I know that many people eat, and in particular eat carbs, to cope with negative emotions, so I thought it might be helpful to share a personal experience with you. That Nice Boy I Married was having some problems with anxiety. There are, of course, some very effective anti-anxiety medications available, Xanax being the best known. Unfortunately, these medications are among the most addictive and most abused drugs available today. We wanted something a little less hazardous. After all, what good is an anti-anxiety medication if the idea of using it makes you anxious -- at least when you're not under the influence?
Inositol, usually classed with the B vitamins, has a reputation for helping with anxiety, so we added some to TNBIM's vitamin regimen. But I kept on doing my research, and learned about catuaba, a South American herb with two distinctly different uses: It has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, but also a strong reputation as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety drug).
Oddly enough, along with the dual uses, catuaba has a split personality. There are two different Brazilian trees, commonly referred to as "big catuaba" and "small catuaba," that are used interchangeably. The two species are known as Erythroxylum catuaba and Trichilia catigua. They are related, and in turn are both related to the coca plant, though they contain no cocaine.
Since there appear to be no adverse side effects associated with catuaba -- and certainly it appears safer than the benzodiazapene drugs -- we decided to try it. Capsules of catuaba were expensive at our local health food store, so we bought some bark, and I made a catuaba infusion -- a water extract, like tea. Unfortunately, it was utterly horrible-tasting, and That Nice Boy I Married found it hard to choke down enough of it to make a difference. Since I'd read that an alcohol-based tincture was actually more effective, I thought I'd try that, instead.
I found an inexpensive source of shredded catuaba bark, specifically the Trichilia catigua, and ordered a pound of the stuff for a big $8. I made a tincture thusly: I took a clean peanut butter jar -- I used glass -- and filled it with the shredded bark. I then also filled the jar with cheap vodka. I put on the lid, put the whole thing in an old coffee can, since I'd seen instructions to keep the brewing tincture in a dark place, and left it there for three weeks or so, shaking it whenever I thought of it. Then I strained it, and let TNBIM try it.
It was as foul tasting as the water infusion, but since it was stronger, it took considerably less of the stuff to do the trick. He takes 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) in a little water -- just a swallow or so -- whenever he feels he needs it. He finds the catuaba to be very effective for anxiety; he generally feels calmer with 15 or 20 minutes. This jibes with the information I have found online, that the stuff works very quickly. It seems unlikely that 1 1/2 teaspoons of vodka would be enough to do the trick, so we attribute the success of the tincture to the catuaba.
I haven't tried the catuaba tincture yet, not being as anxiety-prone as TNBIM. But you can bet that the next time I'm flipping out with stress I will be giving it a shot. (Well, less than a shot. A shot is about three tablespoons. But you know what I mean.)
Do with this information what you will.