Passionflower herb for treating generalized anxiety disorder

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Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a popular herbal remedy, which is traditionally recommended for treating anxiety and sleep problems such as insomnia.

Passionflower is part of a class of herbs known to medicinal herbalists as “nervines”.  Nervine herbs have an affinity for supporting, nourishing, calming and strengthening the overall function of the nervous system.

Passionflower is traditionally used for treating sleep problems(insomnia), gastrointestinal upset related to anxiety, nervousness or stress, seizures, and hysteria.

Often Passionflower is combined with other calming “nervine” herbs such as valerian, skullcap, chamomile, lemon balm, Gotu kola and hops, for example, all of which also have mild anti-anxiolytic properties.

There is some scientific evidence which suggests that Passionflower may be an effective natural herbal remedy for treating anxiety disorders.

A pilot double-blind randomized trial from 2001, which compared the efficacy of Passiflora incarnata extract with oxazepam in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder found that:

“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 the trial. Oxazepam showed a rapid onset of action. On the other hand, significantly more problems relating to the impairment of job performance were encountered with subjects on oxazepam.”

The study concluded:

“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.” [1]

The dosage of Oxazepam that they used in the study to compare the efficacy of Passionflower was also considered a high dose(30mg).  So for Passionflower to show equal efficacy to Oxazepam, which is a potent benzodiazepine medication for treating general anxiety disorder is pretty impressive results for a natural herbal remedy.

Passionflower extract also had a lower incidence of impairment of job performance, which was another huge advantage over using Oxazepam.  Benzodiazepine drugs such as Oxazepam and Valium also come with a huge list of serious side effects including addiction and the potential for increased seizure activity especially on withdrawal from medication.

Which is why safer natural alternative herbal remedies such as Passionflower, might hold great potential for treating generalized anxiety disorders.

References

1. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11679026
The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.

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