This is the message I give to patients seeking treatment for anxiety and panic.
Since most of these people have been told for years that “you should just stop worrying”, and that the pains they feel in their belly are really in their head, they are often surprised and relieved to discover that there is a physical driver which underlies these problems.
Since most people who suffer from this condition have educated themselves about it, and often sought psychological help in the past (often with little benefit), they are surprised to learn that treatment is generally straight forward and not tied in deeply with childhood traumas or poor parenting.
It does not take them long to see the sense in the argument that there is a physiological cause to their problem and to committing themselves to a cure. Chronic anxiety and panic are always related to stress. Generally the major component of this stress is not psychological but physical.
These individuals are reacting to toxic elements in their environment which are producing an “allergic” reaction. These elements are most likely to be food related, but may also include molds, pollen and other environmental toxins. Once these elements are discovered and either eliminated from the person’s diet or environment, or successfully treated, the anxiety and panic generally fade.
This concept of an allergic reaction is easy for anxiety sufferers to understand. People with anxiety often have many formally diagnosed allergies, which are suppressed through medication. These individuals will also report that their panic attacks are often worse during periods of greatest allergic sensitivity (when the house is closed up: mold, or in the spring and fall: pollen).
Furthermore the symptoms of anxiety and panic are the same as the symptoms of an allergic response: increased heart rate, shallow breathing, sweating, trembling or shaking, dizziness, nausea, tingling in the hands and feet, chills or hot flushes .
The reason these are perceived by the individual as anxiety rather than an allergy is because they cannot find a direct cause. They are not used to considering the effects of what they eat or smelled recently as possible causative events.
Sufferers are further confused because the “anxiety” response may not develop until minutes or even hours after ingesting the substance, and even then, the “anxiety” response might not occur reliably each time the person is exposed to a given allergen.
Stressors are Additive.
Our bodies are equipped to deal with a certain load of toxins. This is the major function of the liver, kidneys, spleen and gallbladder. It is only when this natural system becomes overwhelmed that symptoms emerge. It is also likely that a person may be suffering from more than one toxin at a time.
Most people are sensitive to multiple substances such as dairy, wheat and mold for example. A person’s body can deal with a certain level of dairy and wheat so long as the level of mold is low. When the body must deal with higher levels of mold, dairy and wheat will provoke an anxiety reaction.
Stress is Stress is Stress.
This situation is further complicated by the fact that our bodies cannot discriminate between physiologic and psychological stress. This fact has been amply demonstrated experimentally. The result is that as our psychological stress increases, our physiological tolerance decreases.
Physical stressors which previously would have been manageable become overwhelming because of the demands we are making of our bodies to deal with psychological stress. For this reason it is important to treat both the physiological and psychological stressors which manifest in anxiety. From the psychological point of view, this generally takes the form of treating traumas and the traumatic effects of panic. This will be discussed further below.
What Is An Allergy?
An allergy is a mistake made by the immune system, in which the immune system reacts to a neutral substance as if it were harmful to the body. Because of this mistake, the body attacks this substance (and itself) in an attempt to regain health. This often results in watery eyes, runny nose, constricted breathing, increased heart rate, etc. It can also result in other less well known symptoms such as rashes, swelling of the skin and even swelling in the brain.
Chronic allergies can also lead to more profound problems with the heart, liver and others organs which are overworking in a mistaken attempt to clean the body of the offending substance. People can be “allergic” to almost anything, even to sunlight, heat or cold.
How Do You Know What You Are Allergic To?
An allergy diagnosis can take many forms. There is the traditional “prick” test done by most allergists in which a small amount of a substance is subdermally injected and any reaction is measured. This is quite painful for many people and not very useful to most anxiety sufferers because it tests only a few substances, ignores food allergies, and is based only on measuring the dermal reaction (which is not the only component of an allergy).
The Radioallergosorbent Test (RAST) is a blood test which looks at the antibodies in the blood to a wide range of substances. This test can be very helpful in finding the worst allergens. However, it is unknown to most medical doctors and can be quite expensive.
The Rotation Diet is also very effective but hard for many people. It involves reducing the foods eaten to a minimum (generally rice, water and a few vegetables) and slowly adding one food at a time and rating your reaction to it. This is the technique recommended by Doris Rapp, M.D. but is extremely cumbersome to complete.
The Pulse Test is another technique which can be effective. It is based on the fact that the presence of an allergy increases the heart rate. People who use this technique take their pulse before and after ingesting a substance. This can be very useful in isolating food allergies but is also very laborious.
