Mental Health

Exploring Nutrition and Supplements to Help Lower Stress and Anxiety

Posted on October 10, 2011. Filed under: Mental Health |

October 10th is World Mental Health Awareness Day and Blogging for Mental Health Day

Throughout my personal journey to mental wellness, I research information that’s outside of the conventional realm.  Several years ago, I was fortunate to hear of an educational series sponsored by NAMI and Safe Harbor  It truly changed the way I viewed options available for overcoming anxiety and other mental health disorders.

The two speakers, Dr. Nancy Mullan ofBurbank,Californiaand Professor Jim Croxton fromSanta MonicaCollegewere amazing.  When I share this story told by Professor Croxton, my wish is that it will start a shift in the way you view achieving mental wellness.

Professor Croxton told the audience that when his daughter turned 14, she started displaying symptoms of a mental health condition.  The symptoms worsened so the Croxton’s took their daughter for a psychiatric evaluation.  The diagnosis was devastating.  They were told that their daughter had developed severe schizophrenia and would most likely have to be institutionalized for most of her life if the symptoms could not be managed.  After visiting several other psychiatrists, the diagnosis was the same.  Then a family friend told the Croxton’s about another option.

Their friend suggested that they take their daughter to a nutritional specialist and have her tested for food and mold allergies.  Feeling that they had nothing to lose, they followed this advice and the news was amazing.  Their daughter had a condition called Celiac Disorder, which is an extreme allergy to wheat and gluten.  After just seven days of a wheat and gluten-free diet, their daughter’s symptoms diminished and thereafter disappeared completely.

Much of the information I am sharing comes from books by Julia Ross, The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure.  Gary Null also has books on nutrition to reduce stress and anxiety.  Good Food, Good Mood is one of them.  The Mood Cure is one of my favorite reference books.

Disclaimer:  If you are taking medications, are pregnant or nursing, please consult with your physician or practitioner before beginning a supplement or remedy protocol.

What Feeds the Body, Feeds the Brain

Rather than going into information overload, I’m providing a brief overview of each topic.  If there is any topic on which you would like me to expand, e-mail me and contact information is on my website.

Supplements and Remedies 101

5-HTP and GABA (gamma-amino-butric acid) are two of the many amino acids needed by the body.  “Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They band together in chains to form the stuff from which your life is born. Think of amino acids as Legos for your life.  The essential amino acids must be ingested every day. Failure to get enough of even one of the 10 essential amino acids can result in protein degradation. The human body simply does not store amino acids for later use, as it does with fats and starches.”  (Source:

These amino acids help naturally increase serotonin levels in the brain.  “In theUnited Kingdom, standard psychiatric practice calls for the addition of tryptophan when SSRI’s or other antidepressants don’t work well.”  (Source: Pharmacological choices after one antidepressant fails: “A survey ofUKpsychiatrists.”  Book:  The Mood Cure.)

The United Kingdom, in my opinion, is more advanced when it comes to the use of psychiatric medications.  Visit to learn more.

As this information shows, amino acids have many uses.  They can help some achieve relief from stress and anxiety without medication, boost properties of current medication and they can also help minimize withdrawal symptoms when tapering off medication.  “You must get professional advice about how to taper off… Consult with a physician, pharmacist … a professional who really knows the ropes to advise you and your doctor.”  (Source: The Mood Cure.)

Visit to learn more about amino acid therapy.

If you are interested in more detail about any of the information contained in this blog, please e-mail me.  Contact information is on my website.

Calms by Hyland’s

“Hyland’s Calms Tablets provide needed relief to symptoms related to nervousness, nervous exhaustion and stress. Many testimonials praise its soothing and calming effect in the face of life’s every-day stresses.”  Hyland’s has other products like Calms Forte as a natural sleep aid and products formulated especially for children.

How do Flower Remedies work?

Flower essences are water-based solutions which contain the essential energies of flowers. They are made by floating flowers in water and allowing the light of the sun (or in some cases the moon or stars) to help the water absorb the energy signature of the flowers. The structure of the water molecule is such that it can store these energies.

When a person places a few drops of a flower essence under the tongue, the energy of the flower floods one’s aura, vibrating at its own special frequency, and can nudge the vibrations in a person’s aura toward their own frequency. This creates an immediate effect on the emotional and spiritual levels of the aura.

Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower Remedies)

Note:  Both Calms and Flower Remedies such as Rescue Remedy are formulated for adults, children and animals.  There are 38 remedies and you can read about the properties of each one to find the right remedy for you.

El Sereno Essences Flower Remedies

El Sereno Essences are similar to Bach Flower Remedies.  Reading the properties of the essences guides you to which one would work best for each individual situation.

To read more about my story, please visit my website at

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for your general information only. Karen does not give medical advice or engage in the practice of medicine. Karen under no circumstances recommends particular treatment for specific individuals and in all cases recommends that you consult your physician or local treatment center before pursuing any course of treatment.


