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Exploring Anxiety through the Functional Medicine Lens: A Deep Dive for Practitioners


In today’s pandemic environment and beyond, it’s important that we are also focused on the potentially devastating effects of chronic anxiety.  Especially for the lionshare of our patients and clients who are not personally wrestling with infections, their underlying chronic disease dynamics are otherwise likely worsening behind the scenes of this pandemic.  Sustained uncertainty and fear precipitate and potentiate anxiety – on top of all the other contributors and root causes.

I recorded this video just a few months ago,  and I believe these information is even more CRITICAL now for ALL practitioner modalities.

Are you confident in etiology and intervention for Anxiety, as seen through the functional medicine lens?

Although you may already be a savvy practitioner, I am certain you will learn something new in this video. You’ll walk away with pages of notes and practical pearls you can use in your practice right away.

Here are some of the things we’ll be discussing:

  • We know it’s Not all in their head (but it Might all be in their gut).
  • What is THE number-one everyday thing that can resolve anxiety? (No, it’s not magnesium).
  • Which comes first: anxiety or disease? (the answer is Yes!)
  • How too many or too few neurotransmitters CAN indeed be a root cause! (But not nearly as often as you think).
  • Impairment of ________ can drive up anxiety all on its own. And be at the root of both chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. (Nope, we’re not talkin’ serotonin this time).
  • The Biggest pitfall in Black-and-White thinking that we see savvy practitioners’ trip into All the time!
  • Chronic stress. (Yep, we talk about it all the time. But do you Really understand what is happening on a detailed biochemical level?)
  • The three hormones imbalances that can – and do – promote Anxiety. Often.
  • The surprising nutrients that can either reduce or cause anxiety and how the same nutrient that supports lowering anxiety can also cause it (I’ve got a whole list; get Beyond magnesium!).
  • What’s on your clients’ and patients’ dinner plate could be the Biggest root cause of their anxiety (Yep, sugar is on the list, but it’s among other heavy hitters that may surprise you!)

Thank you very much for joining in the fun and learning!

With warmth, love, and gratitude to you for sharing your gifts with so many –

P.S. If you know that healthcare Must be transformed to be sustainable and effective, and you know in your heart that You have a calling to be a part of this movement for Healthcare transformation, we urge you to learn about our semester program.

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Click here in case you missed the first few minutes before tech hiccup

122 Questions for “Exploring Anxiety through the Functional Medicine Lens: A Deep Dive for Practitioners”

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  1. 116
    Miry L Makebish says:


    What stuck out to me the most was the comment about serotonin often being thought of as the deficiency in anxiety, when in fact it is not! Also that the patient/client would be more likely to have serotonin deficiency when taking SSRI is a very interesting point to think about. Appreciate your great presentation!

    Miry Makebish

  2. 115
    Marsha D Donaldson says:

    So many pearls! I actually went back and listened to it again. I have a client who goes to bed at 8pm, wakes up around 1am, drinks a cup of coffee. He then does chores or reads for a few hours and goes back to bed at 5am for 3 hours. He also suffers from anxiety. The anxiety is a recent symptom. I found it interesting that sleep deprivation (and probably quality of sleep) plays such a key role in anxiety. As always, great presentation! (Retired Clinical Laboratory Scientist, and now a Health Coach, using Biofeedback, Nutrition and Herbs)

  3. 114
    Reyana Alwani says:

    As always this was so full of juicy information. I really like the reality check to start that some depression is normal and expected for anybody. I am always amazed to learn more about the guy brain barrier and it’s vital to teach our clients how food and the thoughts we think are central to improving. As a health coach for woman in their 40’s who are dealing with teenagers and mood issues, the social media influence and the role of gratitude were useful, and real concepts to discuss. Thanks a lot.

  4. 113
    Anita Ray says:

    The reminder to start clients with simple steps was very helpful. I have many tools and suggestions that I want to share with clients and I’m excited to help. But I know from my own experience just how overwhelming everything feels when struggling with mood. I need to remember to go at the client’s pace. The good news is that I also know that it is totally possible to feel better when you apply a holistic approach.

  5. 112
    Coventry Mary Covey says:

    Excellent talk, biggest pearl would be the journaling. I have clients with migraines who are very sensitive to many medications and I think some of these medication raise the dopamine and norepinephrine levels. I’m assuming they do not have the ability to metabolize epinephrine. One patient in particular, her
    migraines are familial and anxiety and low level of depression present and her family also. CBD, all anti-depressants and TCAs cause migraines. This one patient in particular has significant ADHD and all the medicines for that caused her migraines. I have not heard of the comp T or calm T. Would this in part be the reason for her anxiety and her migraines both? And how can I help her? Prednisone helps with her headaches, 5 mg and a very very small minuscule dose of Seroquel work for sleep. She is unable to work full-time because of this.

