Posted on Mon, 15 Nov 10
Anxiety disorders affect up to one in four people over the course of their lifetime. To avoid the cost and side effects of conventional medication people are increasingly turning to herbal and nutritional medicines to calm their anxiety. But what actually works?
Researchers from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, an international charity organization, recently reviewed the existing evidence for vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs for anxiety. A total of 24 studies were included in the final analysis, 21 of which were higher quality randomised controlled trials.
It was found that “of the randomised controlled trials reviewed in this report, 71% (15 out of 21) showed a positive direction of evidence, and any reported side effects were mild to moderate. Based on this data, it appears that nutritional and herbal supplements are effective methods for treating anxiety and anxiety-related conditions without the risk of serious side effects.”
Some herbal and nutritional medicines have better evidence than others. “Strong evidence exists for the use of herbal supplements containing extracts of passionflower or kava and combinations of L-lysine and L-arginine as treatments for anxiety symptoms and disorders. Magnesium-containing supplements and other herbal combinations may hold promise, but more research is needed before these products can be recommended to patients. St. John's wort monotherapy has insufficient evidence for use as an effective anxiolytic treatment” wrote the study authors.
1. Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutr J. 2010 Oct 7;9:42.