Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: 10-year updated review

Phytother Res. 2018 Jul;32(7):1147-1162. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6055. Epub 2018 Mar 25.


This paper provides a 10-year update of the 2007 systematic review of herbal medicines studied in a broad range of psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, seasonal affective, bipolar, psychotic, phobic, somatoform, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders. Ovid Medline, PubMed, and the Cochrane Library were searched for herbal medicines with both pharmacological and clinical evidence of psychotropic activity. This updated review now covers clinical trial evidence for 24 herbal medicines in 11 psychiatric disorders. High-quality evidence was found to exist for the use of Piper methysticum (Kava), Passiflora spp. (passionflower) and Galphimia glauca (galphimia) for anxiety disorders; and Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) and Crocus sativus (saffron) for major depressive disorder. Other encouraging herbal medicines with preliminary evidence include Curcuma longa (turmeric) in depression, Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) in affective disorders, and Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo) as an adjunctive treatment in Schizophrenia. Although depression and anxiety are commonly researched, many other mental disorders still require further prospective investigation. Although the previous review suggested increasing the adjunctive study of select herbal medicines with pharmaceuticals, this was still only found to sparingly occur in research designs. Aside from this, future focus should involve the incorporation of more biomarker analysis, in particular pharmacogenomics, to determine genetic factors moderating response to herbal medicines.

Keywords: anxiety; clinical trials; depression; herbal medicine; medicinal plants; mood disorders; psychiatric disorders; psychiatry.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Herbal Medicine / methods
  • Herbal Medicine / trends*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Phytotherapy / trends*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal / physiology


  • Plant Extracts