Tilia Americana (Basswood): Anxiety Treatment?

weight lossTilia Americana is a species of tree from the Malvaceae (mallows) family of tree. Common names for this tree include American basswood or American linden. This family contains a number of trees of economic importance including cotton and cacao. The tree is a deciduous tree that grows to a height of between 20 to 40 meters and has a trunk diameter of 1 to 1.5 meters. American basswood grows fast compared to other North American hardwoods. American basswood trees are known to possess medicinal properties, and in this regard the flowers, bark and leaves may be used as traditional medicines. The flowers of the tree contain a volatile oil which has medicinal properties, and the tissues of the tree also contain a range of phytochemical components including flavonoids, which may act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in humans and animals when consumed. Traditionally basswood flowers are added to baths to provide an anxiety cure, and this effect may relate to the essential oils in the flowers.  

tilia americana linden anxiety depression

American basswood has been shown to contain a number of flavonoids including quercetin, kaempferol and a number of quercetin glycosides. These flavonoids may be responsible for the anxiolytic effects of American basswood. Evidence shows that extracts containing these flavonoids may cause modulation to serotonin receptors suggesting that one way American basswood may elevate mood is through modulation to serotonin receptors.

A number of studies have investigated the anxiolytic effects of basswood extracts on animals. For example, in one study, researchers administered aerial parts of the basswood tree to mice and exposed them to experimental stress. Methanol extracts of the tree, but not hexane extracts produced significant anxiolytic effects in the mice. This suggests that the anxiolytic components were not soluble in hexane, but were soluble in methanol. Analysis of the methanol fraction showed that it contained four flavonoids which were identified as tiliroside, quercetin, quercitrin, kaempferol. These flavonoids may therefore be responsible in part for the anxiolytic effects of American basswood. In another study, researchers isolated four fatty acids and a triterpene that was identified as β-sitosterol from American basswood. These components were then shown to have anxiolytic and sedative effects in mice. Therefore flavonoids, fatty acids and triterpenes may all contribute towards the anxiolytic effects of American basswood.

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Herrera-Ruiz, M., Román-Ramos, R., Zamilpa, A., Tortoriello, J. and Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E. 2008. Flavonoids from Tilia americana with anxiolytic activity in plus-maze test. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 118(2): 312-317
Aguirre-Hernández, E., Rosas-Acevedo, H., Soto-Hernández, M., Martínez, A. L., Moreno, J. and González-Trujano, M. E. 2007. Bioactivity-guided isolation of β-sitosterol and some fatty acids as active compounds in the anxiolytic and sedative effects of Tilia americana var. mexicana. Planta Medica. 73(11): 1148-1155
Noguerón-Merino, M. C., Jiménez-Ferrer, E., Román-Ramos, R., Zamilpa, A., Tortoriello, J. and Herrera-Ruiz, M. 2015. Interactions of a standardized flavonoid fraction from Tilia americana with Serotoninergic drugs in elevated plus maze. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 164: 319-327
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Cat’s Claw (Uncaria rhynchophylla) as a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor

weight lossMonoamines are a group of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain that include serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown of monoamines in the brain and the peripheral nervous system. Monoamine oxidases exists in two forms, MAO A and MAO B, and these have slightly different but overlapping affinities for various monoamines. Ageing causes an increase in MAO activity which might explain the increased risk of depression and anxiety with age. Some herbs are excellent MAO inhibitors. For example, extracts of the hooks of the Uncaria rhynchophylla (cat’s claw) plant has been shown to inhibit MAO B. Cat’s claw hooks contain epicatechin and catechin, and these flavonoids may be responsible at least in part for the inhibitory effect of MAO B. By inhibiting MAO B. Green tea is also an excellent source of epicatechin and catechin, which may explain the mood elevating effects of green tea.

cat's claw anxiety depression

Monoamine oxidase B is tasked mainly with metabolising dopamine. Whereas Monoamine oxidase A metabolises dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. Inhibition of monoamine oxidase B therefore might be expected to raise levels of dopamine in certain parts of the brain. Image shows the hooks of the cat’s claw vine which contain the flavonoids epicatechin and catechin. Image from: By keisotyo – 自分で撮影, CC BY-SA 4.0, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/ w/ index.php?curid=9466954.

