Everybody knows that chamomile tea is calming, or at least is supposed to be. But it had never been tested in a placebo controlled study, until now. A recent trial compared chamomile capsules to place- bo in the treatment of 57 patients with mild to moderate generalized anxiety dis- order. Active capsules each contained 220 mg of chamomile herb. Placebo cap- sules included inactive material and a drop of chamomile oil to provide the dis- tinctive smell of chamomile and maintain the double-blind. Participants took one capsule daily during the first week, increased to two capsules during the sec- ond week, and could go up to five per day if they did not respond. At the end of the eight-week study, chamomile signifi- cantly outperformed placebo on the pri- mary outcome measure (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale). There were no statistically significant differences on several secondary measures, though the meas- ures numerically favored patients receiving chamomile; for instance, 57% of
patients achieved a response to chamomile compared to 38% on place- bo. There was no significant difference between chamomile and placebo in num- ber of adverse events reported. There was a nonsignificant trend for resting pulse rate to decrease more in the chamomile group (5.2 bpm more) than in the placebo group (Amsterdam J et al., J Clin Psychopharmacol 2009; 29:378-382).
TCPR's Take: Given the sample size of 57 patients, it’s possible that chamomile’s good performance was a statistical artifact, and replication will be needed before we can confidently con- clude that the herb is an effective GAD treatment. Nonetheless, it is harmless, and might well be helpful, so it is certain- ly worth recommending to your anxious patients who are not responding to usual treatment. Spectrum Pharmacy Products manufactured the chamomile capsules used in this study; it is not clear if other chamomile capsules or various forms of the herb (tea, oil, etc.) would workas well
PO Box 626, Newburyport MA 01950