Clinical applications of herbal medicines for anxiety and insomnia; Targeting patients with bipolar disorder

  • Baek J
  • Nierenberg A
  • Kinrys G
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OBJECTIVES: Patients with bipolar disorder frequently continue to experience residual anxiety and insomnia between mood episodes. In real-world practice, patients increasingly self-prescribe alternative medicines.

METHODS: We reviewed case reports, open-label, and placebo-controlled trials investigating the use of herbal medicines to treat anxiety and insomnia, and discussed their potential applications for bipolar disorder.

RESULTS: Eleven herbal medicines that have been studied in human subjects are included in this review. Mechanisms of action, efficacy, side effects, and drug-drug interactions are discussed. Based on currently available evidence, valerian seems to be the most promising candidate for insomnia and anxiety in bipolar disorder.

CONCLUSIONS: Adjunctive herbal medicines may have the potential to alleviate these symptoms and improve the outcomes of standard treatment, despite limited evidence. Physicians need to have a more in-depth understanding of the evidence of benefits, risks, and drug interactions of alternative treatments.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Herbal medicine
  • adjunctive treatment
  • anxiety
  • bipolar disorder
  • insomnia

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  • Ji Hyun Baek

  • Andrew A. Nierenberg

  • Gustavo Kinrys

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