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Anxiety Disorder – The Basics of Seeking Treatment

Posted on September 14, 2011. Filed under: Mental Health |

Currently statistics show that over 40 million adults live with some type of anxiety disorder.  Most of these adults are women.  That’s the grim news.  The great news is that, out of all the mental health disorders documented, anxiety disorder is the most treatable and manageable.  About 30% of people seek help.  Stigmas surrounding mental health disorders prevent the other 70% from seeking help.

Living with a Mental Health Disorder is Nothing about which Anyone Should Feel Shame or Embarrassment

I’ve been in wellness from Panic Disorder since June 2002 after living with the disorder for thirty years.  For many years, I kept silent because I was afraid of what others would think about me.  How could I possibly explain to someone what I was feeling when I wasn’t always sure myself.  When I mustered up the courage to share my story, I felt so much lighter.  I felt I no longer had to do this all alone.

If you are living with an anxiety disorder, it may help if you begin to tell your story to people with whom you feel comfortable and people who will offer support.  Only share when you are ready and choose with whom to share.

Rule Out Possible Medical Causes

Have a complete check-up and have blood tests run to make sure that conditions such as an over-active thyroid, mold or other allergies like Celiac Disorder (Gluten Allergy) are not present.  Conditions such as these can mimic anxiety symptoms.  Have a Cardiac Risk Panel included in the blood tests as well.

Developing Your Personal Strategy for Your Journey of Mental Wellness

Speaking from experience, I feel working with a wonderful, caring therapist is critical when it comes to developing your wellness strategy.  You must feel safe and comfortable when it comes to discussing topics that may be uncomfortable for you at first.  Although it may seem time consuming to interview therapists in the beginning, it pays off later.  It saves someone from having to change therapists often when the therapist they are working with isn’t working for them.  People with anxiety disorder sometimes experience fear when it comes to “firing” a therapist.

Here is a list to get you started and you can add any questions that you feel relate specifically to you:

  1. If the therapist has a website, read it thoroughly to find out about how they treat anxiety disorders.  Do they help clients learn techniques like Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Neurolinguistic Programming?  I find that “talk therapy” alone isn’t always effective.  It’s helpful if you are given tools to practice on a daily basis.
  1. Does the therapist primarily use conventional techniques or are they versed in complimentary techniques such as hypnotherapy or Energy Psychology Techniques?  (I will go into more detail about these techniques in my next blog.)
  1. Is the therapist willing to offer you a complimentary phone consultation for ten or fifteen minutes?  I believe that if the therapist is confident about their abilities, they should be willing to do this for you.  One should not have to spend money just to interview a therapist.
  1. Is the therapist willing to address immediate needs first rather than following the older medical model of multiple sessions before addressing the immediate need?  I find that people with anxiety disorders usually don’t have the time or patience for multiple sessions when they have an immediate issue that is affecting their daily life.  I know that was true for me.
  1. If you are not seeing any reduction in symptoms after four sessions, you need to address this with the therapist.  Remember, this is not the time to worry about hurting the therapists’ feelings.  It’s about finding the right therapist for you.  If you are not getting results and the therapist is not open to discussion about other options, it may be time to re-evaluate and possibly consider finding someone else.


I must preface this by saying that I am not anti-medication but rather anti-education.  When considering a medication, do your homework.  Visit different websites and read about the pros and cons of the medication meaning; results vs. side effects.  The list of medications being prescribed for anxiety disorders are increasing and include anti-anxiety meds, anti-depressants, anti-convulsive meds and anti-psychotics.  I really listen to the commercials when it comes to a new medication and the list of side effects keeps getting longer and longer.  Some studies support that sometimes the side effects out way the benefits of a medication but that is something that has to be decided by each individual.

My next blog will also address CAM– Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, which includes Body Energy Work, Nutritional Medicine for Psychiatric Disorders, Energy Psychology Techniques and others.  Many CAM tools and techniques may help people manage their anxiety symptoms.  I have found that most conventional doctors either aren’t familiar with CAM or are reluctant to discuss them.

I’m fortunate.  As conventional as my Nurse Practitioner is, she is very open minded when I choose to use CAM. Conventional as long as what I am dealing with is not life threatening.  For example, I have experienced slightly higher levels of cholesterol and my blood pressure has been elevated.  My N.P. wanted to put me on meds but I asked her if I could “go natural” for three months and have my blood work re-done.  She agreed.  She knows I see a Holistic Practitioner and respects it.  I appreciate that about her.

In closing, I want all who read this blog to know, to have faith, that this disorder is treatable and manageable.  I share my story so others don’t have to wait as long to find mental health and wellness.  Always remember that Mental Wellness is Achievable when you take charge.

To read more about my story, please visit my website at

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for your general information only. Karen Muranko does not give medical advice or engage in the practice of medicine. Karen under no circumstances recommends particular treatment for specific individuals and in all cases recommends that you consult your physician or local treatment center before pursuing any course of treatment.

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