This study caught people by surprise. We think of Echinacea as a “one-trick pony” – good for dealing with colds but that’s about it. Thanks to this research, though, things just got a little more interesting for our favorite cold-fighting Coneflower: It seems Echinacea may be able to help people suffering with anxiety too.
In the study, they gave participants 1 or 2 tablets of an Echinacea extract. They found that those who took 2 tablets had a significant improvement in their anxiety symptoms (as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)). The participants took the tablets for 7 days and found the the calming effects started fast, continued throughout the treatment and kept going for 2 weeks after they stopped the tablets. The authors point out that both the speed of the improvement and its magnitude are similar to diazepam (Valium). Here’s what one of the key graphs looked like:
This was a small study and was not placebo-controlled (the authors claim that the low dose effect may have been placebo). With any luck, larger, more rigorous studies will follow. In the meantime, Echinacea is a relatively safe herb, providing you’re not allergic to the Asteraceae family, so it may be worth bringing up with your naturopathic doctor or other medical practitioner.