This literature review evaluates the use of Naturopathy in the treatment of Anxiety. Anxiety and Depression are the most common mental illnesses around today, Bateson, Brilot& Nettle (2011). Anxiety is a blanket term covering many types of disorders, for example a phobias, OCD, PTSD and Panic Attacks. All of these stem from a sense of worry.
Naturopathy makes use of many treatments such as iridology, herbal medicine and other natural western medicine practices. Three scientific studies were found, that studied the use of Naturopathy methods, such as herbal medicine, in dealing with anxiety.
The first study found, “Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) May Provide Antidepressant Activity in Anxious, Depressed Humans: An Exploratory Study”, was a randomised, double blinded, controlled study of 57 participants in 2009. The design of the study assessed the use of oral consumption of camomile in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
The problem with this study is that it only looked at Matricaria Recutita, the German camomile, while there are many different variations of the plant which may have a stronger or weaker affect. The population of the study could have been bigger to give a more accurate reading. Although the study had different types of sufferers: Anxious and depressed, anxious and formerly depressed and anxious with no depression, Which opened up to a wider range of feedback.
The quality and depth of the study was well researched before hand and well executed, the anti-anxiety mode of action is still unkown, but the results of the study suggest that camomile results in a significant improvement over a long term period of anxious and depressed people. This study is more valid in some cases as it is the next step after In-Vitro and In Vivo studies were completed on the affects of Camomile and it’s calming effects.
The next study was conducted in 2002, by Volz, Murck, Kasper and Moller. It was a Randomised, double blinded study that focused on the use of St John’s Wort extract in the treatment of Anxiety disorders and Somatization Disorder. The study only lasted for six weeks, this and the fact the participants were outpatients, allowed them to continue their daily tasks but it removed a certain allowance of control. The outcome of the research was a reduction in anxiety. St John’s Wort is used specifically in treating depression symptoms that are also common in anxiety suffers. Lakhan and Vieira’s review of St John’s Wort as treatment was of mixed outcomes, with Volz’s 2002 study being positive in favour of SJW as treatment for anxiety and Depression, while a study of 13 OCD patients treated with SJW and a placebo found no significant improvement, that being said, OCD anxiety is not the most responsive to treatment or placebos ( Lakhan and Vieira, 2010 ). The lengh of the study, Six Weeks, is the same amount of time needed to see the full effect of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant treatments, this should be taken into account when comparing SJW to other treatment methods.
Reported Adverse Events following
- Randomized; Double-blind; Parallel Group
- Significant Reduction in Anxiety
- Very well tolerated.
- Abdominal pain
Table from Volz’s 2002 study.
The adverse events following the treatment of SJW to the patrticipants may be taken in a sense of reduced immunity or plain unluckiness as SJW is a astringent and antimicrobial remedy for Gastro, Diarrhoea and Disentry. SJW also carries antibacterial properties that ward off infections and stomach problems.
The third study looks at the high dosages of St John’s Wort and Valerian on Anxiety and Depression sufferers. This is a non-experimental study as it is very wide with a focus on data, the problem with is that there is less quality of data, even though each group participating was documented at the three sessions with the doctor, there is less control over the participants. This study makes the link between lack of sleep and depression with the use of Valerian. From the first visit where the patients symptoms were high, ranging at 1.68 on average, by the third and final recorded doctors appointment, 0.47 on average, leaving the participants with all core symptoms of depression and almost all anxiety symptoms receded significantly. The participants suffering more severely received higher doses of Valerian and SJW. The study consisted of 2,462 participants with only 3 cases of adverse side-effects. In terms of the scale of this study, the orchestration of it was a large achievement in all aspects, not just for research purposes as it has provided a large sample population to work with. From this study, it is very suggestible that mild to server anxiety and depression sufferers can be treated with SJW and Valerian together in high doses, with only 42 changes in dosage over the entire study with a population of 2462. It is clear by the end of the study that valerian may be used in conjunction with SJW when treating anxiety symptoms for quicker improvement. While the validity of this study is very good in thought as all participants are monitored at the three doctors appointment, It is very possible that as it is such a large sample population that somethings could slip through the gaps easily.
After the research on this topic, it can be suggested that Naturopathic treatment can benefit persons suffering from anxiety and Depression in more ways than pharmaceutical anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication. One of the main strong benefits that herbal medicine, unlike Pharmaceutical Anti-anxiety and Anti-Depression drugs, which can cause horrible dependency on the medication as well as withdrawals making it very hard to stop the use. Is that persons being medicated by naturopathic treatment will be more in control of themselves which results no increased anxiety from their medication. While the Validity of studies 2 and 3 may have problems when placed alone, together they back up each other. The naturopathic Approach to the treatment of Anxiety and Depression seems very plausible and effective. While all studies were different, they all made the same point that herbal treatment was an effective treatment for Anxiety and Depression. While more study into anxiety needs to be done, the results of the studies Reviewed favoured Natural Medicines, showing only positive results. None of these studies were case controlled, Studies 1 and 2 using placebos and study 3 being a cohort study spaning multiple weeks.
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