A product by PASCOE known as PASCOFLAIR has been shown to decrease anxiety with an effectiveness similar to pharmaceutical medications, like Diazepam, through its action on GABA1,2. GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, playing a role in neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. The longer GABA suppresses these nerve impulses, the more it can control mild to moderate anxiety.
Each tablet of PASCOFLAIR contains 425mg dry extract of Passiflora incarnata L. (aerial parts) equivalent to nearly 3g of passionflower. Passiflora incarnata has been traditionally used in herbal medicine as a sleep aid, particularly due to mental stress, and for treating anxiety. There have been several studies on its anxiolytic effect. In a double-blind, randomized controlled study, although the patient size was only 32, an anxiolytic effect was found with the use of passionflower extract which was not significantly different from the anxiolytic effect of Oxazepam, a metabolite of Diazepam. Anxiety was measured using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A)3. Not only did the group that was treated with passionflower see a quicker reduction in their symptoms of anxiety (a significant decrease was seen after only 4 days), but they also experienced fewer and milder adverse effects. There was also a significant impairment in job performance seen in the group treated with Oxazepam.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 60 patients about to undergo surgery, patients were either given placebo or one dose of 500mg passionflower ~90 minutes before surgery. Without a significant difference in psychomotor function, sedation, or time until discharge from the hospital, a significant decrease in anxiety was seen in the group receiving passionflower4.
PASCOFLAIR works synergistically with other anxiolytic herbs as well as with acupuncture, so book your free 15-minute consult with Dr. Mingay today to find out more and if PASCOFLAIR is right for you!
There are also some simple changes we can make in our daily lives to help control feelings of anxiety.
Reactive Hypoglycemia - essentially, don't let yourself go too long without eating. When we let our blood sugar dip too low, our sympathetic nervous system tries to compensate by releasing epinephrine and norepinephrine. Although this does help restore blood glucose levels back to normal, the release of these hormones induces a "fight or flight" response, putting us at risk for symptoms such as irritability, sweating, palpitations and anxiety. Consistently allowing your body to slip into this state of reactive hypoglycemia can put you at risk for chronic anxiety.
It is common to crave refined sugar and/or caffeine to satisfy these dips in blood sugar; however, it is no surprise that after short-term relief, the anxiety is exacerbated by the stimulating properties of these substances. Caffeine heightens both the biochemical response to hypoglycemia (i.e. higher concentration in the blood of epinephrine and norepinephrine) and some of the clinical symptoms of hypoglycemia (sweating, trembling, and possibly anxiety). So keep some healthy, non-stimulating snacks nearby!
Caffeine - excessive caffeine intake can cause symptoms that are indistinguishable from those of an anxiety disorder, such as nervousness, tremulousness, palpitations, irritability, and insomnia. Patients with a propensity for anxiety tend to be more susceptible to the anxiety-inducing effects of caffeine when compared to those without.
Other stimulants such as cayenne pepper, green tea, and chocolate may heighten anxiety in those that are very sensitive and/or susceptible.
1. Grundmann, O., Wahling, C., Staiger, C., Butterweck, V. (2009) Anxiolytic effects of a passion flower (Passiflora incarnata L.) extract in the elevated plus maze in mice. Pharmazie 64: 63-64.
2. Grundmann, O., Wahling, C., Staiger, C., Butterweck, V. (2008) Anxiolytic activity of a phytochemically characterized Passiflora incarnata extract is mediated via the GABAergic system. Planta Med 74: 1769-1773.
3. Hamilton M.The assessment of anxiety states by rating. Br J Med Psychol 1959; 32:50–55.
4. Dhawan, K., Kumar, S., Sharma, A. (2001) Anti-anxiety studies on extracts of Passiflora incarnata Linnaeus. J Ethnopharmacol 78: 165-170.