Anxiety Disorders
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What are the causes of anxiety? There are common causes such as stress, injury, or chronic pain, but did you know that imbalances in the system may also elicit these indicators? Functional medicine can help you get to the root cause of anxiety by finding links between many factors including nutritional deficiencies and anxiety.

Traditional view of anxiety

The traditional perspective on anxiety is simplistic indeed --you have a neurotransmitter imbalance, and you want a medicine to restore that equilibrium. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it does not. But in any event, that medication does nothing to re-establish equilibrium. Its job is to suppress those uncomfortable symptoms.

See: Ashwagandha benefits for anxiety

Functional medicine approach for anxiety

There is another approach to treating depression and anxiety: Functional Medicine. While standard treatment often includes prescription drugs and counseling or treatment, the imbalances that cause depression and anxiety are usually never addressed. This means most patients coping with these problems are left with no alternative but to keep on taking prescriptions for symptoms that never appear to go away. The functional medicine approach to stress provides you with some tools that will assist you in managing your symptoms, and maybe even kick the anxiety permanently. This is the way anxiety can be addressed at its root cause.



See: Probiotics benefits for digestive health

Common root causes of stress

Many people suffer from a high level of anxiety these days. Anxiety spares no one. There may be one or multiple root causes for anxiety.


1. How HPA Axis Issues May Impact Anxiety

What controls our reaction to anxiety and stress? It is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and is the reason why we fight, takes flight, or freeze when threatened with danger. It's a really good method for evading tigers, but in today's modern world, we have what's known as an evolutionary mismatch. Basically, your mind and body evolved to survive in very different times.  Check for SIBO, parasites, fungal overgrowth, dysbiosis, and inflammation is an excellent step to take if you are experiencing anxiety. 

 This is where the human body and your surroundings can collide to create stress. Modern stressors are not typically the type to kill us. But what happens if there is chronic activation of the stress system? There is a change in the production of cortisol, pregnenolone, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone),  and even progesterone. This, in turn, changes our hormones. Stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine can light up the brain, which progesterone supports gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that puts a halt to the panic. This is one situation that may result in anxiety.

But it is not just mental or psychological stress that could interrupt the HPA axis. Inflammation stemming from chronic illness, hormone imbalances, infections, and much more can make a disturbance in the HPA axis. And as the system gets more out of balance, inflammation climbs, making a vicious cycle that could keep you in a state of panic.

2. Gut Health & Your Mood

In Functional Medicine, "fire in the gut implies fire in the brain." If your gut is inflamed, chances are your brain may be too.

Diseases such as SIBO, bacterial dysbiosis, parasites, yeast overgrowth, and H. pylori can be one cause of inflammation. Intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut) and food sensitivities are also a source of inflammation. Your gut makes serotonin. About 400 times more dopamine is found in your gut than your brain. Therefore it might appear that your gut might be the heart of neurotransmitter synthesis rather than your mind. That can make sense when you see that when you heal a person's gut, their mood gets better.

3. Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies are quite common and may be one of the factors. For those who have a digestive issue that's compromising your ability to absorb nutrients, then you are at higher risk. Adhering to a restrictive diet of any type for a long time, be it veganism, vegetarianism, keto, or autoimmune routine, as an instance, can put you at risk for deficiencies. In case you have anxiety, it's always important to examine whether your diet is working for your health or if your diet is in need of some fine-tuning to satisfy your current needs.

If you are taking a nutrient depleting medication such as the birth control pill, then you are at a heightened risk for nutrient deficiencies. Medicine that blocks acid, like PPIs and Tums, in addition to those used in diabetics, may produce nutrient deficiencies that may manifest as anxiety and depression also.

 Nutrients such as DHA, EPA, B6, omega-3 fatty acids, Inositol, folate, B12, copper, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D have an immediate effect on mood and have been common deficiencies in people. Furthermore, if you have some problems with protein absorption, then you are likely to be deficient that the amino acids that your body needs to make neurotransmitters.

See: What Causes Anxiety and Natural Remedies To Help

Functional Medicine remedies for anxiety

1. Heal Your Gut: Natural medication and lifestyle physicians work with people in developing a treatment protocol that's specific to their unique needs. Additionally, it is important to start with lab testing to produce a more targeted treatment program, which may also ensure healing isn't delayed. Working with a licensed practitioner who knows the value of functional and conventional laboratory testing can interpret them in combination with your requirements.

