5 Studies Show Effectiveness of Herbal and Alternative Treatment for Anxiety Disorders1. Anxiety Supplements with Clinical Trial Evidence

The above graphic represents the effort of researchers to compile a record of the available science on natural supplements for anxiety.

The purpose was to establish the benefits and risks of supplements, so physicians could effectively collaborate with their patients. They divided the results into 4 categories, with 2 effective groups, divided based on the type of study performed, and 2 additional groups, divided into those with weak effectiveness and those with none. Above is the table of results.

This research can be found here.

2. Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies to Treat Anxiety and Depression in the United States

This study was based on a self-report survey distributed by mail, obtaining data from 2,055 respondents in a broad national sample. The goal was to gain insight into the use of alternative medicine by individuals with anxiety or depression.

Of the respondents, 9.4% had anxiety attacks within the previous 12 months, 7.2% had experienced a severe depressive episode. Of those individuals, 56.7% of those with anxiety and 53.6% of those with depression reported the use of alternative remedies. However, only 20% of those with anxiety and 19.3% of those with depression visited an alternative therapist for those remedies.

Of the respondents who went to a traditional therapist, 65.9% of those with anxiety and 66.7% of the depressives simultaneously used alternate treatments. The rate of use to treat these disorders is higher for the alternate treatments, which makes the need for doctors to ask patients about the use of these treatments clear. This way, adverse interactions may be avoided and positive benefits maximized.

Of the respondents, 9.4% had anxiety attacks within the previous 12 months, 7.2% had experienced a severe depressive episode. Of those individuals, 56.7% of those with anxiety and 53.6% of those with depression reported the use of alternative remedies. However, only 20% of those with anxiety and 19.3% of those with depression visited an alternative therapist for those remedies.

Of the respondents who went to a traditional therapist, 65.9% of those with anxiety and 66.7% of the depressives simultaneously used alternate treatments. The rate of use to treat these disorders is higher for the alternate treatments, which makes the need for doctors to ask patients about the use of these treatments clear. This way, adverse interactions may be avoided and positive benefits maximized.

Of the respondents who went to a traditional therapist, 65.9% of those with anxiety and 66.7% of the depressives simultaneously used alternate treatments. The rate of use to treat these disorders is higher for the alternate treatments, which makes the need for doctors to ask patients about the use of these treatments clear. This way, adverse interactions may be avoided and positive benefits maximized.

See research here.

3. Effect of Mulberry Leaves on Anxiety in Mice

This study was performed because of the high prevalence of anxiety in the population, 1/8th of the population, worldwide. The most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety are benzodiazepines, not an ideal solution because of the potential for addiction and overdose.

The results did show mulberry leaves (often sold as a tea) having an anxiolytic effect (anxiety decreasing) based on several behavioral parameters. I recommend reading the description of the methods in the study, which are too involved to list in a summary. This study concluded that, pending further research, mulberry leaves has potential clinical applications for the treatment of anxiety and muscle tension disorders. The latter results from a muscle relaxing effect from the leaves.

See the study here.

4. Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review

This study was conducted to analyze the effect of mindfulness-based therapy because it has become increasingly popular as a method of treatment for anxiety and depression. The principle behind this is that teaching people to experience events nonjudgmentally will work to counteract stressors, further enhanced by the person now responding reflectively instead of reflexively.

While the principles appear logical, little data exists about its effectiveness. Researchers identified 39 studies that employed this type of therapy on both physical and mental disorders. The effects found in each study were sizable enough to suggest moderate effectiveness. The conclusion held that mindfulness-based therapy displayed promise as a clinical treatment for anxiety and mood disorders.

Read the study here.

5. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Treatment of Anxiety and Depression

This study was conducted based on the same need as was expressed in the 2nd included example explained above. This need was for data relating to the widespread use of complementary and alternative medicines in anxiety treatment and used an examination of recent research.

I felt it was relevant to include due to the time between. The first was conducted in 2001, this was performed during 2008. They found kava to be an effective treatment for anxiety and St. John’s Wort and omega-3 fatty acids showed similar results with depression.

The first was conducted in 2001, this was performed during 2008. They found kava to be an effective treatment for anxiety and St. John’s Wort and omega-3 fatty acids showed similar results with depression. However, newer research has associated kava with hepatotoxicity, which is chemical-driven liver damage. Buyer beware. I have no idea how validated this risk may or may not be.

One new result was a growing body of evidence suggesting acupuncture has a positive effect on anxiety.

However, they found many incidences throughout all the studies analyzed of methodological issues that present serious questions about the reliability of the results. They concluded that the existing evidence for a positive result is poor, but that the high rate of use of these types of therapies demands a higher class of research take a new look at them.

Further reading: As far as books go, the definitive book on alternative treatment for mood is psychotherapist Julia Ross’s Mood Cure. You should never rely on a book to treat any mental disorder, however. Ross’s book, which many have claimed to be life-saving, should only be used in conjunction with proper medical supervision.