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New Research: Serenity with Passionflower
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, NEEDS Director of Education

Herbal Alternative for Anxiety
Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans and the most common form of treatment is medication. One typical class of drugs is benzodiazepines, which enhance the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA to produce a calming effect. They are typically prescribed as a fairly effective treatment for anxiety and insomnia. They are not without problems however, as they can interfere with one's ability to work; additionally, a person can develop an intolerance or dependence on them, and even have withdrawal symptoms when trying to discontinue therapy.

A possible alternative to this type of medication is the herbal extract passionflower. In a small double-blind, randomized trial, the effectiveness of benzodiapenes was compared to that of passionflower. The study focused on 36 patients with generalized anxiety disorder for 28 days. Half the group took passionflower extract plus a placebo, and the other half of the group took the benzodiazepine plus placebo. By the end of the study, both groups had a 68% reduction in their anxiety levels. The primary difference in the two treatments was that it took four days for the group taking the drug to feel a 30% reduction in anxiety, but it took the passionflower group seven days to reach that same reduction in stress. It was only over time that both treatments had an equal effect. However, the primary benefit of the passionflower was that it did not impair one's ability to work effectively, thereby making it a more practical treatment for the long term, without any side effects.

Reference: "Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam" in the June, 2012 issue of Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

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