Herbal medicine use and anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health condition in Australia. Over a quarter of Australian adults have reported having an anxiety disorder diagnosis in their lifetime. Approximately 14.4 % had a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder in the previous 12 months. Herbal medicines are being used by adults with anxiety and are commonly self-prescribed for anxiety symptoms.

There were 400 participants in this Australian study (203 males (50.8 %) and 197 females (49.3 %)). The mean age was 49.1 years (range 18 to 85 years). The majority of participants in this study (82.3 %) experienced anxiety symptoms in the previous 12 months, with 47 % reporting having previously been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. In addition, 72.8 % of participants had used herbal medicines specifically for anxiety symptoms in their lifetime, while 55.3 % had used prescribed pharmaceuticals. 27.5 % of participants had used herbal medicines concurrently with prescribed pharmaceuticals. Of those with an anxiety disorder diagnosis (n = 188), 83.5 % used herbal medicines for anxiety symptoms, which compared to 63.2 % of those without a disorder diagnosis (n = 134). The most commonly used herbal medicine to treat anxiety symptoms in the previous 12 months was chamomile (43 %), followed by lavender (32.5 %).

Herbal medicines are being used by adults with anxiety and are commonly self-prescribed for anxiety symptoms. The authors noted that health practitioners who are experts in herbal medicine prescribing were infrequently consulted.

 

McIntyre E, Saliba AJ, Wiener KK, and Sarris J. Herbal medicine use behaviour in Australian adults who experien AJce anxiety: a descriptive study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016; 16: 60.