Ever feel anxious but do not know why? A hormone called noradrenaline causes nervousness, a rapid heart rate, a sense of insecurity, and a feeling of fear that may be triggered in several different ways.
Understanding the different sources of anxiety may help people find the treatment answers that are best for each circumstance.
They all result in the release of noradrenaline so the physical reaction to each kind of anxiety is identical.
The first source of anxiety is when someone is confronted with a real and immediate danger. Noradrenaline is released in situations that are true threats to our survival, like being tied to the railroad tracks when there is an oncoming train.
This source of anxiety is a survival mechanism causing us to react to real danger in our presence.
The second source of anxiety may occur in situations when someone perceives that they are in danger and their body releases noradrenaline but they are, in fact, safe.
This is a kind of anxiety that psychologists and psychiatrists may help someone understand and work through to change their response to those situations. An unfounded fear of birds might be an example of this.
The third source of abnormal anxiety comes from direct damage to cells within the portion of the brain that normally regulates anxiety, the amygdala. The amygdala can be damage in physical injuries to the skull such as car accidents, falls, or the concussive blast that is associated with explosives.
The amygdala may also be damaged from intense emotional experiences and is a necessary component in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some relief may be found in low doses of Acetyl L-Carnitine, an over-the-counter supplement that increases the production of reparative stem cells in the brain.
The fourth source of abnormal anxiety comes from an imbalance of intestinal bacteria called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Our own gut bacteria migrate into the wrong section of our intestines.
This may occur when something alters the speed of our digestive tract such as antacids, antibiotics, anesthesia, vaccines, or as a result of Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction (Dysautonomia).
SIBO is a condition that is estimated to affect up to 75% of the population but many people with SIBO report no intestinal symptoms. Others with SIBO experience intestinal distress (diarrhea, constipation, eat-and-must-go to the bathroom ASAP, excessive bloating), food sensitivities/intolerance, night sweats, morning nausea, sour stomach or “low blood sugar” between meals, skin problems (rashes, hives, eczema), and recurrent strep and bladder infections.
Intestinal bacteria alter how the nervous system functions through five different pathways and is also a capable of triggering the release of anxiety-provoking noradrenaline.
SIBO is the major cause of anxiety when someone has a “nervous stomach”. Many of us have had intestinal symptoms before an anxiety-producing event such as public speaking or getting on an airplane.
The phrase “nervous stomach” implies the stress of the situation causes anxiety which in turn causes diarrhea. But studies suggest that the opposite is happening; the stressful situation alters the gut bacteria, and the bacteria trigger the release of norepinephrine leading to anxiety.
In other words, one experiences a “stomach nervous” instead of a “nervous stomach”. SIBO-driven anxiety is reversible in adults with a short course of medication called rifaximin and is reversible in kids with an OTC pre-biotic fiber called Inulin that one may buy from a variety of manufacturers in both powder or gummy forms.
The fifth source of abnormal anxiety is a mechanical problem leading to the inadequate flow of oxygen and blood flow into the brain when sitting or standing upright. This is a gravitational problem and is the consequence of Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction.
Two quick tests for this type of anxiety are to see if the anxiety feelings improve after laying flat for 10 to 15 minutes, or after exercising. If the answer is yes to either, Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction might be a source of the anxiety.
True anxiety stressors, like not enough money to pay bills or family holiday fights, do not improve when laying down or during exercise. Fortunately, anxiety from Autonomic Dysfunction can be diagnosed in a doctor’s office and reversed without long term prescriptions.
The Autonomic Nervous System is how the brain controls and coordinates the function of the entire body though a system comprised of nerve impulses, hormone surges, and cellular responses.
This includes the brain’s ability to control heart rate, blood pressure, produce stress hormones, and maintain perfect cerebral blow flood upwards to the brain against gravity no matter what the body is doing.