Applied Kinesiology is my preferred method of allergy testing. Like Heart Rate Monitoring, it is based on the recognition that allergies cause physiological changes in the body. It has been shown that the presence of an allergen changes the tonus of the muscles in the body. This change in tonus can be easily tested by someone trained in Applied Kinesiology, and allergens can be diagnosed very reliably. There are many advantages to this technique, not the least of which is the ease with which a person can be re-tested after an allergy treatment to ensure treatment effectiveness.
How Do You Get Rid Of An Allergy?
Traditional medicine does not know how to eliminate an allergy. Their approach is either to suppress the symptoms through medication or to build the body’s tolerance to the substance through injections. Neither of these approaches are effective for anxiety sufferers who need to reduce the toxin load in their bodies, not just suppress symptoms. Successful allergy treatment is possible.
Neuro Linguistic Programming and Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique TM both have experimental support behind their treatment claims. Tapas Acupressure Technique TM and Allergy Antidotes TM, and Ask & Receive TM, also have a great deal of anecdotal support as effective allergy treatments. These techniques effectively (and quickly) retrain the body so that it will not inappropriately attack the formerly allergy producing substance.
These techniques can quickly and effectively eliminate allergies and reduce the underlying stress on the body. Some of them, especially Allergy Antidotes TM, and Ask & Receive TM, can be learned by the patient relatively easily and applied as new allergens are discovered. The down side of allergy treatment is that most people suffer from a number of allergies. As these are found and resolved the person’s health improves, but it can be frustrating when treatment takes several sessions before a dramatic change is noticed in the anxiety symptoms.
Treating the Psychological Component
Anxiety is not exclusively physical. It does have a strong psychological component. In general the treatment for anxiety is similar to brief treatment for psychological trauma. Anxiety disorders are generally acquired (in individuals with a preexisting sensitivity) through traumatic learning.
Some anxiety disorders can be traced to specific traumatic events which the person experienced. This could result from a single incident such as a car accident or assault, from several less traumatic incidents which combined to shape the anxiety response, or even from witnessing such incidents. Other times there is no evidence of trauma. In these cases the anxiety disorder appears to simply start for no known reason (though in retrospect this can usually be linked to toxins).
Whatever may have started it, the initial onset of the anxiety disorder is always experienced as traumatic. Those who have not experienced a panic attack or full blown anxiety have no idea how frightening and debilitating it can be. People with anxiety disorders quickly develop a profound fear of experiencing another attack.
In this way much of their life can become wrapped up in trying to avoid anxiety. The result is generally that as the worry increases, the number of anxiety attacks increase so the worry increases in a negative spiral.
This happens because the body responds to all stress in similar ways, and worry is processed by the body in the same way as other environmental stressors. In my practice I have found that treatments designed for treating trauma are the most effective at controlling anxiety and panic.
There are many effective methods for the rapid treatment of trauma; I have developed two treatments that I consider to be some of the most effective. These are the Releasing Technique TM, and Ask & Receive TM. Of the two, since Ask & Receive (which I developed along with Sandi Radomski, the originator of Allergy Antidotes, and my wife, Pam Altaffer) is designed to treat both allergies and trauma, it offers a double benefit.
Once an individual understands the physiological basis for anxiety, treatment is generally quite rapid. As toxic foods are avoided or treated for, the body becomes able to handle higher levels of stress. At the same time, the trauma which underlies the disorder can be treated in a variety of ways. In general these treatments work to reeducate the person’s body and subconscious so that they will respond differently to stressful stimuli.
There are quite a number of anti-anxiety medications on the market, both over-the-counter and by prescription. Most of those available by prescription are considered as “controlled substances” because of their addictiveness. The effect of these medications is to tranquilize or suppress the bodies’ normal stress response. The reason so many of these medications are addictive is because they do not treat the underlying cause, they only suppress the stress response.
The result is that stress (both environmental and psychological) can continue to grow, requiring ever greater amounts of suppressive medication. Most doctors and psychiatrists agree that anti-anxiety medication is only useful for short term management of overwhelming symptoms. In order to truly recover from anxiety and panic, the underlying causes must be found and healed.
Our bodies cannot discriminate between environmental and psychological stress. Effective treatment must focus on healing both causes of anxiety, namely allergies or sensitivities to environmental substances and psychological trauma. Successful treatment in both of these areas effectively reeducates the body, teaching it to respond appropriately to previously stressful events. This treatment is generally rapid and successful, allowing the formerly anxious individual to return quickly to a normal life.
I would love to hear about your comments and experiences below.
With Love and Gratitude,