|Article Ann Walker; Photo © Debs Cook|
A research group from Australia were interested in finding whether plant extracts with a history of safe use as medicines, might act in a similar way to these drugs (PMID: 29168225). They scoured the literature to find herbs that had been shown (a) to raise GABA levels in test-tube studies, (b) to reduce anxiety in lab animals and (c) to reduce anxiety in human studies. Ten herbs met these three criteria: Kava, Valerian, Gotu Kola, Hops, Chamomile, Ginkgo Biloba, Passionflower, Ashwagandha, Skullcap and Lemon Balm.
I know from clinical practice that herbal medicines can play an enormous part in supporting mental health and alleviating conditions such as anxiety. After starting my herbal practice, it was the strong positive influence that some herbs can have on mental function that was the thing that astonished me most in dealing with patients – something not highlighted in my training. All the herbs mentioned in this current review are well known to western herbal practitioners and nearly all would feature frequently in their herbal prescriptions. It’s great to see research revealing actual mechanisms of action to support the traditional use of these herbs!
PMID = PubMed identifier
Ann Walker PhD, FCPP, MNIMH, RNutr
Course Director DHM