Tumbavaquero (Ipomoea stans): Anti-Anxiety Herb

weight lossIpomoea is a group of flowering plants that belongs to the Convolvulaceae family of plants. This group of plants is dominated by climbing woody pants with heart-shaped leaves and funnel-shaped flowers. Common names for plants belonging to this group include morning glory, bindweed, sweet potato and moonflower. Ipomoea stans (known as Tumbavaquero in Mexico) is one species of Ipomoea plants that may have particular central nervous system effects. In Mexico, Ipomoea stans root extracts are used as part of the traditional medicine to treat a number of conditions including headaches and high blood pressure. Ipomoea stans extracts have also been shown to be an effective treatment for epileptic seizures. Other central nervous system effects for extracts of the Ipomoea stans include use as a sedative and as an anticonvulsant. The central nervous system effects seen with extracts of Ipomoea stans are consistent with modulation of the GABAA receptor in the brain and central nervous system.  

ipomoea stans anxiey depression

Extracts of Ipomoea stans have also been shown to possess significant antioxidant activity. The colours of the flowers of the Ipomoea stans suggests that they might contain polyphenols, particularly flavonoids. However, as the root is generally used medicinally, it is unclear if flavonoids contribute to the medicinal effects of the plant. However, the coumarin scopoletin has been isolated from roots of Ipomoea stans, and coumarins do possess significant biological effects as antioxidants in animals.

Animal studies suggest that Ipomoea stans may have particular mood elevating effects. For example, researchers have investigated the effects of root extracts of Ipomoea stans on mice. Administration of root extracts of Ipomoea stans to the mice had significant sedative and anticonvulsant effects. Researchers also observed significant reductions in the anxious behaviour displayed by the mice when they were exposed to experimental stress and this was shown to occur following increased release of GABA in the brains of the animals. The roots of Ipomoea possess a number of chemicals including tetrasaccharide resin glycosides that may be responsible for their central nervous system activity. One resin glycoside that has been isolated and evaluated for its neuroprotective ability is stansin. Administration of stansin to rats was able to significantly attenuate experimentally induced convulsions, decreased neuronal damage to part of the brain such as the hippocampus and reduced inflammation in the brains of the animals.

ipomoea stans anxiety mood

Ipomoea plants are characterised by their heart-shaped leaves and funnel shaped colorful flowers.

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Herrera-Ruiz, M., Gutiérrez, C., Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E., Tortoriello, J., Mirón, G. and León, I. 2007. Central nervous system depressant activity of an ethyl acetate extract from Ipomoea stans roots. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 112(2): 243-247
Meira, M., Silva, E. P. D., David, J. M. and David, J. P. 2012. Review of the genus Ipomoea: traditional uses, chemistry and biological activities. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. 22(3): 682-713
Reynolds, W. F., Yu, M., Enriquez, R. G., Gonzalez, H., Leon, I., Magos, G. and Villareal, M. L. 1995. Isolation and Characterization of Cytotoxic and Antibacterial Tetrasaccharide Glyclosides from Ipomoea stans. Journal of Natural Products. 58(11): 1730-1734
León-Rivera, I., Villeda-Hernández, J., Campos-Peña, V., Aguirre-Moreno, A., Estrada-Soto, S., Navarrete-Vázquez, G., Rios, M. Y., Aguilar-Guadarrama, B., Castillo-Espana, P. and  Rivera-Leyva, J. C. 2014. Evaluation of the neuroprotective activity of stansin 6, a resin glycoside from Ipomoea stans. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 24(15): 3541-3545
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Gastrodia elata: Another Anti-Anxiety Herb?

weight lossGastrodia elata is a perennial herb of the Orchidaceae (Orchid) family of plants. Gastrodia elata grows in parts of Asia including Nepal, Bhutan, Korea, Taiwan, Siberia, India and Japan. The plant grows in mountainous regions in forest clearings and it can reach approximately 2 meters in height, with a narrow stem and orange flowers. Gastrodia elata has a large rhizome (root) that has a historical use in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is used for its antioxidant, antiepileptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Gastrodia rhizome may also have certain effects on the central nervous system. For example, it has been shown that Gastrodia extracts may be useful in the treatment of convulsions. Convulsions are associated with a decrease in GABA levels and concomitant increase in glutamate levels in the brain. Gastrodia elata may attenuate these changes and prevent the development of convulsions.  Gastrodia elata may also be useful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and stress.

