Herbal medicines hold an important place in the history of medicine as most of our current remedies contain phytochemicals derived from plants, as will the majority of those likely to be discovered in the future.
A systematic review of studies examining the use of nutritional supplements for the treatment of anxiety disorders has found strong evidence for the use of extracts of passionflower, kava and the amino acids L-lysine and L-arginine.
The herb passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), a perennial vine originating in US temperate and tropical climates, has been used as a folk remedy for anxiety and insomnia. Native to the South Pacific, the leafy herb kava (Piper methysticum) can combat anxiety symptoms as effectively as many prescription drugs.
The amino acid L-lysine has been shown to reduce chronic anxiety in humans with low dietary intake of L-lysine. A combination of L-lysine and L-arginine has been documented to normalize hormonal stress responses in humans with high trait- and stress-induced anxiety. These amino acids also reduce basal levels of stress hormones.
Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s Nutrition Journal pooled the results of 24 studies involving more than 2000 participants, showing that some herbal supplements can be effective without the risk of serious side effects.
“Our review on herbal remedies and dietary supplements for anxiety should aid health practitioners in advising their patients,” says Shaheen Lakhan and Karen Vieira, researchers from the nonprofit Neuroscience Initiative Foundation based in Los Angeles. “We found mixed resultswhile passionflower, kava and L-lysine and L-arginine appeared to be effective, St. John’s Wort and magnesium supplements were not.”
More research needs to be done to establish the most effective dosage and to determine whether this varies between different types of anxiety or anxiety-related disorders.
Benefits of herbs for stress
• Reduces nervous and anxious behavior.
• Calming properties enhance overall well-being.
• Herbs restore healthy neurotransmitter balance.
Acupuncture & Massage College’s Community Clinic offers acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and massage therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders as well as a wide range of other health conditions. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.