Nancy Dell: Relaxation help; Genetically modified wheat

1. A few weeks ago you discussed chamomile to help relax. Is there anything else that can help?
Karen, Holyoke

Life is hectic and many of us look for help to reduce anxiety. Besides chamomile, here are 3 other options. A compound found in tea leaves called L-theanine increases the calming brain chemical dopamine. It also counteracts the stimulation effect from the caffeine in the tea. Experts recommend an L-theanine supplement, or you can drink real tea. A study in The Journal of Nutrition found drinking 4 cups of green tea provides the 100 milligrams of L- theanine recommended for anxiety. You can drink it hot or cold in place of some water.

A second option is lemon balm. A 2011 study gave participants with mild to moderate anxiety 300 mg of lemon balm twice a day. After 2 weeks, signs of anxiety were reduced 18 percent and insomnia reduced 42 percent. The researchers say lemon balm promotes relaxation by boosting the brain chemical GABA.

Kava is a third option. It has been used for centuries as a ceremonial drink in the Pacific Islands. A review of 7 studies show, Kava can be effective in just 1 week and as effective as valium to reduce anxiety. If you take it, do so under a doctor’s supervision and do not drink alcohol.

Kava does have a warning from the FDA. In rare cases Kava may harm the liver. Although experts think it may be from contaminated Kava or high alcohol use. This is why you should be under a doctor’s supervision to watch your liver function.
2. I heard most of the wheat in the US is genetically modified and has extra high gluten content. Is that true?
Michael, Internet

Both statements are not true. There actually is no genetically modified wheat commercially available in the US and wheat does not have lots of extra gluten.

Remember gluten is only an issue for the 1 percent of people diagnosed with celiac disease or the 3 percent of people with a gluten sensitivity. Many gluten free breads are lower in fiber than 100 percent whole wheat and certainly gluten free cakes and cookies are just as unhealthful as regular baked goods. If you think you are sensitive to gluten, see you doctor.

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