The anxiolytic effects of Gastrodia elata have been studied in animals. For example, in one study, researchers investigated the mood elevating effects of Gastrodia elata in mice. Mice were administered an extract of Gastrodia elata or phenolic components extracted from the herb. When the mice were exposed to experimental stress, the gastrodia extracts significantly reduced the anxious behaviour of the mice. Of the phenolic constituents administered to the mice, both 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol (HA) and 4-hyroxybenzaldehyde (HD) significantly reduced the anxious behaviour of the mice. The authors suggests that extracts of Gastrodia elata act on both the serotonergic and GABAergic systems in the mice. The effects on the serotonin system were likely elicited by 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, whereas the effects on the GABA system were likely elicited by the 4-hyroxybenzaldehyde. Therefore Gastrodia elata may have multiple mechanisms of action in the central nervous system and these may be due to the presence of phenolic acids.

gastrodia elata anxiety depression

Gastrodia elata extracts may be neuroprotective. For example, in cell culture models, Gastrodia elata extracts have been shown to possess neuroprotective effects. In particular, Gastrodia elata extracts have been shown to cause neurodegeneration by inhibiting stress related proteins and switching on neuroprotective genes. Administration of Gastrodia elata extract as a water solution is able to attenuate behavioural changes in rats when they are exposed to experimental stress. For example, one study showed increases in serotonin and dopamine turnover in cerebral tissue of rats after 4 weeks of exposure. Water extracts of Gastrodia elata are also able to significantly decrease corticosterone levels in rats. Both water extracts of Gastrodia elata and isolated gastrodin are also able to inhibit monoamine oxidase and have been shown to have antidepressant effects in rats. A number of chemicals have been isolated from Gastrodia elata extracts. These include a number of phenolic acids such as 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, vanillin, vanillyl alcohol gastrol and gastrodin. Of these gastrodin, 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde have been shown to contribute significantly to the central nervous system effects of Gastrodia elata extracts. One study showed that whole extracts of Gastrodia elata as well as isolated gastrodin and 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol all have antidepressant effects in rats. The antidepressant effects seen in these extracts are related to changes in monoamine levels in certain parts of the brain. Image from: By Qwert1234 – Qwert1234’s file, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9061124.

Animal studies have also shown that extracts of Gastrodia elata may possess antidepressant effects. For example, in one study researchers administered Gastrodia elata extracts to rats that were exposed to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that the Gastrodia elata extracts conferred significant antidepressant effects on the rats. Analysis of the rats neurochemistry showed that the Gastrodia elata extracts had significantly increase dopamine turnover in the stratum of the brains of the rats. Also of note was the observation that the antidepressant effects of Gastrodia elata was superior to that of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug fluoxetine. In this case fluoxetine showed no benefits when compared to the placebo. Extracts of Gastrodia elata may therefore be a viable alternative to the use of prescription drugs for the treatment of depression. This antidepressant effect may be modulated in part through changes to the dopamine levels in certain parts of the brain.

In another animal experiment, researchers administered Gastrodia elata extract to rats and exposed them to experimental stress. A 21 day dosing of the Gastrodia elata extract to the rats had significant antidepressant effects on the rats, and these effects were similar to the selective reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug fluoxetine. There was also a significant increase in the concentrations of serotonin in the frontal cortex and dopamine in the stratum of the brains of the rats, suggesting that the Gastrodia elata extract had significantly modified monoamine levels. One of the phenolic components within Gastrodia elata, gastrodin, has also been investigated for its anxiolytic effects. Rats were administered gastrodin and then exposed to prolonged stress that was designed to model post-traumatic stress. The gastrodin was significantly able to attenuate the anxious behaviour of the rats following prolonged stress exposure. In addition, the gastrodin also decreased levels of a number of markers of inflammation.

