Hello, I've surfed across some very interesting information on the following herbs for use in reducing anxiety. Please let us know if you have any experience or other information on these. The Gotu Kola study on the accoustic startle response in healthy subjects is particularly interesting to me. Here is the info I found on these three herbs:
Ashwagandha is sometimes called "Indian ginseng," not because it's related botanically (it's closer to potatoes and tomatoes), but because its traditional uses were similar. Like ginseng, ashwagandha was thought to be a "tonic herb" capable of generally strengthening the body
"Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study".
Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S.
Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India. email@example.com
The roots of Withania somnifera (WS) are used extensively in Ayurveda, the classical Indian system of medicine, and WS is categorized as a rasayana, which are used to promote physical and mental health, to provide defence against disease and adverse environmental factors and to arrest the aging process. WS has been used to stabilize mood in patients with behavioural disturbances. The present study investigated the anxiolytic and antidepressant actions of the bioactive glycowithanolides (WSG), isolated from WS roots, in rats. WSG (20 and 50 mg/kg) was administered orally once daily for 5 days and the results were compared by those elicited by the benzodiazepine lorazepam (0.5 mg/kg, i.p.) for anxiolytic studies, and by the tricyclic anti-depressant, imipramine (10 mg/kg, i.p.), for the antidepressant investigations. Both these standard drugs were administered once, 30 min prior to the tests. WSG induced an anxiolytic effect, comparable to that produced by lorazepam, in the elevated plus-maze, social interaction and feeding latency in an unfamiliar environment, tests. Further, both WSG and lorazepam, reduced rat brain levels of tribulin, an endocoid marker of clinical anxiety, when the levels were increased following administration of the anxiogenic agent, pentylenetetrazole. WSG also exhibited an antidepressant effect, comparable with that induced by imipramine, in the forced swim-induced 'behavioural despair' and 'learned helplessness' tests. The investigations support the use of WS as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions of anxiety and depression in Ayurveda.
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Passion Flower</span>
Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies): The historical use of passion flower is not dissimilar to its current use as a mild sedative. Medicinal use of the herb did not begin until the late 19th century in the United States. Passion flower was used to treat nervous restlessness and gastrointestinal spasms. In short, the effects of passion flower were believed to be primarily on the nervous system, particularly for anxiety due to mental worry and overwork
The alkaloids harman and harmaline found in passionflower have been found to act somewhat like the drugs known as MAO inhibitors.
"Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam."
Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M.
Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, South Kargar Avenue, Tehran, Iran. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a folk remedy for anxiety. A double-blind randomized trial compared the efficacy of Passiflora incarnata extract with oxazepam in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. METHODS: The study was performed on 36 out-patients diagnosed with GAD using DSM IV criteria. Patients were allocated in a random fashion: 18 to the Passiflora extract 45 drops/day plus placebo tablet group, and 18 to oxazepam 30 mg/day plus placebo drops for a 4-week trial. RESULTS: Passiflora extract and oxazepam were effective in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. No significant difference was observed between the two protocols at the end of trial. Oxazepam showed a rapid onset of action. On the other hand, significantly more problems relating to impairment of job performance were encountered with subjects on oxazepam. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that Passiflora extract is an effective drug for the management of generalized anxiety disorder, and the low incidence of impairment of job performance with Passiflora extract compared to oxazepam is an advantage. A large-scale trial is justified.
"Anti-anxiety studies on extracts of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus."
Dhawan K, Kumar S, Sharma A.
Pharmacognosy Division, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University, 160014, Chandigarh, India.
Passiflora incarnata Linn. has been used to cure anxiety and insomnia since time immemorial. Despite the worldwide use of P. incarnata, the pharmacological work on this plant had been inadequate, inconclusive and wage as the earlier reports were unable to infer the mode of action of the plant as well as the phytoconstituents responsible for the much acclaimed anxiolytic and sedative effects of P. incarnata. An attempt has been made to isolate and identify the bioactive phytomoiety of P. incarnata by resorting to bioactivity directed fractionation and chromatographic procedures. A fraction derived from the methanol extract of P. incarnata has been observed to exhibit significant anxiolytic activity at a dose of 10 mg/kg in mice using elevated plus-maze model of anxiety. This fraction comprises mainly two components which are visible as blue and turquoise colored fluorescent spots at 366 nm of the UV light. The possibility of a phytoconstituent having benzoflavone nucleus as the basic moiety being responsible for the bioactivity of P. incarnata is highly anticipated.
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Gotu Kola</span>
Gotu kola is a creeping plant native to subtropical and tropical climates. Gotu kola has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India) to promote wound healing and slow the progress of leprosy. It was also reputed to prolong life, increase energy, and enhance sexual potency.1 Other uses of gotu kola included treating skin diseases, anxiety, diarrhea, menstrual disorders, vaginal discharge, and venereal disease.
"A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) on acoustic startle response in healthy subjects."
Bradwejn J, Zhou Y, Koszycki D, Shlik J.
Royal Ottawa Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. email@example.com
Investigations of the pharmacologic profile of medicinal plants have revealed that a number of plants with purported anxiolytic activity bind to cholecystokinin (CCK) receptors. This finding is intriguing in view of the proposed involvement of CCK in the pathophysiology of fear and anxiety. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study was undertaken to evaluate the anxiolytic activity of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) in healthy subjects. Gotu Kola has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Recent studies in the rat have shown that long-term pretreatment with Gotu Kola decreases locomotor activity, enhances elevated-plus maze performance, and attenuates the acoustic startle response (ASR). In this study, the authors evaluated the effects of Gotu Kola on the ASR in humans. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either a single 12-g orally administered dose of Gotu Kola (N = 20) or placebo (N = 20). The results revealed that compared with placebo, Gotu Kola significantly attenuated the peak ASR amplitude 30 and 60 minutes after treatment. Gotu Kola had no significant effect on self-rated mood, heart rate, or blood pressure. These preliminary findings suggest that Gotu Kola has anxiolytic activity in humans as revealed by the ASR. It remains to be seen whether this herb has therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of anxiety syndromes.
"[Effect of total triterpenes from Centella asiatica on the depression behavior and concentration of amino acid in forced swimming mice]"
[Article in Chinese]
Chen Y, Han T, Qin L, Rui Y, Zheng H.
School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the antidepressant activity of total triterpenes from Centella asiatica in forced swimming test. METHODS: Mice were randomly divided into control group, model group and treatment group. The effect of total triterpenes from Centella asiatica on the immobility time in forced swimming mice and concentration of amino acid in mice brain tissue was observed. RESULTS: Imipramine and total triterpenes from Centella asiatica reduced the immobility time and ameliorated the imbalance of amino acid levels. CONCLUSION: The total triterpenes from Centella asiatica had antidepressant activity.