From the Journals: Herbs and supplements for anxiety: Kava, inositol may help

From the Journals

Herbs and supplements for anxiety: Kava, inositol may help

Anxiety disorders are among the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric illnesses, affecting some 40 million adults each year in the United States, women more often than men. They encompass a wide variety of diagnoses, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and phobias. Anxiety disorders can be treated effectively with psychotherapy and drugs such as benzodiazepine tranquilizers, antidepressants, and beta blockers. But major surveys suggest that many people seek complementary and alternative medicine to relieve their symptoms.

Various studies have found some herbs and dietary supplements helpful for mild to moderate anxiety. But a review of the evidence published in the August 15, 2007, issue of American Family Physician found little or no scientific support for the use of most such treatments. One notable exception was the herbal supplement kava. Here's a rundown on the evidence for and against the top contenders:

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.