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The evidence on herbal medicine for anxiety

Reduce anxiety naturally with herbal anxiolytics. These are herbal medicines that have a calming action on the central nervous system. Used by our Naturopaths to treat anxiety and nervousness, alongside presence practices.

Lavendula angustifolia (Lavender)

Lavender, the smell of grandma’s garden:

  • Lavender’s main chemicals of linalool and linalyl acetate have been shown to reverse caffeine associated nervousness in mice.
  • Lavender is shown to reduce catecholamines (stress hormones) in menopausal rats.
  • Inhalation of lavender increased sedation and altered EEG responses as well as significantly decreasing the heart rate of nervous patients going into surgery.
  • However caution when anxiety is coupled with depression. As a study with 169 depressed participants, has negative findings where lavender increased fatigue and tension.

Clinical practice findings – real people, real clinic, real evidence: Lavender was used in Real Naturo clinic on fourteen patients with anxiety, prescribed in a combination of other calminative herbal extracts. Results showed improved mood, better sleep, improved natural energy and observational analysis of reduced cortisol levels.  More clinical evidence is needed with measured blood hormone ratios.

 

Passiflora incarnata (passionflower)

My favourite herb, it’s a like a heart cuddle.

  • A recent cochrane review of a random control trials concluded that passiflora is as effective for anxiety as the benzodiazepine oxazepam  30mg a day over 4 weeks.
  • A study with 60 participants with generalised anxiety disorder, were randomised into 2 groups and given 500mg of passiflora or placebo before surgery. Those in the passiflora group scored significantly lower anxiety compared to placebo.

Passionflower is a naturopaths favorite. It is great herbal medicine for withdrawal of cannabis, alcohol and opiates for psychological symptoms. Adjunct with kava kava and valerian for physiological effects of withdrawal too.

 

Scutellaria baicalensis (Baical Scullcap)

Another favourite, I can equate the relaxation effects of scullcap to having a glass of wine or a medicinal shot of whisky.

  • Wogonin and baicalin are the main active constituents that bind to benzodiazepine site of GABA-A receptor. Skullcap can have a similar anxyolitic effects as benzodiazepene drugs like valium but better than diazepam it can reduce anxiety without causing sedation.
  • Scullcap is also neuroprotective and hepatoprotective. Significant protective effects were seen by comparing the serum levels of AST and ALT (from a liver function test) and histopathologic examination.

In clinical practice I have so many success stories with scullcap used in anxiety. I will write a whole book on this plant one day. When somebody comes into clinic very anxious, overwhelmed and unable to ground we give a shot of skullcap mixed with kava-kava and flower essences. Along with a hug and some breathing exercises they begin to ease back into themselves. Also great for the nervousness associated with too much caffeine (if coffea homeopathic is not available).

Piper methysticum (Kava kava)

Kava has repeatedly been reported as performing as good as the benzodiazepine valium. Like all herbal medicine, power is in the dosage and form. Unusually lower doses of kava with standardised kavlacones have better effects than high doses.

  • Over 12 clinical studies with more than 700 participants have proved the herbal extract form of kava has the most effective anxiolytic action.
  • A 12 week double blind randomised control trial showed that 400mg of kava kava a day was as effective as buspirone in acute treatment of generalised anxiety disorder. 75% of patients respond to treatment.

In clinic we often use kava kava in chronic anxiety cases and opiate drug withdrawal, whilst rebuilding resilience in the nervous system with presence practices.  Success has been in combination with Naturo – therapy (transpersonal psychotherapy and inner work).  Thus far we have only had success with patients that have been addicted to opiates for less than 3 years.

 

Real Naturo are invested in collecting global clinical practice data. If you are interested to help the evolution of natural medicine that works, please let your practitioner know and you will receive a discount on Real Naturo medicines.

 

References:

All references are taken from “Herbs and Natural supplements; an evidence based guide” by Braun and Cohen. THE AUSTRALIAN NATUROPATHIC BIBLE. Buy your copy here  http://www.elsevierhealth.com.au/herbs-and-natural-supplements-2-volume-set-9780729553841.html

 

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