2. Meditate: You don't have to practice yoga or have a mat. Just close your eyes for 5-10 minutes each day and focus on your breath. Feel the inhaling and exhaling process completely. Spend a few minutes away from whatever it is that is causing you to feel the anxiety. For next-level service, think about a Muse meditation apparatus. This device can help you master meditation at a fraction of the time, so you start reaping the benefits quickly.

3. Be Present: Have a moment to check around you, and with no judgment, take everything in. This is the practice of meditation and mindfulness. Meditation and being present in the moment can help reduce anxiety, tension, and even depression. Spending even 5-10 minutes each day to simply observe the life that surrounds you can help bring desirable calm.

4. Move Your Body: Even if it's a walk around the park, physical activity will let you release tension in the body, improve oxygen to your brain and counter what that horrible stress hormone, cortisol, is doing to your body. 

5. Reinforce Circadian Rhythm: This is the natural sleep and wake cycle your adrenals and disposition love.  Expose yourself to organic light upon waking. Wear amber glasses two hours before bed. This may drop cortisol and increase melatonin, what your body needs to do at this moment. Sleep in a totally dark room. No light. No exceptions.

6. Have Laboratory Testing: Comprehensive Stool Analysis, Intestinal permeability (assess Leaky Gut), Food sensitivity testing, Parasitology (O&Px3), H. pylori breath test, Lactulose breath evaluation (evaluate SIBO)

As soon as you've determined the health of your gut, you may understand which therapies are essential to assist you in healing.

7, Remove Stressors

Identify and eliminate any stressors that could be leading to poor gut health. Here are two significant areas I suggest that you start with.

8. Stop unnecessary medications: Eliminate NSAIDs, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), unnecessary antibiotics, and birth control. Speak with your doctor before quitting meds.

 9. Remove Life Stressors: As mentioned previously, chronic stress can actually change the makeup of your microbiome. Additionally, it disrupts the HPA-axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal), which affects pretty much all of the hormones in the body.

10. Add Probiotics to Your Diet: This is a superb way to start getting some valuable bacteria going on your gut! Raw, cultured, organic vegetables such as pickles, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables such as beets and carrots can foster the growth of good bacteria in the gut. In the event of SIBO or yeast overgrowth, we avoid these foods until the disease is resolved. Lots of the bacteria in your gut create chemical messengers called neurotransmitters that regulate feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and anxiety. The Bacillus bacteria species creates mood-regulating neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, while the Escherichia bacteria species produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and anxiety, according to a December 2014 review from the Journal of Medicinal Food. When your gut microbiome gets thrown out of equilibrium, the production of these hormones can be affected, and anxiety may result. So to lower your anxiety, consider beginning with balancing this microbiome. Probiotics (gut-friendly bacteria found in food, beverages, and supplements that also reside in the body) can help you change your microbiome back into equilibrium.

11. Eat gut-healthy foods: Along with adding probiotics to your daily diet, you can make a healthy, balanced microbiome by focusing on getting more of those foods that your gut enjoys (e.g., fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods), and less of what it does not (e.g., sugar, alcohol, processed foods). To keep your gut healthy, cut back on foods that interrupt your gut microbiomes, such as high-sugar candies and bread, alcohol, dairy, gluten, and processed meats. Replace these foods with fruits, vegetables, lean animal proteins, legumes, and nuts and seeds.

12. Adopt a whole foods diet: In addition to optimizing gut absorption and health, you will also have to concentrate on a nutrient-dense diet. 

 13. Green tea: Choose green tea instead of coffee. The L-theanine amino acid is present in green tea can promote a feeling of calm. If you are feeling more anxious with java or between meals, go for some green tea.

 14. L-theanine can also be typically taken at a dose of 200 mg twice daily in supplement form.

15. Consider CBD: This won't get you high. Instead, it's been shown to reduce inflammation and nervousness. If you are beginning CBD, then the dose should be low. Some assert the consistency and frequency are more important than attaining high doses of CBD, but there are individuals who report improved symptoms with higher single dose CBD.

See: Panchakarma


Functional Medicine evaluates all elements of wellness, including the brain, body, and spiritual elements. Where malfunction is determined, we work to correct those imbalances. Dietary changes, such as a decrease in the consumption of sugars and processed foods, may lead to dramatic changes in both physical and psychological wellbeing. Healing anxiety through Functional Medicine removes the requirement for pharmaceutical management of your disposition. Finding the root cause and treating it can take some time, but you'll have the ability to find relief sooner rather than later.

See: Ayurveda for anxiety relief

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