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Background

Echinacea contains chemicals that influence the endocannabinoid system. Previous studies have largely suggested that echinacea can alleviate anxiety, but they weren’t of high quality, so a new study was conducted.

The study

In this 7-day randomized controlled trial, 64 participants with elevated anxiety took 80 mg of echinacea or a placebo. They were followed for weeks after ceasing supplementation.

The results

There was a notable reduction in state anxiety in the echinacea group, which persisted for weeks after the end of the brief treatment. For trait anxiety, perceived stress, and depression, echinacea had only a small, nonsignificant advantage over placebo (but depression wasn’t particularly high in the first place).

Note

The authors admit the trial was very short: “The duration of the treatment was considerably shorter than that usually employed in anxiolytic studies. The choice of the length of the treatment period was motivated by the rapidity of the anxiolytic effect observed in our previous trial, which raised the possibility that subjects having anxiety problems may benefit from the Echinacea preparation studied here in an intermittent, ‘as required’ basis, especially so as it occurs that the short-term treatment had long-term benefits. Yet, the effects of longer treatment regimens still need to be established.”

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This Study Summary was published on October 6, 2020.