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Jung, J. W., Yoon, B. H., Oh, H. R., Ahn, J. H., Kim, S. Y., Park, S. Y. and Ryu, J. H. 2006. Anxiolytic-like effects of Gastrodia elata and its phenolic constituents in mice. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 29(2): 261-265
Hsieh, C. L., Tang, N. Y., Chiang, S. Y., Hsieh, C. T. and Lin, J. G. 1999. Anticonvulsive and free radical scavenging actions of two herbs, Uncaria rhynchophylla (MIQ) Jack and Gastrodia elata Bl., in kainic acid-treated rats. Life Sciences. 65(20): 2071-2082
Hayashi, J., Sekine, T., Deguchi, S., Lin, Q., Horie, S., Tsuchiya, S., Yano, S., Watanabe, K. and Ikegami, F. 2002. Phenolic compounds from Gastrodia rhizome and relaxant effects of related compounds on isolated smooth muscle preparation. Phytochemistry. 59(5): 513-519
Chen, P. J., Hsieh, C. L., Su, K. P., Hou, Y. C., Chiang, H. M., Lin, I. H. and Sheen, L. Y. 2008. The antidepressant effect of Gastrodia elata Bl. on the forced-swimming test in rats. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 36(01): 95-106
Chen, P. J., Hsieh, C. L., Su, K. P., Hou, Y. C., Chiang, H. M. and Sheen, L. Y. 2009. Rhizomes of Gastrodia elata BL possess antidepressant-like effect via monoamine modulation in subchronic animal model. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 37(06): 1113-1124
Peng, Z., Wang, H., Zhang, R., Chen, Y., Xue, F., Nie, H., Chen, Y., Wu, D., Wang, Y., Wang, H. Tan, Q. 2013. Gastrodin Ameliorates Anxiety-Like Behaviors and Inhibits IL-1 [Beta] Level and p38 MAPK Phosphorylation of Hippocampus in the Rat Model of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Physiological Research. 62(5): 537-545
Manavalan, A., Ramachandran, U., Sundaramurthi, H., Mishra, M., Sze, S. K., Hu, J. M., Feng, Z. W. and Heese, K. 2012. Gastrodia elata Blume (tianma) mobilizes neuro-protective capacities. International Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 3(2): 219-241
Chen, W. C., Lai, Y. S., Lin, S. H., Lu, K. H., Lin, Y. E., Panyod, S., Ho, C. and Sheen, L. Y. 2016. Anti-depressant effects of Gastrodia elata Blume and its compounds gastrodin and 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, via the monoaminergic system and neuronal cytoskeletal remodeling. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 182: 190-199
Lin, Y. E., Lin, S. H., Chen, W. C., Ho, C. T., Lai, Y. S., Panyod, S. and Sheen, L. Y. 2016. Antidepressant-like effects of water extract of Gastrodia elata Blume in rats exposed to unpredictable chronic mild stress via modulation of monoamine regulatory pathways. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 187: 57-65
Zhan, H. D., Zhou, H. Y., Sui, Y. P., Du, X. L., Wang, W. H., Dai, L., Sui, F., Huo, H. and Jiang, T. L. 2016. The rhizome of Gastrodia elata Blume–An ethnopharmacological review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 189: 361-385
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Edible Plants in the United Kingdom

Posted in Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Hawthorn, Nettle (Urtica dioica), Primrose vulgaris (English Primrose) | Comments Off on Edible Plants in the United Kingdom

Nardostachys jatamansi (Nard)

hard spikenard anxiety depression

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Galphimia Plants: Mood Elevating Goodness?

weight lossGalphimia is a Genus of plants that belongs to the Malpighiaceae family of flowering plants. There 26 species of plants in this group and they comprise plants that can be classified as shrubs or small trees. Evidence suggests that some of the species of plant belonging to galphimia group may have mood elevating properties. For example, Galphimia glauca is one species of galphimia plant that is used in Mexico as a traditional medicine to treat nervous excitement, and studies show that aerial parts of the plant may have sedative effects. These sedative effects may relate to the presence of a number of triterpenes called galphimines. Some evidence suggests that the sedative effects of Graphamia glauca was produced as a result of galphimine B being able to inhibit the activity of dopaminergic neurones in the ventral tegmental area. Toxicological and cytotoxic studies have been performed on extracts of Galphimia glauca, and in this regard the herbs has been shown to possess no apparent toxicological or genotoxic effects

