Busy Philipps Opens Up About Her Anxiety & The Very Specific Diet She's Doing To Fight Inflammation & Allergies

Photo: mbg Creative

Busy Philipps is the definition of a modern multi-hyphenate: actress, author, soon-to-be talk-show host, influencer, and mom (to Birdie and Cricket). Perhaps most notoriously, she's gained a legion of fans in recent years from her candid (and prolific) Instagram tales, which people tune into like a more glamorous (and self-aware) version of The Truman Show. We caught up with her in Midtown Manhattan, where she was doing a press day in support of the new Tropicana Kids juice pouches, to talk about her new sinus diet, how she deals with anxiety, and more.

The diet Busy's using to treat her sinus issues.

True to form, Busy jumps in as soon as she sits down, opening up, ironically, about her very closed-off sinuses. "I was born with deformed sinuses, so they were always 90 to 100 percent blocked," she told me. "I was constantly in facial pain and feeling pressure, literally since I was on Dawson's Creek."

She tried to treat the problem with Western medicine, opting for a surgery in May. "I felt great for the first two weeks," she said, "and then I flew to New York and I got a cold, and I haven’t been better since." After completely losing her sense of smell, she visited another doctor who told her that she'd developed polyps in her lower sinuses. For Busy, it was the last straw. "I was like, I’m done with this, it’s not working," she said. "Whatever I've been doing—the whole approach I've been taking—it's just not working."

She did research on her own and decided to try a low-histamine diet, which Robert Graham, M.D., a food medicine specialist (although not Busy's doctor), often uses to treat his patients. "The No. 1 cause of sinus issues is allergies/histamine," he explained. "Symptoms like rashes, dermatitis, hives or eczema, flushing, headaches, bloating, and reflux also improve." He starts his patients on a two-step process with an elimination diet, followed by the reintroduction of histamine-containing foods. "We also examine the gut because intestinal permeability is a common cause of histamine intolerance," he said. Graham will also give his patients Lactobacillus rhamnosus with Bifidobacterium, strains of probiotics that, based on in vitro studies as well as animal studies, help minimize histamine release.

For the time being, Busy is eschewing spinach, nuts, citrus, avocados, fermented foods, olives, and nightshades (like tomatoes and eggplant). "I’m keeping it really basic and eating mostly just vegetables and protein," she says. She's currently finishing her first week of the cleanse and hasn't noticed a difference yet, but she's optimistic. "I also plan to visit an ayurvedic specialist when I'm back in LA, and hoping to do a panchakarma cleanse," she said.

How CBD and sweat help Busy deal with anxiety.

The actress uses similarly holistic methods for dealing with her anxiety, which she's suffered from her entire life—although she was only diagnosed after the birth of her first child, Birdie. "I had postpartum anxiety," she said. "It was very, very crazy-making, and I did go on Lexapro for like a year and a half." She didn't have anxiety after the birth of her second child, Cricket, but suffered from extreme anxiety during that pregnancy. "I had horrible anxiety about giving birth to a dead baby, and I was holding it in because I thought if I said it out loud, it would become true," she said. "So no one could help me, because no one knew what I was thinking. Finally, I had a crazy panic attack and told my husband—and it was only then that I was really able to get the help I needed."

She still finds talking to people (whether it's her therapist or her husband) to be incredibly important, but working out is the primary antidote for her. "If I do a hard cardio workout first thing in the morning, I'm less likely to have a panic attack or get anxiety throughout the day." She still does experience panic attacks—"I just had one the other day," she said—but she treats them in the moment with CBD, which she buys in a 5:1 ratio to THC (the blend is legal in her home state of California, while pure CBD is legal in most states).

Her daughter Birdie also suffers from anxiety. "We do cognitive behavioral therapy," Busy said, "and try to be really, really open about it and get to the root of where it's all coming from."

They also maintain a healthy diet in their house—although not to the extent that it would create new types of anxiety. "I don’t want to give my daughters any weird complexes," she said. "I heard that the ketogenic diet can help with mood stabilization, but I don’t want to teach my kids to be that restrictive around food." Instead, they try to incorporate as many vegetables as possible and stick to relatively low-sugar fare. "That's why I like the Tropicana Kids juice pouch," she said, "It’s organic, 45 percent real fruit juice and then it's filtered water, so it’s lower sugar, and all of the sugar in it comes from fruit."

According to Busy, it's all about balance and openness, principles by which she lives every part of her life. A little wine, a little workout; a little working woman, a little mom. Mostly, she's just very Busy.

Looking for more foods to fight inflammation and anxiety? Check out the five best (and how to use 'em) here.

And are you ready to learn more about what anxiety, brain health, and your diet all have in common? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Mark Hyman.

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