The Study Abstract: Double-blind, placebo controlled trial of the anxiolytic effects of a standardized Echinacea extract.
Earlier studies suggested that a specific Echinacea preparation might decrease anxiety. To further study the issue, we performed a double blind, placebo controlled trial with a standardized Echinacea angustifolia root extract. Participants were volunteers scoring above 45 points on the state or on the trait subscale of the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). They were treated with 40 mg Echinacea or with placebo tablets twice daily for 7 days followed by a 3 week-long washout period. Participants were also administered the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). In the Echinacea group, state anxiety scores decreased by approximately 11 points by the end of the treatment period, whereas the decrease was around 3-points in the placebo group (p< 0.01). The effect maintained over the washout period. The difference from placebo was significant from the 7th day of treatment throughout. Changes were less robust with trait anxiety scores, but the preparation performed better than placebo in patients with high baseline anxiety. Neither BDI nor PSS scores were affected by the treatments. Adverse effects were rare and mild, and all were observed in the placebo group. These findings suggest that particular Echinacea preparations have significant beneficial effects on anxiety in humans.
Source: Haller J, Krecsak L, Zámbori J. Phytother Res. 2019;10.1002/ptr.6558.
WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU:
If you struggle with anxiety, and it seems difficult simply to get through a day, realize that you are not alone. At least 40 million other American adults are going through exactly the same thing.
The good news is that clinical investigation of a botanical not often associated with anxiety relief—echinacea—has found that there may be an effective alternative.
The ability of a specialized Echinacea angustifolia extract (listed on supplement facts labels as EP107) was discovered when researchers in Hungary recognized that it contained compounds called alkamides. These compounds support the endocannabinoid system much like phytocannabinoids from hemp. Like endocannabinoids, they attach to CB-1 receptors in the brain to elicit feelings of calm, focus, and being in control. They also prevent an enzyme in the body from degrading one of our body’s own natural cannabinoids called anandamide that helps us feel calm and at peace.
This current research shows that the Echinacea angustifolia extract effectively and noticeably reduces anxiety. The difference in this latest study was dramatic: People in the echinacea group felt relief in only seven days and anxiety scores decreased by 11 points. Yet anxiety scores only dropped about three points in the placebo group by the end of the study. Ultimately, the individuals taking echinacea saw a 63 percent improvement in anxiety symptoms in just one week. These anxiety-reducing effects lasted for three weeks after people stopped taking the EP107 extract. As reflected in earlier clinical work, the extract shows fast initial effects, and continues working even after being discontinued. What’s more, the echinacea extract didn’t cause adverse side effects. In fact, only those in the placebo group noted any adverse effects.