The mood elevating effects of Galphimia glauca have been investigated in animal models. In one study, researchers administered Galphimia glauca to mice who where then exposed to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that various concentrations of extracts of Galphimia glauca were effective at significantly reducing the anxiety experienced by the mice. In animal models of mood disorders, Galphimia glauca has also been shown to increase sleeping time in mice and to reduce the stimulant effects of drugs. Animal experiments confirm that that the anxiolytic effects of extracts of Galphimia glauca may relate to the presence of galphimines in the extracts. Pharmacological studies have investigated the kinetics of galphamines and shown that they are absorbed to the blood and then subsequently cross the blood brain barrier in animals models using rodents. Therefore compounds in Galphimia glauca may act directly on the central nervous system and cause changes that may improve mood.

galphimia glauca anxiety

Galphimia glauca contains a group of triterpenes called galphimine, and of these graphamine B B has been shown to be the most bioactive form. However, Galphimia glauca may contain a number of other chemicals that could explain its mood elevating effects. In particular, studies have shown that aerial extracts of the plant contain the flavonoid quercetin and the phenolic acids gallic acid and gentisic acid. Evidence suggests that galphimine B interacts with the dopaminergic system without activating the GABAA receptor. However, other studies have shown that flavonoids including quercetin my activate the GABAA receptor. There is an intriguing possibility that extracts of Galphimia glauca may therefore have multiple mechanisms of action in the central nervous systems of mammals. In a human study, researchers administered extracts of Galphimia glauca standardised to contain 0.175 mg of galphimine B to patients suffering from the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) for 15 weeks. The results of this study showed that the Galphimia glauca extracts were able to reduce the anxiety scores of the patients to a greater extent that compared to the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam. Further, the authors noted that the Galphimia glauca extracts showed no problems with tolerability or toxicity. Image from: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52007.

Human studies have also been performed to investigate the mood elevating effects of Galphimia glauca. In one such study, researchers administered Galphimia glauca extracts to individuals who were diagnosed with suffering from the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) for 4 weeks. The results of the study showed that the aqueous extracts of Galphimia glauca displayed significant anxiolytic effects in the subjects, and the authors noted that these effects were similar to the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam. The authors also noted that the Galphimia extracts showed significantly greater tolerability compared to the lorazepam. The extract used in this human trial was a standardised extract of Galphimia glauca, containing 0.348 mg or galphimine B. Therefore extracts of the aerial parts of Galphimia glauca appear to be effective in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), and this may relate to a non-GABAergic mechanisms of action that may involve modification of the dopaminergic system.

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Herrera-Ruiz, M., Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E., De Lima, T. C. M., Avilés-Montes, D., Pérez-García, D., González-Cortazar, M. and Tortoriello, J. 2006. Anxiolytic and antidepressant-like activity of a standardized extract from Galphimia glauca. Phytomedicine. 13(1-2): 23-28
Tortoriello, J. and Ortega, A. 1993. Sedative effect of galphimine B, a nor-seco-triterpenoid from Galphimia glauca. Planta Medica. 59(05): 398-400
Tortoriello, J., Ortega, A., Herrera-Ruíz, M., Trujillo, J. and Reyes-Vázquez, C. 1998. Galphimine-B modifies electrical activity of ventral tegmental area neurons in rats. Planta Medica. 64(04): 309-313
Herrera-Arellano, A., Jiménez-Ferrer, E., Zamilpa, A., Morales-Valdéz, M., García-Valencia, C. E. and Tortoriello, J. 2007. Efficacy and tolerability of a standardized herbal product from Galphimia glauca on generalized anxiety disorder. A randomized, double-blind clinical trial controlled with lorazepam. Planta Medica. 73(08): 713-717
Aguilar-Santamaría, L., Ramírez, G., Herrera-Arellano, A., Zamilpa, A., Jiménez, J. E., Alonso-Cortés, D., Cortés-Gutiésrrez., Ledesman, N. and Tortoriello, J. 2007. Toxicological and cytotoxic evaluation of standardized extracts of Galphimia glauca. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 109(1): 35-40
Herrera-Ruiz, M., González-Cortazar, M., Jiménez-Ferrer, E., Zamilpa, A., Álvarez, L., Ramírez, G. and Tortoriello, J. 2006. Anxiolytic effect of natural galphimines from Galphimia glauca and their chemical derivatives. Journal of Natural Products. 69(1): 59-61
Guzmán Gutiérrez, S. L., Reyes Chilpa, R. and Bonilla Jaime, H. 2014. Medicinal plants for the treatment of “nervios”, anxiety, and depression in Mexican Traditional Medicine. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. 24(5): 591-608
Tortoriello, J., Herrera-Arellano, A., Herrera-Ruiz, M. L., Zamilpa, A., González-Cortazar, M., and Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E. 2011. New anxiolytic phytopharmaceutical elaborated with the standardized extract of Galphimia glauca. In Anxiety Disorders. InTech
Vargas, R. A., Zamilpa, A., Aguilar, F. A., Herrera-Ruiz, M., Tortoriello, J. and Jiménez-Ferrer, E. 2014. Pharmacokinetic Study in Mice of Galphimine-A, an Anxiolytic Compound from Galphimia glauca. Molecules. 19: 3120-3134
Cardoso Taketa, A. T., Lozada-Lechuga, J., Fragoso-Serrano, M., Villarreal, M. L. and Pereda-Miranda, R. 2004. Isolation of nor-secofriedelanes from the sedative extracts of Galphimia glauca. Journal of Natural Products. 67(4): 644-649
Herrera-Arellano, A., Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E., Zamilpa, A., García-Alonso, G., Herrera-Alvarez, S. and Tortoriello, J. 2012. Therapeutic effectiveness of Galphimia glauca vs. lorazepam in generalized anxiety disorder. A controlled 15-week clinical trial. Planta Medica-Natural Products and Medicinal Plant Research. 78(14): 1-7
Tortoriello, J. and Lozoya, X. 1992. Effect of Galphimia glauca methanolic extract on neuropharmacological tests. Planta Medica. 58(03): 234-236
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Erythrina velutina: A Leguminous Anxiety Cure?