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Hou, W. C., Lin, R. D., Chen, C. T. and Lee, M. H. 2005. Monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibition by active principles from Uncaria rhynchophylla. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 100(1-2): 216-220
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Convulvulus Pluricaulis As A Mood Enhancer

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Valeriana edulis (Edible Valerian): Sedative Plant?

weight lossValeriana edulis is more commonly called the tobacco root or edible valerian. It is a perennial flowering plant characterised by its sparsely leaved stems and clusters of small cream or white flowers that appear in the summer months. Valeriana edulis is closely related to elderberry, honeysuckle and teasel and in this regard is a member of the Caprifoliaceae family. As the common name suggests, edible valerian can be used as a food and eaten. However, edible valerian may also have medicinal effects similar to Valeriana officinalis (valerian). For example, Valarian edulis has been investigated for its sedative effects in humans. In one study, 450 mg of Valaria edulis was administered to human subjects with insomnia. The results of the study showed that Valeriana edulis showed beneficial effects on sleep architecture by increasing deep state delta sleep time. Therefore Valeriana edulis may have beneficial effects on sleep in humans, and this may relate to a sedative effect from the phytochemicals in the plant.   

valerian anxiety depression

Research has analysed the chemical components of Valerian edulis and shown that the sedative effects may be due to a group of chemicals called the valepotriates. The main valepotriate is thought to be dihydroisovaltrate which is present in extracts at about 0.26 % of the total. However, Valerian edulis does not contain valerenic acid, one of the valepotriates present in Valerian officinalis, and may therefore exert its sedative effects via different phytochemicals. Image from: By JW Stockert – http://www.nps.gov/ archive/ yell/ slidefile/ plants/ miscellaneous/ Page.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/ w/index.php?curid=4028372.

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Herrera-Arellano, A., Luna-Villegas, G., Cuevas-Uriostegui, M. L., Alvarez, L., Vargas-Pineda, G., Zamilpa-Alvarez, A. and Tortoriello, J. 2001. Polysomnographic evaluation of the hypnotic effect of Valeriana edulis standardized extract in patients suffering from insomnia. Planta Medica. 67(08): 695-699
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Ginger (Zingiber officinale) as an Anxiety Treatment

weight lossGinger (Zingiber officinale) is a perennial flowering plant that is used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. The rhizome of the plant is used for this purpose and is often called ginger root or ginger. Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric, the Zingiberaceae family, and this may explain the similar anti-inflammatory effects these plants possess. As well as being good anti-inflammatories, rhizomes of both plants also contain high amounts of antioxidants. Turmeric has been shown to possess significant antidepressant and anxiolytic effects in humans and animals, and this may relate to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Therefore it is no surprise that ginger shares some of the same mood elevating properties. For example, in one study, researchers investigated the effects of ginger rhizome extracts on rats. Extract of the dried rhizome showed significant anxiolytic, anticonvulsant and sedative effects on the rats, which was similar to the benzodiazepine drug diazepam.

ginger anxiety depression

Analysis of ginger root extracts used for their anti-anxiety effects suggest that they contain gingerol, and that these compounds may exert part of their activity through the 5-HT3 receptor. Interaction with the 5-HT3 receptor may give gingerol benzodiazepine-like activity. However, ginger is both an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and this combination may contribute towards the mood elevating effects of ginger.

