Anxiety. I know quite a few people with anxiety, and by trying to help them I realised that my own anxiety had almost disappeared over the years.
I used to have massive anxiety as a kid. Social anxiety but also general fears. Fears of being late to school, fear of speaking up in class, fear of riding my bicycle. I remember this fluttery feeling in my stomach.
Later this developed into full blown panic attaks when I was in university. I would pace in circles around my room trying to calm me down. I was scared of everything. Speaking to the cashier, driving a car, just sitting in a bus. I felt watched, judged, all the time. I isolated myself, avoided people and challenging situations.
Now obviously anxiety can have psychological reasons. Trauma or overcautious parents can prime the brain to be in fight or flight mode all the time, always prepared for the worst.
But there are also the physiological reasons for anxiety. In TCM fear is connected with the kidneys. Toxins affect all of our organs, especially the glands which are the main transmitters for fight or flight hormones.
I grew up with a high toxic load as you can read in my story. Plus, I didn't develop a feeling of safety due to a lack of connection with my mother who didn't breastfeed me and was extremely anxious and depressed (toxic) herself.
I thought about anxiety and how I healed myself, because yesterday and today I felt an inkling of this fluffy feeling again. It is still very subtle but I know it could get easily aggravated by a challenging situation... I realised I had caffeine those mornings. I gave up coffee many years ago which had been a big part of healing my anxiety (and heart burn and cramps and flushing).
Yesterday and today I had guarana (which contains even more caffeine than coffee). Like with any stimulant (for example raw cacao) - it enhances what already is. If you feel relaxed, in a good mood etc - a cacao ceremony can make you feel in love with the whole world. If you are facing difficult situations or decisions in your life, it most likely enhances your worries, anxiety and fears.
THis is what happened to me before I moved back to Germany. I had the habit of having a ceremonial cacao almost every morning. I balanced it with adaptogenic herbs thinking that would make it ok. And in the beginning of my cacao habit I felt incredible love and bliss and connection with nature.
Over time though this effect wore off, and then when I had to face a very difficult decision (leaving paradise and moving back to Germany) I collapsed into full blown panic mode and had a mental breakdown. Is only the cacao to blame? No but I am sure it played a major role.
Stimulants like coffee, cacao, guarana, green tea and me, we have a love hate relationship, and I know it's the same for many. I love the high feeling, especially when you didn't have any stimulants for a while.
And some people are doing with them, and don't notice many ill effects, maybe rather positive effects.
For my constitution and background, they are not beneficial. Maybe in very small amounts they can be good to heat up the system and move the liver (from a TCM standpoint of view). But on a daily base or in too high doses they crash my adrenals, leave me tired and wired, and cause anxiety.
Especially now in spring time when it's cleansing and liver time, I should definitely take a break from them. I felt the anxiety creeping up for a while but only now that I added in Guarana to my cacao consumption, I noticed the anxious feeling in the stomach again. It's just not helpful for my mood and neither for my digestion.
So my advise for anyone dealing with anxiety would be: stop the stimulants (coffee, black and green tea, guarana, mate, cacao but this also includes sugar and alcohol), get in plenty of magnesium, lots of greens, go for walks in nature, breathe deeply, yin yoga, eat regularly, rest, support the kidneys and liver, light exercise, meditation. Also good is lemon balm tincture.