weight lossErythrina velutina is species of tree that belongs to the Fabaceae or legume family of plants. Common names for the tree include mulunga. Erythrina velutina is a perennial deciduous trees that can reach heights of around 10 meters and it grows native to South America. In Brazil, extracts of Erythrina velutina are used in traditional medicine for convulsions and sleep disturbances, which suggests that it may have inhibitory effects in the central nervous system. A number of studies have looked at the behavioural effects of Erythrina velutina extracts in animals. For example in one study, researchers administered ground bark extracts of Erythrina velutina to rats and exposed them to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that the Erythrina extracts had significant anxiolytic effects in the rats that were similar to the benzodiazepine drug diazepam. The authors concluded that the results of the study suggest that Erythrina velutina may have significant anti-anxiety effects in mammals.

erythrina veltina anxiety

Studies have investigated the mechanism of action by which Erythrina velutina may cause its sedative and anxiolytic effects. In this regard, evidence suggests that compounds in Erythrina extracts may activate the GABAA receptor, may alter acetylcholine release, and may cause other cellular effects such as changes to the calcium ion concentration in neurones. These may explain the neurochemical effects of the herb. Image is Erythrina velutina tree blossom. Image from: Tatiana Gerus from Brisbane, Australia (Erythrina velutina Uploaded by berichard) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Researchers also investigated the mood elevating effects of Erythrina velutina on mice. Chronic (25 to 26 day) administration of Erythrina velutina extract significantly decreased the anxious behaviour in the mice when exposed to experimental stress. The central nervous system effects of Erythrina velutina leaf extracts have also been compared to those of the benzodiazepine drug diazepam. In this regard the Erythrina velutina extracts showed significant anxiolytic effects, a certain degree of inhibition of the acquisition of but not the consolidation of new memories and also demonstrated anti-convulsant effects in rats. The authors suggested that the Erythrina velutina leaf extracts had similar effects to benzodiazepine, and may therefore be activating the GABAA receptor. Extracts of Erythrina velutina have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in animals. As inflammation is able to cause neuronal damage through activation of free radicals and oxidative stress, this may suggest that the herb is also neuroprotective.

In another study researchers administered Erythrina velutina leaf extracts to mice. The extracts were able to significantly extend the sleeping time of the mice, suggesting that Erythrina velutina has sedative properties. However, in this study the sedative properties were only evident at higher doses, at lower doses there was some interference with memorising different tasks. The reductions in the memory of the animal may be due to the fact that Erythrina velutina contains the alkaloid (dihydro-β-erythroidine) that may be potent antagonist of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. As activation of these receptors is involved in excitatory and memory enhancing effects in the central nervous system, blockade of the receptor would be expected to have particular sedative and memory inhibiting effects. Another group of researchers showed that extracts of Erythrina velutina had significant sedative effects on mice, suggesting that the historical use of Erythrina velutina as a tranquilizer has some merit.  

