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Originally published October 22 2010

Anxiety can be treated with herbs and nutrients, says new research

by S. L. Baker, features writer

(NaturalNews) Who hasn't felt anxious before a test, or after some personal upset or accident? But sometimes anxiety can become chronic. And ongoing feelings of apprehension, fear or nervousness can rob people of their quality of life and even negatively impact their health. According to the American Psychological Association, panic disorder is an especially serious type of anxiety that is experienced by one out of every 75 people in the U.S. -- they can feel like they are having a heart attack, breathing difficulties, blacking out or even dying.

Mainstream medicine treats anxiety disorders with psychotherapy and, often, drugs including side-effect laden serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and addictive benzodiazepines (including Xanax). But a new study involving a comprehensive review of research into the use of nutritional supplements for the treatment of anxiety disorders has come up with good news for anyone wanting to relieve anxiety through natural means. According to the review of 24 studies involving a total of more than 2000 participants, which was just published in BioMed Central's Nutrition Journal, specific nutritional and herbal supplements can effectively treat anxiety, without the risk of serious side effects.

The research analysis was conducted by Shaheen Lakhan and Karen Vieira, scientists with the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, a non-profit charity organization for the advancement of neurological and mental health patient welfare, education, and research, based in Los Angeles. "Our review and summary of the literature on herbal remedies and dietary supplements for anxiety should aid mental health practitioners in advising their patients and provide insight for future research in this field," Lakhan said in a statement to the media.

The studies Lakhan and Vieira investigated for their review included 21 randomized controlled trials -- the kind of research that is considered the "gold standard" in science. Of these, 15 showed positive anti-anxiety effects from either a nutritional or herbal remedy. The most consistently effective natural anxiety treatments appeared to be the herbs passionflower and kava and the amino acids L-lysine and L-arginine. St. John's Wort, which is traditionally used for depression, not anxiety, was not found to be an effective anxiety treatment.

"For all three of the herbal supplements we reviewed, 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," Lakhan stated. "Herbal medicines hold an important place in the history of medicine as most of our current remedies, and the majority of those likely to be discovered in the future, will contain phytochemicals derived from plants."

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