In another study, researchers assessed the effects of ginger root in combination with Ginkgo biloba extract in rats. The results of the study showed that the ginger and ginkgo combination had significant anxiolytic effects on the animals, and that these effects were comparable to the anxiolytic drug diazepam. In another similar study, the mood elevating effects of a combination of ginger and ginkgo were investigated in rats. The results of the study showed that the combination of ginger and ginkgo was effective at reducing the anxious behaviour of the rats, when given in a ratio of 2.5 part ginger to 1 part ginkgo extract. The researchers also demonstrated impaired memory function with use of diazepam in the rats, but not such impairment of memory with the ginger and ginkgo combination. Therefore ginger may be useful as a anxiolytic both alone, and in combination with Ginkgo biloba. As ginger is a food, it is quite safe and can be added to foods and drinks to improve flavour or taken as a supplement.

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Vishwakarma, S. L., Pal, S. C., Kasture, V. S. and Kasture, S. B. 2002. Anxiolytic and antiemetic activity of Zingiber officinale. Phytotherapy Research. 16(7): 621-626
asenöhrl, R. U., Nichau, C. H., Frisch, C. H., Silva, M. D. S., Huston, J. P., Mattern, C. M. and Häcker, R. 1996. Anxiolytic-like effect of combined extracts of Zingiber officinale and Ginkgo biloba in the elevated plus-maze. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 53(2): 271-275
Hasenöhrl, R. U., Frisch, C., Häcker, R., Mattern, C. M. and Huston, J. P. 1998. Dissociation between anxiolytic and hypomnestic effects for combined extracts of Zingiber officinale and Ginkgo biloba, as opposed to diazepam. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 59(2): 527-535
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Complementary Medicine for Treating Anxiety and Depression

weight lossThe treatment of mental health issues is a growing concern. Part of this stems from an increased understanding of mental health that has become possible because of better and more efficient diagnosis, but part has stemmed from what appears to be a real increase in the number of people suffering from mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety. Amongst the general populations of the Western developed countries there are a large number of individuals that suffer from mild to moderate depression or mild to moderate anxiety, the latter often referred to as the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). These disorders are chronic and mildly debilitating, but often medical help is not sought by the sufferers in a similar way that many struggle with neck and back pain but never seek medical assistance. The cause of the increased cases of depression and anxiety in the population as a whole is not fully understood, but it might be due to a combination of poor diet and increased levels of stress.

anxiety depression

One complementary therapy that has been shown repeatedly to be effective for the treatment of mood disorders is nutrition. In fact nutrition should not really be considered a therapy as it is a core function of human existence. It should be no surprise to those that have studied nutrition, that high quality foods are protective of mental health and low quality foods greatly increase the risk of developing poor health including detrimental changes to mood.

Studies have investigated the use of complementary therapies by people suffering from mild to moderate depression and anxiety. In one study of over 2000 individuals, researchers identified 9.4 % of the individuals as suffering from “anxiety attacks” over the previous 12 months and 7.2 % of the individuals as suffering from “severe depression” over the same period. Of these respondent, 56.7 % of those suffering from anxiety and 53.6 % of those suffering from depression reported using complementary therapies as treatment during that period. However, of these individuals, only 20.0 % and 19.3 % of those suffering from anxiety or depression, respectively, visited a complementary therapist. However, 65.9 % and 66.7 % of those suffering from anxiety or depression, respectively, had been to see a conventional therapist but also been to see a complementary therapist. Interestingly of those individuals that had undertaken both conventional and complementary therapy, there was no perceived difference in the outcomes.

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Kessler, R. C., Soukup, J., Davis, R. B., Foster, D. F., Wilkey, S. A., Van Rompay, M. I. and Eisenberg, D. M. 2001. The use of complementary and alternative therapies to treat anxiety and depression in the United States. American Journal of Psychiatry. 158(2): 289-294
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Convolvulus pluricaulis

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Glucosamine Sulphate to Treat Anxiety?