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Ribeiro, M. D., Onusic, G. M., Poltronieri, S. C. and Viana, M. B. 2006. Effect of Erythrina velutina and Erythrina mulungu in rats submitted to animal models of anxiety and depression. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. 39(2): 263-270
Dantas, M. D., De Oliveira, F. S., Bandeira, S. M., Batista, J. S., Silva Jr, C. D., Alves, P. B., Antoniolli, A. R. and Marchioro, M. 2004. Central nervous system effects of the crude extract of Erythrina velutina on rodents. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 94(1): 129-133
Williams, M. I. C. H. A. E. L. and Robinson, J. L. 1984. Binding of the nicotinic cholinergic antagonist, dihydro-beta-erythroidine, to rat brain tissue. Journal of Neuroscience. 4(12): 2906-2911
Raupp, I. M., Sereniki, A., Virtuoso, S., Ghislandi, C., e Silva, E. C., Trebien, H. A., Miguel, O. G. and Andreatini, R. 2008. Anxiolytic-like effect of chronic treatment with Erythrina velutina extract in the elevated plus-maze test. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 118(2): 295-299
Vasconcelos, S. M., Macedo, D. S., Melo, C. T. V., Monteiro, A. P., Cunha, G., Sousa, F. C. F., abd Silveira, E. R. 2004. Central activity of hydroalcoholic extracts from Erythrina velutina and Erythrina mulungu in mice. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 56(3): 389-393
Teixeira-Silva, F., Santos, F. N., Sarasqueta, D. F. O., Alves, M. F. S., Neto, V. A., de Paula, I. C. M., Estevam, C. S., Antonioli, A. R. Marchioro, M. 2008. Benzodiazepine-Like Effects of the Alcohol Extract from Erythrina velutina. Leaves: Memory, Anxiety, and Epilepsy. Pharmaceutical Biology. 46(5): 321-328
Carvalho, A. C. C., Almeida, D. S., Melo, M. G., Cavalcanti, S. C. and Marçal, R. M. 2009. Evidence of the mechanism of action of Erythrina velutina Willd (Fabaceae) leaves aqueous extract. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 122(2): 374-378
Vasconcelos, S. M., Sales, G. T., Lima, N., Lobato, R. D. F. G., Silveira, D., Oliveira, J. L. and Viana, G. S. Anti-inflammatory activities of the hydroalcoholic extracts from Erythrina velutina and E. mulungu in mice. Brazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy. 21(6): 1155-1158
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Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium): Anxiety Cure?

weight lossBitter orange (Citrus aurantium) is a type of citrus tree native to Asia, but which is now found all over the World. Other common names for bitter orange include Seville orange, sour orange, bigarade orange or malalade orange. Bitter orange has traditionally been grown for its distinctive orange fruit that can be used for culinary flavouring or to make marmalade. Bitter orange extracts can also be used as a stimulant for weight loss due to the presence of the bioactive compound synephrine. Bitter orange fruit peel and leaves contains an essential oil that may have mood elevating and sedative effects. For example, the effects of essential oil of Citrus aurantium have been investigated in animal models of mood. In one study, inhalation of essential oil of Citrus aurantium was effective at reducing anxiety in rats exposed to experimental stress. In particular the social interaction observed in the rats was longer than observed for that of the benzodiazepine drug diazepam, suggesting the effects for the essential oil were superior.  

bitter orange synephrine anxiety depression

The beneficial effects of orange essential oil may not be limited to Citrus aurantium. In this regard, essence of orange oil (Citrus sinensis) has also been shown to have beneficial effects against anxiety in humans. For example, in one study researchers diffused orange odour from Citrus sinensis into a waiting room of a dentist. Self reported feelings of anxiety were significantly lowered by use of the oil compared to control conditions. The study participants also reported greater calmness and a more positive mood after exposure to the orange odour. In another similar study involving human subjects, odor of orange (Citrus sinensis) was used to decrease the anxiety, improve the mood, and increase the calmness of patients waiting for dental procedures in a waiting room.

