that lemon balm can help with an upset stomach, digestion and bloating.