    • 112.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Indeed, the COMT enzyme affects the metabolize of many substances, including estrogens and catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephine), and one can have a SNP that impairs enzyme expression. Indeed, there’s no responsible way to give you a quick answer to your inquiry. As with any unique patient, you will need to do a thorough work-up on *root causes* for her unique disease dynamics. I do not know of any validated association with COMT status and migraines specifically. However, impaired methylation may still be involved given the familial aspect. Check homocysteine to ensure optimal (not just normal). If all antidepressnts and TCAs trigger migraines – and prednisone helps with them – I would look for either gut microbial imbalance and/or toxicity as a key contributor. I would also look carefully at diet and recommend the removal of all artifical colors and artificial sweeteners – at a minimu. This is a post I think you will find interesting as a starting point: .

  6. 111
    Shelley Cavezza says:

    This was a wonderful overview of physiological causes for anxiety. The interesting point for me was how running can make people with low cortisol feel better. This is my personal situation. I have always been advised not to run and yet it always makes me feel more energised and happier.
    I realise of cause it can exacerbate inflammation and is not recommended everyday but an occasional run may be better than any supplement.

  7. 110
    Tracey says:

    Perfect timing as I have a client right now whose anxiety levels are really high.
    She’s working with a therapist who is helping her through PTSD. Great to know that my
    recommendation to substitute her coffee with matcha; which has been beneficial; and to now know
    that it’s not just the decrease In caffeine yet also the l-theanine that levels the caffeine.
    And in addition although I don’t have blood work to confirm magnesium deficiency I’ve
    recommended magnesium threonate to help her get better sleep. Thank you! So addicted to SAFM!

  8. 109
    Anita says:

    Hi Tracy,
    Theare were many pearls that you shared, so thank you and I look forward to replaying this again. My biggest pearl I took away was to picture of the low cortisol person needing there run or high intensity work out to feel good due to the increase in Adrenaline. I have the picture of my client that fits that picture to a tee! Thank you from NZ and stay safe in these times

  9. 108
    Renee Angus says:

    I learned that bringing mindfulness back to us when life has gotten way to fast to meditate can begin with a gratitude journal. Thank you for covering everything so thoroughly.

  10. 107
    Lori Lamb says:

    I have a client who has been on Xanax for 10 years and finally came off of it about 4 months ago. She’s tried different supplements like GABA, taurine, melatonin and is still not sleeping through the night. She practices sleep hygiene, goes to bed at 10 and wakes up 4-5 times a night and if she even lets her mind go to one thought she’ll lay there for over an hour before being able to go back to sleep. How long does it take after coming off Xanax to stabilize and sleep well? Any thoughts or ideas that I can suggest to help her?

    • 107.1
      SAFM Team says:

      We are not able to give personalized advice in these Q&A threads. However, Xanax belongs to the class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which when used for a long time create a strong dependence and many people experience a so-called “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome” even after a slow wean off period (more than 20 weeks). You can read more about this syndrome here:
      What seems to be really important here is a much broader and holistic focus than just trying to ‘make the body sleep’. First, the mindset that it may take months before the natural sleep returns. Then, overall body wellness to support the brain in rebalancing its chemistry. Thus, a well-balanced diet, with plenty of healthy fats, ample protein, and organic greens and other vegetables; daily movement with sweating that promotes lymphatic circulation and circulation in general; proper hydration and detoxification support with any nutrients that may be missing.

  11. 106
    Kim Hartmann ND says:

    I have a patient who reacts adversely to all calming and GABA promoting supplementation. Causes very Glutamate=like sx; panic, anxiety, flushing, elevated heart rate, racing mind, insomnia. Urine metabolites show Glutamate 4x upper limit. We’ve tried Mag & B6, L-Theanine, Passionflower, adaptogens, etc.. All makes worse. We are detoxing mold, which I believe is one of the major causes of elevated Glutamate. Any other reasons body may react adversely to calming/GABA supplementation?

  12. 105
    Tina says:

    Hello! How can I listen to this? I would love to be able to view it please.

    • 105.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Yes, the video archive is indeed available to you to view at any time! Just look for the video frame below the postscript under Tracy’s signature. If it is not appearing for you, it may be that your network bandwidth is not sufficient to allow it to load. You may wish to try again at another time or with another device.

  13. 104
    Janet Kirch (aka Kirchheimer) says:

    What I found most interesting was the variety of different supplements that help anxiety. L-theronate, Taurine, L Theanine to name 3. How do you determine which one to use? Or is it just trial to see how each person feels. Are any based on cortisol as you mentioned as a possible issue?

    • 104.1
      SAFM Team says:

      We’re so glad that you found something new and interesting in the presentation, Janet! You’re asking fabulous questions and indeed we offer a whole Clinical Deep Dive Course on Depression and Anxiety Solutions: that teaches what you are inquiring about. We hope to see you inside soon!

  14. 103
    Cari Williamson says:

    I found the video to be very helpful in many ways. I liked that there were several examples of what might cause anxiety and the specific explanations of why. I found the recommendation to stop drinking coffee at 10.00 AM but to then drink green tea to be very interesting advise! Cari W.

  15. 102
    Leah Hope says:

    Gratitude journaling is the pearl for me!
    Great information.

  16. 101
    Elise Bender says:

    I am a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree. Do you have any RNs in your program?
    Your FB live mentioned how SSRIs can create a depletion over time of serotonin. How do you safely help a patient to get off of these?

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