The effects of Citrus aurantium essential oil has also been shown to reduce the anxiety associated with labour in humans. For example, one study administered Citrus aurantium essential oil was administered via inhalation to women in the final stages of labour. The essential oil was effective at reducing the anxiety experienced by the women compared to a control group who received a placebo. In another study, researchers investigated the effects of Citrus aurantium essential oil extracted from blossom on subjects undergoing operative procedures. The Citrus aurantium essential oil was administered orally to the subjects prior to their operation. The Citrus aurantium essential oil was effective at reducing the anxious behaviour displayed by the subjects suggesting that it possessed anxiolytic effects. Evidence suggests that bitter orange extracts contain linalool, flavonoids and phenolic acids. This may explain the anxiolytic effects of extracts of essential oils from Citrus aurantium, as all these compounds may have mood elevating effects.

bitter orange anxiety depression

Citrus smells from essential oils have been shown to possess a number of physiological effects. For example, increased alpha wave state, reductions in heart rate and a 12 % increase in the parasympathetic nervous system and a 16 % decrease in the sympathetic nervous system, all indicate a calming and relaxing effect for citrus oils. Extracts of bitter orange have been investigated for their safety. In this regard, research shows that bitter orange extracts containing synephrine produced no toxicity when administered at 98 mg per day for 60 days.

Researchers have investigated the effects of Citrus aurantium on animals models of anxiety. For example, in one study researchers assessed the effects of essential oils from Citrus aurantium peel on the behaviour of mice exposed to experimental stress. Extracts of the oil were effective at reducing the burying behaviour of the mice, a behaviour that is an animal model of obsessive compulsive disorder, a form of anxiety. In another experiment, essential oil from Citrus aurantium was administered to mice and shown to increase the sleeping time of the mice, but did not cause changes to general activity or muscle coordination. Further when the mice were exposed to experimental stress, the essential oil of Citrus aurantium was able to significantly reduce anxious behaviour. In another experiment, Citrus aurantium showed significant anxiolytic effects in mice exposed to experimental stress. The researcher provided evidence that this effect occurred through modulation of serotonin receptors in the brains of the mice.

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de Moraes Pultrini, A., Galindo, L. A. and Costa, M. 2006. Effects of the essential oil from Citrus aurantium L. in experimental anxiety models in mice. Life Sciences. 78(15): 1720-1725
Carvalho-Freitas, M. I. R. and Costa, M. 2002. Anxiolytic and sedative effects of extracts and essential oil from Citrus aurantium L. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 25(12): 1629-1633
Lehrner, J., Eckersberger, C., Walla, P., Pötsch, G. and Deecke, L. 2000. Ambient odor of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients. Physiology and behavior. 71(1-2): 83-86
Lehrner, J., Marwinski, G., Lehr, S., Johren, P. and Deecke, L. 2005. Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiology and Behavior. 86 (1-2): 92-95
Leite, M. P., Fassin Jr, J., Baziloni, E. M., Almeida, R. N., Mattei, R. and Leite, J. R. Behavioral effects of essential oil of Citrus aurantium L. inhalation in rats. Brazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy. 18: 661-666
Namazi, M., Akbari, S. A. A., Mojab, F., Talebi, A., Majd, H. A. and Jannesari, S. 2014. Aromatherapy with citrus aurantium oil and anxiety during the first stage of labor. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal. 16(6): DOI: 10.5812/ircmj.18371
Akhlaghi, M., Shabanian, G., Rafieian-Kopaei, M., Parvin, N., Saadat, M. and Akhlaghi, M. 2011. Citrus aurantium blossom and preoperative anxiety. Revista Brasileira de Anestesiologia. 61(6): 707-712
Costa, C. A., Cury, T. C., Cassettari, B. O., Takahira, R. K., Flório, J. C. and Costa, M. 2013. Citrus aurantium L. essential oil exhibits anxiolytic-like activity mediated by 5-HT 1A-receptors and reduces cholesterol after repeated oral treatment. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 13(1): 42
Kaats, G. R., Miller, H., Preuss, H. G. and Stohs, S. J. 2013. A 60 day double-blind, placebo-controlled safety study involving Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) extract. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 55: 358-362
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Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis): A Possible Treatment for Mood Disorders?

