Not all anxiety is due to magnesium deficiency. But a 2016 review of literature revealed that “the efficacy of magnesium in the treatment of anxiety in the mildly anxious and those reporting premenstrual-syndrome-related anxiety is suggestive of a beneficial effect of magnesium intake.” The flood of adrenaline occurring in the body during times of acute stress can cause feelings of anxiety and panic attacks. If the stress becomes chronic, the adrenal glands become depleted and a state of depression can result.

The adrenal glands produce stress hormones to help us manage life’s situations. One of the hormones is called norepinephrine. It acts like adrenaline but is for short-term stress. Cortisol is another. It is released in response to chronic stress and low blood sugar. Norepinephrine and cortisol both cause depletion of magnesium and can be active at the same time. Chronic stress can come from feeling insecure and threatened, from exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy metals, and even loud noise associated with industrial work settings. One of our daughters had extremely high cortisol levels that were eventually found to be caused by a tumor (adenoma) on her pituitary gland (Cushing’s disease) requiring brain surgery.

Anxiety or hyperexcitability in the brain is the result of brain neurons constantly firing. Calcium is the trigger mechanism causing the neurons to fire. Magnesium repels calcium and causes the neurons to calm down and stop firing. If there is not enough magnesium, the neurons continue to fire until the cell collapses and dies. Magnesium regulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of endocrine glands. Excitability of the nervous system and heart palpitations all depend on the calming effect of magnesium.

Chronic stress can lead to panic attacks and eventual depression. A myriad of psychological symptoms can develop that are rooted in a lack of nutrition. We are not deficient in Valium or Prozac. Something as simple as overcoming low levels of magnesium can radically alter our mood, attitudes and health. Unfortunately, instead of looking at dietary factors in psychiatric conditions, the pharmaceutical industry is fixated on serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to capitalize on serotonin’s chemical effects rather than giving serotonin what it actually needs–magnesium.

Dr. Carolyn Dean states, “SSRIs create artificially elevated levels of serotonin in the body by preventing its breakdown and elimination; serotonin lingers longer in the brain and theoretically causes mood elevation.” Only 40 percent of patients experience relief (about the same percentage as the placebo effect). The rest suffer varying side-effects that compound their problems and never relieve their suffering. Something as simple as supplementing with real magnesium could make all the difference.

For more information on the power of whole-food nutrition, see the Vitamins and Minerals chapters in my book.

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