Xanax or Probiotics? How to Control Anxiety

Xanax or probiotics — which would you prefer to take for anxiety? When I say anxiety, we’ve all had anxiety. We get in certain situations that are unfamiliar to us. We can get a little nervous, a little uneasy — that’s normal. But what about anxiety that’s present every day and that builds up in excess for situations that really shouldn’t cause you anxiety? This is not uncommon, especially when we all live in a more stressful world than we ever have in the past. Sometimes, anxiety becomes so significant that it actually manifests into full-blown panic disorders. Again, if I say to you, you have an option of a medication such as Xanax or probiotics, can we really get the same effect from a probiotic that we can from Xanax? I’m here to make the argument you may not get it as fast, but you may get more long-term —and here’s the important part— more consistent effects on controlling your anxiety with probiotics than you get with Xanax.

The Untold Xanax Story

What is Xanax? Xanax falls into a class of medications called benzodiazepines. The main effect of this group of medications is that they slow down brain activity. They slow down the effects of the central nervous system and make things work at a slower pace than what they would otherwise. Makes sense, especially when you think about anxiety. As the body being more ramped up with anxiety, we’re going to calm the body back down, so as to have the opposite effect. However, these medications are not without their side effects (scroll down the page link to see the numerous side effects). Let me go through a couple with you just so you have a better understanding. These medications can cause drowsiness. They can cause insomnia. Most of the time, we think about insomnia as being awake but paradoxically, it can have the opposite effect and can actually promote that. Again, drowsiness, dizziness, memory problems, and the brain not firing fast enough can be side effects of Xanax. We can also have the problems or side effects that we may associate with the use of alcohol. Alcohol is known to be a suppressant of the activity of the central nervous system. The types of effects that I’m talking about here are slurred speech and loss of balance. These are things that we tend to think about with over-utilization and also long-term utilization in Xanax users. These symptoms can also present in scenarios when someone is a little more sensitive to the medication or the dose is not accurately being utilized for that particular individual.

Xanax or Probiotics – You Have a Choice

I tell you all that to simply say that you have an option to it. That option is, believe it or not, probiotics. Probiotics — the simple, little bacteria that we harbor in our gastrointestinal tract are what we’re talking about here. The first thing you have to appreciate about these micro-organisms is that we have a very commensal, mutually beneficial, relationship with these organisms. There is some give-and-take here. We give them nourishment through the different foods that we consume. In turn, they give us different nutrients and chemicals that benefit our body. For example, they provide B vitamins for us. All of the B vitamins in certain percentages come from the probiotics. They provide vitamin K. They provide the fatty acid call conjugated linoleic acid. That fatty acid is anti-inflammatory and helps promote weight loss.

Probiotic Benefit that Mimics Xanax, And Is Dramatically Better Long-Term

Relative to our conversation, the most important thing that probiotics produce is GABA. GABA is the primary neuro-inhibitory transmitter. What I mean by that is it is the primary chemical that is going to calm the brain back down. Think about where we started our conversation. We began talking about anxiety. Anxiety is the state of over-activity in the brain, too much excitatory activity. We want to counter that by bringing it back down. The way that we find that balance is we bring the excitatory state down by bringing up the inhibitory activity through the action of GABA. Now, you can use a medication that does that but then again, it has side effects. Or, you can take probiotics and repopulate your gastrointestinal tract. These probiotics are going to inherently make GABA for you.

There is a very well-established connection now between our gastrointestinal tract and our brain. This is just one of the mechanisms by which our GI tract has direct influence on our brain. If we don’t have good colonies of probiotics, then we’re not getting good GABA production. Without good GABA production, our brains have the tendency to become more excitatory, or wound up. The more excitatory they lean, then the more likely we are to succumb to the effects of chronic stress. That leads us into anxiety, being a little more apprehensive about different scenarios that we may find ourselves in and even can getting to the point of having a full-blown panic attack, which nobody wants to have to deal with.

The Long Term Solution

Here’s what you have to think on this. May I need Xanax to help me get out of an emergency situation? Absolutely! It’s a medication. That’s what medications are designed for. If you have a crisis or acute scenario, use the medication. Listen, these medications are not meant to be long-term fixes. Your long-term fix comes back to the probiotics and the things that you do to support the health of these probiotics. The Paleo diet does a great job of nourishing the probiotics so that they can enhance GABA production. The food you take in, the foods you avoid in your diet, the amount of stress that you try to reduce overall — those are all directly going to influence your probiotics.

You have an option. If you’re trying to balance your brain chemistry, keep the anxiety and keep the panic disorders under control, short term — maybe you need the meds, maybe you don’t; long term — you have to think probiotics.

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