weight lossAngelica sinensis is a herb from the Umbelliferae family, which also include celery, carrots and parsley. The common name for Angelica sinensis is dong quai. Dong quai grows in the mountainous regions of East Asia countries including Korea, China and Japan. The roots of dong quai have historically been harvested and used in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for a number of conditions most notable female reproductive problems. In this regard, studies show that dong quai produces a volatile essential oil that contains a number of chemicals including ligustilide, butylene phthalide and butylphthalide. This volatile oil may have have muscle relaxing effects on the uteru and may relieve dysmenorrhoea. Some evidence also suggests that this volatile oil also have sedative effects due to the activity of lingustide. Because the volatile oil in dong quai is known to have particular sedative properties, a number of researchers have investigated associated effects including the mood elevating effects of the herb.

dong quai anxiety depression

The essential oil of Angelica sinensis (dong quai) contains a number of chemicals including ligustilide, butylene phthalide and butylphthalide, which are thought to be the main bioactive chemicals. Evidence suggests that components of this essential oil are able to bind to the GABA receptor and this may explain the anxiolytic effects of dong quai. Modulation of GABA receptors has been shown to relate to improvements in anxiety in women which may make dong quai useful in the treatment of both premenstrual tension (PMS) and menopause problems, both of which can be associated with anxiety. In other studies dong quai extracts containing ligustilide were shown to promote the regeneration of neuronal tissue and ameliorate the memory decline associated with cerebral injury in rats. Dong quai may therefore have neuroprotective effects in animals. Dong quai essential oil may also increase the sociability of animals in experimental conditions. For example, in one study, researchers administered dong quai essential oil to rats and observed an increase in the sociability of the rats as indicated by a significant increase in social interaction and a significant decrease in aggressive behaviour. The authors concluded that dong quai shows potential usefulness as a treatment for various anxiety related disorders.

For example, in one study researchers investigated the mood elevating effects of dong quai in animals models of anxiety. The essential oil of dong quai was shown to significantly reduce the anxious behaviour of the mice when they were exposed to experimental stress. In another experiment the administration of dong quai significantly inhibited the development of hypothermia in mice exposed to extreme cold. In some of these tests the higher doses of dong quai had similar effects to the anxiolytic benzodiazepine drug diazepam. An antidepressant effect has also been observed for extracts of dong quai. For example, in one study, researchers administered Angelica sinensis to rats who were exposed to experimental stress, and the extract significantly reduced the depressive symptoms displayed by the rats. These effects were mediated through attenuation of the fall in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that occurs in response to stress. The fall in BDNF may be one cause of the development of depression.  

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Chen, S. W., Min, L., Li, W. J., Kong, W. X., Li, J. F. and Zhang, Y. J. 2004. The effects of angelica essential oil in three murine tests of anxiety. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 79(2): 377-382
Deng, S., Chen, S. N., Lu, J., Wang, Z. J., Nikolic, D., Breemen, R. B. V., Santarsiero, B. D., Mesecar, A., Fong, H. H. S., Farnsworth, N. R. and Pauli, G. F. 2006. GABAergic phthalide dimers from Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. Phytochemical analysis. 17(6): 398-405
Barbaccia, M. L., Lello, S., Sidiropoulou, T., Cocco, T., Sorge, R. P., Cocchiarale, A., Piermarini, V., Sabato, A. F., Trabucchi, M. and Romanini, C. 2000. Plasma 5α–androstane–3α, 17βdiol, an endogenous steroid that positively modulates GABAA receptor function, and anxiety: a study in menopausal women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 25(7): 659-675
Xin, J., Zhang, J., Yang, Y., Deng, M. and Xie, X. 2013. Radix Angelica Sinensis that contains the component Z-ligustilide promotes adult neurogenesis to mediate recovery from cognitive impairment. Current Neurovascular Research. 10(4): 304-315
Shen, J., Zhang, J., Deng, M., Liu, Y., Hu, Y. and Zhang, L. 2016. The antidepressant effect of angelica sinensis extracts on chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced depression is mediated via the upregulation of the BDNF signaling pathway in rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016. Article ID 7434692
Min, L., Chen, S. W., Li, W. J., Wang, R., Li, Y. L., Wang, W. J. and Mi, X. J. 2005. The effects of angelica essential oil in social interaction and hole-board tests. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 81(4): 838-842
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Nepeta Plants (E.g. Catnip)

nepeta plants catnip anxiety depression

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Passiflora edulis (Passion Fruit)

passion flower fruit pasiflora anxiety

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