The aim of the present study was to carry out a controlled pilot study on the putative anxiolytic effect of valepotriates. Thirty-six outpatients with generalized anxiety disorder (DSM III-R), after a 2-week wash-out, were randomized to one of the following three treatments for 4 weeks (n = 12 per group): valepotriates (mean daily dose: 81.3 mg), diazepam (mean daily dose: 6.5 mg), or placebo. A parallel, double-blind, flexible-dose, placebo-controlled design was employed. No significant difference was observed among the three groups at baseline or in the change from baseline on the Hamilton anxiety scale (HAM-A) or in the trait part of the state-trait anxiety inventory (STAI-trait). Moreover, the three groups presented a significant reduction in the total HAM-A scores. On the other hand, only the diazepam and valepotriates groups showed a significant reduction in the psychic factor of HAM-A. The diazepam group also presented a significant reduction of the STAI-trait. Although the principal analysis (HAM-A between group comparison) found negative results (probably due to the small sample size in each group), the preliminary data obtained in the present study suggest that the valepotriates may have a potential anxiolytic effect on the psychic symptoms of anxiety. However, since the number of subjects per group was very small, the present results must be viewed as preliminary. Thus, further studies addressing this issue are warranted.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.