Background: Anxiety symptoms are among the most common reasons for consumers to use Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapy. Although many botanicals have been proposed as putative remedies for anxiety symptoms, there has been a paucity of controlled trials of these remedies. A preliminary study of the anxiolytic effect of Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) in humans suggests that chamomile may have anxiolytic and antidepressant activity. We now seek to conduct a 5-year randomized, double-blind, placebo-substitution study to examine the short and long-term safety and efficacy of chamomile extract in Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Methods/design: 180 subjects with moderate to severe GAD will receive initial open-label pharmaceutical-grade chamomile extract 500-1,500 mg daily for 8 weeks. Responders to treatment who remain well for an additional 4 weeks of consolidation therapy, will be randomized to double-blind continuation therapy with either chamomile extract 500-1,500 mg daily or placebo for an additional 26 weeks. The primary outcome will be the time to relapse during study continuation therapy in each treatment condition. Secondary outcomes will include the proportion of subjects in each treatment condition who relapse, as well as the proportion of subjects with treatment-emergent adverse events. Quality of life ratings will also be compared between treatment conditions during short and long-term therapy.
Discussion: Many individuals with mental disorders decline conventional therapy and seek CAM therapies for their symptoms. Thus, the identification of effective CAM therapy is of relevance to reducing the burden of mental illness. This study builds upon our prior findings of significant superiority of chamomile versus placebo in reducing GAD symptoms. We now extend these preliminary findings by conducting a randomized long-term safety and efficacy study of chamomile in GAD.
Keywords: Alternative Medicine; Anxiety; Botanical Therapy; Chamomile; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Herbal Therapy; Matricaria recutita.