Phytopharmaceutical treatment of anxiety, depression, and dementia in the elderly: evidence from randomized, controlled clinical trials

Wien Med Wochenschr. 2015 Jun;165(11-12):217-28. doi: 10.1007/s10354-015-0360-y. Epub 2015 Jun 20.


Based on subgroup analyses of randomized, controlled clinical trials, we review the efficacy of three phytopharmaceutical drugs, respectively of the corresponding active substances silexan® (WS® 1265, lavender oil) in anxiety disorders, WS® 5570 (Hypericum extract) in major depression, and EGb 761® (Ginkgo biloba extract) in Alzheimer, vascular, or mixed type dementia, in elderly patients aged ≥ 60 years. Four trials were eligible in each indication. Meta-analyses and analyses based on pooled raw data showed that the three drugs were significantly superior to placebo in the elderly subset, and that their treatment effects reflected in the main outcome measures (Hamilton Anxiety scale, Hamilton Depression scale, Neuropsychiatric Inventory) were comparable with those observed in the original trials without age restrictions. The results confirm the efficacy of the three herbal active substances in elderly patients of ≥ 60 years of age. In anxiety, depression, and dementia, they thus represent efficacious and well-tolerated alternatives to synthetic drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Dementia, Vascular / drug therapy
  • Dementia, Vascular / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Humans
  • Lavandula
  • Oils, Volatile / adverse effects
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils / adverse effects
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • WS 5570
  • Ginkgo biloba extract
  • lavender oil