Aims: Anxiety and stress disorders are currently among the ten most important public health concerns, and in recent years, have reached epidemic proportions. The current success rate of treatments for anxiety disorders is not high, reaching 50% at most. These treatments are also associated with a wide variety of side effects. The aim of the present study was to investigate the anxiolytic properties of a novel herbal treatment produced in our laboratory compared to a conventional treatment for anxiety disorders, namely SSRIs. Main methods: Anxiety-like behavior was evaluated in adult mice exposed to stress during childhood following 1, 2 and 3 weeks of treatment with the novel herbal treatment or escitalopram, using the novel open field and the elevated plus maze paradigms. The behavioral evaluation in these mice was followed by a biochemical assessment of their brain hippocampal BDNF levels and blood corticosterone levels. Key findings: The study showed that (1) the novel herbal treatment reduced anxiety-like behaviors in both behavioral tests. Interestingly, this reduction was observed only following a 3-week treatment; (2) following the novel treatment, corticosterone levels in the plasma of treated mice were reduced and this reduction was similar to the one observed following escitalopram treatment; and (3) BDNF levels in the hippocampus of mice treated both with the novel herbal treatment and escitalopram were increased. Significance: These behavioral and biological findings indicate that our novel herbal compound has the potential of being highly efficacious in treating anxiety disorders.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by the Israel Science Foundation ( ISF 738/11 ), by the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel ( NIPI-7-2011-12 ), and by the Open University of Israel . We would like to thank Prof. Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu and his laboratory students for their expert technical assistance in the corticosterone plasma level assessment and analyses. We would also like to thank Mr. Nadav Kataeli for preparing the herbal treatment. We are especially grateful to Mrs. Noa Albelda, for her comments on this manuscript.
- Herbal treatment