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Mulberry (Morus alba) Leaves: Anxiety Treatment?

weight lossThe mulberry tree is a fast growing deciduous tree that belongs to the Moraceae family of plant. The mulberry tree is widely cultivated and the leaves and roots are used in traditional medicine to treat a number of conditions including pain, hypertension and oedema. That mulberry may be useful in the treatment of mood disorders is evidence anecdotally in its use as a sedative, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory, as well as by its high content of antioxidant phytochemicals. Researchers have investigated the effects of mulberry leaf extracts on animal models of anxiety. For example, in one study researcher administered mulberry leaf extracts to mice and then exposed them to experimental stress. The results of the experiment showed that the mulberry leaf extracts significantly reduced the anxious behaviour in the rats in a similar way to diazepam. In addition, there was a significant sedative effect observed in the animals. This suggests that mulberry leaf extracts may have anxiolytic effects in animals.

mulberry anxiety depression

Leaf extracts of mulberry trees have been shown to possess a number of phytochemicals that may explain their anxiolytic effects. The phytochemicals in mulberry leaves include flavonoids, phenolic acids, coumarins and stilbenes, which are all polyphenolic compounds. Polyphenols have been shown to be potent antioxidants, and may be useful in the treatment of mood disorders for this reasons. Other phytochemicals in mulberry extracts may include tannins, steroids, alkaloids, triterpenes, saponins and phytosterols. However, the phytochemistry of mulberry trees is not widely reported and so the phytochemical profile is not fully understood. Image if of mulberry tree berries. Image from: By Khalid Mahmood – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6549520


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Yadav, A. V., Kawale, L. A. and Nade, V. S. 2008. Effect of Morus alba L.(mulberry) leaves on anxiety in mice. Indian Journal of Pharmacology. 40(1): 32-36
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Hawthorn (Crataegus nigra) Berries for Anxiety?

weight lossHungarian Hawthorn (Crataegus nigra) is a species of hawthorn that grows to about 6 meters. It is very much like other hawthorn species, and produces a round berry that can be up to 10 mm in diameter. The berry can be consumed fresh or cooked. In traditional medicine the leaves, flowers and berries of hawthorn are used to treat cardiovascular disease, and in this regard have anti-hypertensive, anti-angina, anti-arrhythmic effects. However, hawthorn is also useful in the treatment of stress, nervousness and sleep disorders, suggesting that it may be useful as a treatment for anxiety. The beneficial effects of hawthorn plants in treating diseases including mood disorders are through to come from the high amounts of antioxidants they contain. Researchers have measured these antioxidants and shown that hawthorn contains high amounts of phenolic acids and flavonoids including anthocyanidins. In animals tissues these phytochemicals may have antioxidant effects.

hawthorne anxiety depression

Hawthorn leaves, fruits and flower contain a number of phytochemicals that may explain their therapeutic action. Like all berries, hawthorn berries contain flavonoids of the anthocyanidin subgroup. Other phytochemicals in hawthorn berries include a range of polyphenolic compounds including vitexin, vitexin-2”-O-rhamnoside, chlorogenic acid, hyperoside, quercetin, isoquercitrin and rutin. Other phytochemicals include organic acids, tannins, and triterpene derivatives. These constituents may have anxiolytic and sedative activities.

Researchers have assessed the anxiolytic effects of hawthorn berry fruits. In this regard one study investigated the effects of extracts of hungarian hawthorn berries on the anxious behaviour of rats. Administration of the berries to the rats caused their behaviour to become less anxious when they were exposed to stress indicating that the berries had a significant anxiolytic effect. In this regard the hawthorn berry extract had effects that were similar to the benzodiazepine pharmaceutical diazepam. In addition, administration of the berry extracts also increased the sleeping time of the rat, suggesting it had sedative effects. These results therefore support other data to show that hawthorn extract of various kinds including leaves, flower and berries may have therapeutic value as treatments for mood disorders such as anxiety. Berries of most plants are high in antioxidants, and it is likely that if this is the reason for their therapeutic effects, then berries of other plants may also have similar effects on mood.

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Popovic-Milenkovic, M. T., Tomovic, M. T., Brankovic, S. R., Ljujic, B. T. and Jankovic, S. M. 2014. Antioxidant and anxiolytic activities of Crataegus nigra Wald. et Kit. berries. Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica.  71(2): 279-285
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