Natural meds for anxiety?

A patient asked if any herbs or supplements might help her anxiety symptoms. She worries frequently during the day and feels constantly tense.

She’s not alone in seeking help from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). According to the medical source UpToDate, one-third of patients treated in primary care use CAM. Two-thirds of American adults use some form of CAM, and the most common of these therapies are for mind-body problems.

Before listing what supplements might help anxiety, I first tell her about risks of choosing CAM. Placebo response accounts for half the reported benefits. Most studies of supplements use small samples. There’s little study of drug interactions.

As for non-Western treatments, UpToDate writes, “many herbal remedies are largely used as a part of complex treatment strategies within Chinese, Tibetan, or Ayurveda medical systems. Evaluating their effects as a single remedy using Western testing methods and outcome measures, while useful, is incomplete. In addition, language barriers and selective databases limit access to clinical research from other countries.”

After saying that, what do I recommend? I’ll cover that in a future posting.

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