The Autonomics may be injured and not function correctly after a (1) physical injury (concussion, car wreck, childbirth), (2) emotional event (an emotionally traumatic event, bullying, loss of a loved one), (3) metabolic or inflammatory event (excessive vaccine reaction, chemotherapy, radiation, heat stroke), or (4) by SIBO that interferes with Autonomic function.
The brain has about a one second supply of reserve oxygen, and it panics if the Autonomic Nervous System is not able to deliver the perfect flow of blood and oxygen upwards against gravity.
The primitive brain perceives the inadequate delivery of oxygen as a lethal threat, and does whatever is necessary to normalize the delivery of oxygen, including producing noradrenaline.
When someone lays down flat or does exercise, they give their brain a temporary boost of blood and oxygen, and they feel less anxious because the brain is no longer starving for oxygen.
A temporary boost of blood and oxygen may also come from eating salt, carbohydrates, or sugars that trick us into a false diagnosis of “low blood sugar” or feeling the irresistible need to snack between meals.
Another temporary boost comes from consuming sodas or other high carb/sugary drinks, foot tapping and leg bouncing, or smoking nicotine. Some people’s chronic hunger or thirst, hyperactivity, or nicotine addictions may just be an unconscious reaction to an unresolved Autonomic injury.
There are five stages in Autonomic Dysfunction and the first two stages do not have noticeable symptoms. It is only in the third stage of Autonomic Dysfunction that people start to experience symptoms that affect their daily life like anxiety, GI trouble, sleep trouble, headaches, temperature regulation problems, or dizziness.
Early Autonomic Dysfunction detection gives patients the opportunity to reverse the damage and prevent future complications such as headaches, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression.
In patients already experiencing symptoms of Autonomic Dysfunction or who have already been diagnosed with a chronic disease, regular Autonomic or HRV monitoring helps measure their recovery, lowers their risk of premature death, improves their response to therapies or situations when the Autonomics are artificially suppressed (while under anesthesia), and helps get them off medications that mask their symptoms but do nothing to cure their problems.
Autonomic Dysfunction does not appear on an MRI, CT scans, and it is not detected in yearly bloodwork. For over 10 years I have tested the Autonomics using spectral analysis to pinpoint the tone and balance of each of the Autonomic Nervous System’s two main branches, the Sympathetic (“fight or flight”) and the Parasympathetic (“rest and digest”). I also use Heart Rate Variability (HRV) testing as a marker for Autonomic function and recovery.
Groundbreaking bioelectrical work is now being done within the field of Autonomics and the stimulation of the Vagus Nerve that I believe will completely transform modern medicine and make many prescriptions obsolete in our lifetime.
I use Vagal Nerve stimulation in my medical practice, and I have discovered a multifaceted formula for Autonomic restoration that is so unique and effective that I recently filed a patent application for it. It is The Nemechek Protocol for Autonomic Recovery (Patent Pending).
I am a classically trained internal medicine physician (D.O.) from UCLA and my Internal Medicine and Autonomic practice is in the Phoenix area. My research background has been focused on the Autonomic Nervous System, brain metabolism, and metabolic inflammation.
I use all available scientific and medical tools to induce the nervous system and organs to repair themselves by normalizing inflammation control mechanisms, inducing natural stem cell production, and re-activating innate restorative mechanisms.
Fixing the brain, to fix the body, takes persistent effort by the patient but I have seen Autonomic injuries and anxiety recover years or decades after the person’s trauma or event. This is where hope can be found because it is never too late to improve one’s health.
If you or someone you know experiences abnormal anxiety, be aware that the Autonomics, SIBO, or damaged neurons may be to blame for the noradrenaline. Understanding that anxiety may be a mechanical, bacterial, or cellular damage issue may help people finally find the treatment modality that addresses their specific type.
Thankfully there are both traditional medications and naturally based solutions for all three types of abnormal anxiety.
© 2016. Dr. Patrick M. Nemechek and Jean R. Nemechek. All Rights Reserved. Patent Pending.