How much of your life and energy is sapped by anxiety? Do you find your waking moments clouded by a sense of impending disaster, or outright fear—without any obvious cause?
Or is it constant, indefinable worry and tension that leaves you on edge? Are you overreacting to minor setbacks and are you easily overwhelmed? If you are, then you are likely dealing with the joy-sapping effects of anxiety.
In this article, we are going to look at the harmful impact of excessive anxiety in our lives, and a surprising, clinically studied botanical for anxiety that, in scientific tests, performed as well as prescription drugs!
Anxiety is Common – Healthy Solutions Aren’t
I think most people can remember at least a few times when they’ve been anxious. Maybe it was right before giving a presentation at work, or the day they were ready to walk down the aisle with their soon-to-be spouse. As distracting and annoying as that level of anxiety can be, it’s to be expected now and then. But for all too many, it’s a crushing weight that they experience every day. In fact, approximately 40 million Americans ages 18 and older have an anxiety disorder.
For some, anxiety is just an occasional problem, cropping up during rush deadlines or family events. For others, it becomes worse over time, initially brought about by a bout of ill health or a traumatic event and requiring a full range of therapeutic intervention. It can lead to panic attacks, social phobias, and a host of emotionally crippling conditions. For most however, anxiety is simply a feeling at the edge of each day that something isn’t right, and a disproportionate sense of unease, even over what would, under other circumstances,
be considered trivial.
Conventional prescriptions to treat anxiety are almost as well-known for their side effects as for their degree of relief. And while there are many botanicals that have been recognized to varying degrees for anxiety (valerian, alphalinolenic acid, flaxseed, kava, gotu kola), some people may experience side effects and interactions from them as well. Plus, the time-frame for relief may seem too long with
some of them. But there is another clinically tested, but unexpected herbal ingredient for anxiety: Echinacea.
Getting the Right Echinacea for Anxiety
This is no ordinary echinacea extract. While most people think of echinacea as an immune booster during cold and flu season, there is a different, specialized root extract of Echinacea angustifolia, for anxiety, administered at low doses.
Not any echinacea will do. If you look for an extract that is formulated for immune health, it isn’t going to work to stop anxiety. For one thing, the dosage for immune health is very high – usually hundreds of milligrams per dose. For another, the species of echinacea for immune support is generally different than the clinically tested botanical I recommend for anxiety.
In fact, the discovery came about when researchers at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were analyzing different species of echinacea and found that some of the plants contained compounds that were known to influence brain chemistry, including cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoid receptors are known to influence the way the brain experiences anxiety, and have become a
focus of behavioral research in their own right.
Interestingly, a comparison test of different echinacea preparations showed that only one – Echinacea angustifolia – possessed high enough levels of compounds to show anxiolytic – that is, anxiety reducing - effects. And that’s the one I recommend.
In further study, 7 types of echinacea extracts were compared to the prescription anti-anxiety drug, chlordiazepoxide (also known by the
brand name Librium). While two echinacea preparations showed some mild effects, only one demonstrated a robust ability to reduce anxiety in a wide dosage range comparable to the prescription drug – the low-dose Echinacea angustifolia extract.
This special echinacea root extract not only met the drug’s anti-anxiety effects, but didn’t cause drowsiness either, a very common side
effect of prescription drugs for anxiety. I’ve mentioned side effects from prescription drugs before, and they are a real problem. In this case, aside from drowsiness and lethargy, the list of potential adverse effects of chlordiazepoxide also includes: confusion, edema, nausea,
constipation, menstrual abnormalities, jaundice, altered libido, involuntary movements, and controlled substance dependence/addiction.
And the potential serious adverse effects for the special echinacea preparation?
Strong Clinical Evidence
Then, the preparation of Echinacea angustifolia was tested with individuals experiencing increased anxiety and tension. After only one day of use, the participants experienced a significant reduction on the anxiety measurement scale, which increased to a 25%
reduction by day 7.
In a clinical study, published in the March 2012 issue of Phytotherapy Research, researchers found that this special echinacea extract significantly relieved anxiety within only 3 days!
The study included 33 volunteers, 22 women and 11 men with an average age of 41. All experienced mild anxiety. Anxiety was assessed using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), a validated method in measuring anxiety levels. Only individuals meeting the threshold for significant levels of anxiety were included in the study.
Participants used the echinacea extract for one week, and anxiety was evaluated before, during, and after using the product. A dose of two 20 mg tablets per day decreased STAI (both state and trait) scores within 3 days, an effect that remained stable for the duration of the treatment (7 days) and for the 2 weeks that followed treatment. There were no drop outs, demonstrating that the treatment was well tolerated. No adverse effects were recorded during the treatment period.
Aside from the lack of side effects, a fastacting, natural approach like this one makes life much better, much sooner. With other herbs, that’s not always the case. It takes 8 weeks for significant results with chamomile, 3 to 8 weeks for kava (depending upon whether it is a water or ethanolic extract), and 6 to 10 weeks for lavender. Whereas the fast-acting effects of Echinacea angustifolia can make a tremendous difference for people much sooner. Again, the total dose for the echinacea in the study was 40 mg a day. Other herbs require many
times that dosage. Chamomile, for example, can require a dose of over 1,000 mg per day.
An even more recent multi-center, placebocontrolled, double-blind Phase II study involved 26 volunteers showing generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) according to DSM-IV (Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria. This diagnosis was based on the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) performed by trained psychiatrists. The study started with a screening phase, followed by the six weeks of double-blind
During treatment, participants received either the Echinacea angustifolia or placebo tablets twice a day. The two kinds of tablets were entirely similar in appearance. Between visits 1 and 6 during the treatment period, the number of severely anxious patients (HADS-A scores larger than 11) decreased from 11 to nil in the echinacea group. In addition, the number of patients in the echinaeca group showing normal anxiety levels (HADS-A scores 0-7) increased from 1 to 8. The echinacea extract was very well tolerated, too.
The findings from this multi-center study showed that the specialized echinacea preparation significantly reduced anxiety in generalized anxiety patients over the reduction seen in the placebo group. The full effect developed within approximately 3 weeks.
While this is slower than in healthy controls, or those with mild to moderate anxiety, that is to be expected. The extract was still considerably faster than the results seen with most typical anxiolytic medications. The exception here is benzodiazepines, but that medication also produces significant side effects – sedation, muscle relaxation, and movement coordination problems – and has the potential to be
addictive. None of these are a concern for Echinacea angustifolia.
Dosage – More Is Not Better
Dosage levels of this specialized echinacea extract are very important. Anxiety relief only occurs at low doses, and disappears when the dosage is greatly increased. Typically no more than 20 mg at a time (occasionally up to 40 mg) is necessary for significant stress, tension
and anxiety relief. This extract can also be used several times a day if necessary. For people with only occasional bouts of anxiety it can be taken before a stressful event, such as public speaking, a presentation, or air travel.
You CAN Overcome Anxiety – Without Side Effects
Sometimes you can’t control stressful events. But when anxiety starts to take its toll, robbing you of rest, energy, and spirit, there is an effective natural intervention that can make a real difference in your life. This special echinacea extract, developed specifically to
reduce anxiety, works quickly to restore a sense of balance in your life. You will feel the difference the first day, and it keeps getting better. You can start on the road to getting your life back today.