Anxiety: Understand the role of herbal medicines

Tempo de Leitura: 3 minutos

Anxiety is an anticipation of future threat that presents symptomatology. Muscle tension, surveillance or preparedness for imminent dangers and cautionary or elusive behaviors are some of the symptoms. In addition, it may be sedimented in fear (emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat) and worry (unpleasant or uncomfortable thoughts that cannot be consciously controlled). In this perspective, its treatment is not restricted only to the use of medications. This is because it is necessary the joint activity of health professionals in to obtain satisfactory results. When it comes to the nutritionist, from the understanding of what the clinical picture is about and what physiological focus to act on, it is possible to use dietary interventions, supplements, herbal medicines and behavioral approaches. Understand a little about the role of the nutritionist in this context and the applications of herbal medicines in these cases.


The occurrence of anxiety-related disorders are common between 10 and 14 years and, predominantly, around 30 years of age. Being more common in women, non-Hispanic whites, older adults, widowers, separated or divorced. Although there are several types of anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, popularly known as GAD, is the most common mental disorder in children and adolescents.

However, its development is not associated with biological dysfunctions. Risk factors such as family or personal history of anxiety or mood disorders, female gender, lifestyle, socioeconomic characteristics, history of substance abuse also influence its development. In addition, a biological component is 1A serotonin receptor gene C polymorphism G. On the other hand, it is common to be associated with other conditions such as social anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, ADHD and personality disorder.


Initially, before the adoption of any approach, it is important to investigate the types of drugs used and possible recent drug changes. In addition to evaluating the use of benzodiazepines, alcohol, caffeine and illicit drugs. When it comes to medications, it is important to understand that abrupt stops can cause rebound effects, i.e., more intense anxious conditions. In addition, medical conditions such as endocrine, cardiopulmonary and neurological disorders influence the onset and intensity of symptomatology.

Complementary Exams

They are indicated only for conditions that there is clinical justification, such as when the patient presents dizziness and taquicardia, for example. Among them can be requested complete blood count, lipid profile and glucose fasting, electrolyte dosage, TSH, liver enzymes, urine toxicology for substance use and hemoglobin for anemia.

Therapeutic Target

The treatment is based on strategies that can be through feeding, supplementation and even use of herbal medicines aimed at regulating the function of neurotransmitters. Among them serotonin, GABA, norepinephrine and glutamate in the regions responsible for symptoms such as fear (amygdala-centered circuit) and concern (talamocortical striated cortic circuit), since the inhibition of neurons that are excited due to various stimuli decreases neuronal activity, functioning as an aniolytic sedation.

Clinical practice

Some herbal medicines help promote ansiolytic sedation. They are: Matricaria recutita with a dose of 4 to 24mg of apigenin acting on neural inhibition through GABA; Piper methysticum with a dose of 60 to 120mg of kavalactones acting as dopamine antagonist; Withania somnifera acting on gabaergic and serotonergic activity with a safe dose of 1000mg for up to 12 weeks. In addition, Passiflora incarnata, Valeriana officinalis and Melissa officinalis can also be indicated. However, life cycle, toxicity and side effects should be considered prior to prescription.

Bibliographic references

Reading Suggestion:
Probiotics in Anxiety Symptom Relief

Watch the video on the Science Play –
Herbal Medicines in The Management of Anxiety States

Article Anxiety and herbal medicines:Yeung KS, Hernandez M, Mao JJ, Haviland I, Gubili J. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety:
A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho-oncologic relevance.
Phytother Res. 2018 May;32(5):865-891. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6033. Epub 2018 Feb 21. PMID: 29464801; PMCID: PMC5938102.

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