Less investigation has taken place to determine the role of valerian as a treatment for anxiety states. The few studies published thus far have produced encouraging results, but are hampered by methodological problems and well conducted trials are still required.
A randomised study found that low-dose valerian (100 mg) reduced situational anxiety without causing sedation (Kohnen & Oswald 1988). Positive results were also obtained in a smaller open study of 24 patients suffering from stress-induced insomnia who found treatment (valerian 600 mg/day for 6 weeks) significantly reduced symptoms of stress and insomnia (Wheatley 2001). Another randomised trial compared the effects of a preparation of valepotriates (mean daily dose 81.3 mg) with diazepam (mean daily dose 6.5 mg) and placebo in 36 outpatients with GAD under double-blind conditions (Andreatini et al 2002). After 4 weeks' treatment, all groups had significant reductions in Hamilton anxiety (HAM-A) scale scores; however, only those receiving valepotriates or diazepam showed a significant reduction in the psychic factor of HAM-A.
Kava kava is a herbal medicine also used in the treatment of anxiety and found to be effective in clinical studies (Pittler & Ernst 2002). A study that compared the effects of kava kava to valerian and placebo in a standardised mental stress test found that both herbal treatments reduced systolic blood pressure, prevented a stress-induced rise in heart rate and decreased self-reported feelings of stress (Cropley et al 2002).
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