The National Institute of Mental Health has reported that anxiety disorders are becoming a common mental illness in America.
Currently it affects 40 million adults (18 years and older) or 18% of the general population. It costs a little over $42 billion a year, which equates to a third of America’s $148 billion total mental health bills states “The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders,” a study conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. How many times did you resort to Xanax in times of anxiety? Some people deal with it on a daily basis where Xanax is needed.
Many don’t even know the long and short term effects of the drug too. Xanax is a benzodiazepine, which are used to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety. In 2010, Xanax or Alprazolam was listed as the 8th commonly prescribed medications according to SDI Health.
What Is Alprazolam (Xanax): The Cost of Calm
In 2011, over 49 million prescriptions were written for alprazolam. Like other benzodiazepines, alprazolam acts as an anti-anxiety agent that bind ti certain areas of GABA receptors in the brain to calm the heart rate and breathing, creating a sense of relief and relaxation. Like other pharmaceutical drugs, alprazolam’s benefits have a cost.
Typical Side Effects of Xanax
• Excessive talking
• Decreased motivation
• Dyspnea or shortness of breath
• Dry mouth
• Decreased libido
• Skin rash, respiratory depression, constipation
• Drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, unsteadiness and impaired coordination, vertigo
• Anterograde amnesia and concentration problems
More Serious Side Effects of Xanax
• Strange dreams
• Suicidal ideation
• Slurred speech
• Difficulty concentrating
• Memory problems
Long Term Side Effects Of Xanax
The most harsh side effect of Xanax is its high risk for addiction within such a short amount of time. It has a sedative effect that offers the user a high that the body starts to tolerate with frequent usage.
When a tolerance is established, the patients ends up being prescribed a higher dose until they get that relaxed feeling. It begins a cycle an addiction to sedatives, which at some point leads to a higher risk for overdose.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (1):
• More than 20 million people over the age of 12 have reported misuse of benzodiazepines at some point in their lives.
• There were almost 350,000 emergency room visits related to benzodiazepines in 2010; alprazolam accounted for more than a third of these.
A Natural Alternative To Xanax: L-theanine
This amino acid can be found within teas made from the Camellia sinensis plant. L-theanine is an anxiolytic without any sedative/ side effects like Xanax. L-theanine, like Xanax, acts by interacting with brain receptors and increasing dopamine, GABA, and glycine levels in areas of the brain. It helps relax the central nervous system, producing a sense of calm and reduces stress.
L-theanine also increases alpha-waves in the brain which signify an alert but relaxed brain. In 2004, an Australian study was conducted using 16 volunteers and compared 200mg of theanine to 1mg of Xanax. Subjects were given either theanine, Xanax or a placebo during either a resting task (baseline) or a task that provoked anxiety. Theanine worked better than Xanax to induce feelings of relaxation during the resting task, however, neither L-theanine or alprazolam demonstrated any acute anxiolytic effects during the anxiety task.
Taking L-theanine: Tea vs. Supplements
There are two options: start increasing your intake of L-theanine; concentrated doses through supplementation and/or lower concentrations in brewed tea.
• L-theanine supplements are typically sold as 200mg doses which are the equivalent to 8-10 cups of brewed black tea.
• The recommended dose is of 100–200mg 1-3 times per day for therapeutic benefits
• Black tea: A typical 200ml cup of brewed black tea contained approximately 25mg of L-theanine
• Green tea: An average cup of brewed green tea contained approximately 8mg of L-theanine
• Matcha green tea powder: For the most bang for your buck I personally love a decent sized serving of organic stone-ground matcha every morning which offers around 29mg of L-theanine per 2g of matcha with the added punch of antioxidant goodness.
The University of Newcastle in Australia’s team of researchers, report that in order to get the highest possible amount of L-theanine out of each cup follow these instructions (2):
1. Steep tea at 80 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes
2. Use water to tea ratio of 20 ml per 1 gram
3. Steep tea that is between 0.5 and 1 mm in particle size!
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