Ancient Ayurveda Beats Clonazepam in Clinical Trial for Anxiety Disorder

By Case Adams 

Researchers from India have proven in a randomized clinical study using international protocols that an ancient Ayurveda remedy for anxiety outperformed the benzodiazepine drug Clonazepam (Klonopin) in relieving severe anxiety.

The researchers, from India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), tested 72 patients in a hospital setting who were diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety disorder using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS). The test subjects were all adults between 20 and 55 years old of both sexes and most had experienced their anxiety disorder for seven years or more. They were also diagnosed with comorbid generalized social phobia.

The researchers randomly divided the patients into three groups. One group was given the standard anti-anxiety medication Clonazepam (Klonopin) at the standard prescriptive dose of .75 milligrams per day (.25mg morning, .50mg night). Another group received 200 milligrams of an Ayurvedic herbal remedy called Manasamitra Vataka (also Manasamitra Vatakam) – in two doses (100 mg each).

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A third group was given the same dosage of Manasamitra Vataka but this was added to the patients’ receiving an Ayurvedic treatment called Shirodhara therapy – where warmed Brahmi taila oil is poured onto the forehead of the patient.

The patients each continued their treatments for 30 days, and were evaluated at day 15 and day 30. Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) testing was conducted along with Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS) analysis of the patients’ progress.

At the end of thirty days’ treatment, the researchers found that the Manasamitra Vataka group on average had a 73% improved disposition according to the BAI testing, while the Clonazepam group on average improved 67% using the same scale. Using the HARS test scale, those patients receiving the Manasamitra Vataka plus the Shirodhara therapy saw a 91% average improvement in symptoms, while the Clonazepam group experienced a 76% improvement.

The researchers concluded that the Ayurvedic treatment not only exceeded the performance of the benzodiazepine, but came with no side effects. The researchers noted:

Thirty days of treatment with Manasamitra Vataka reduced the anxiety, severity of the disease, increased quality of life and improved clinical profile significantly. Shirodhara as an add-on therapy to Manasamitra Vataka decreased the daytime sleepiness and improved the quality of life in the patients.

Manasamitra Vataka is an ancient and complex Ayurvedic formula

…consisting of 28 herbal extracts. According to leading Ayurvedic remedy producer, Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala (AVS), these include:

•Bala (Sida acuta)
•Bilva (Aegle marmelos)
•Vidruma pisti
•Sankhapuspi (Evolvulus alsinoides)
•Puskara mula
•Mrgasrnga bhasma
•Vaca (Acorus calamus)
•Tapya bhasma
•Sveta chandana
•Rakta chandana
•Kalaloha bhasma
•Madhuka (Honey)
•Tvak (Cinnamomum zeylanicum bark)
•Visala (Cucurbita trigonus)
•Nirgundika mula
•Rasna (Vanda roxburghii)
•Rajata bhasma
•Jivaka (Malaxis acuminata)
•Rsabhaka (Malaxis muscifera)
•Kakoli (Lilium polyphyllum)
•Ksirakakoli (Lilium polyphyllum)
•Brhati (Solanum indicum)
•Krtamala tvak
•Parusaka mula
•Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)
•Bibhitaka (Terminalia belerica)
•Amalaki/Amla (Emblica officinalis)
•Amrita/Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)
•Sweta sariva (Hemidesmus indicus (Anantmool – White)
•Krishna sariva (Anantmool – Black)
•Jivanti (Leptadenia reticulata)
•Usira (Vetiveria zizanioides)
•Draksha (Vitis vinifera)
•Riddhi (Habenaria intermedia)
•Durva (Desmostachya bipinnata)
•Bhadra mula
•Trayanti svarasa
•Shankhapuspi (Evolvulus alsinoides)
•Bilva (Aegle marmelos)
•Blamula Goksira

(note that many of these are Ayurvedic names of herbs and extracts)

Ayurveda is the world’s oldest ongoing medicine, with a 5,000-year plus history of treating patients with various diseases. The first recorded surgery was also done by Ayurvedic physicians.

The complexity of the Manasamitra Vataka formula is an indication of the intellectual and scientific depth of Ayurveda. Many of the herbs listed above, such as Tulasi (Tulasidala above) – also called Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum) – have been shown in independent studies to calm and soothe the nerves.

For example, in 2008, a clinical trial of 35 subjects diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder found that Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) significantly reduced anxiety at day 30 and day 60 of treatment with 500 milligrams, twice per day. The researchers stated:

Therefore, it may be concluded that O. sanctum may be useful in the treatment of General Anxiety Disorder in humans and may be a promising anxiolytic agent in near future.

Tubaki BR, Chandrashekar CR, Sudhakar D, Prabha TN, Lavekar GS, Kutty BM. Clinical efficacy of Manasamitra Vataka (an Ayurveda medication) on generalized anxiety disorder with comorbid generalized social phobia: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):612-21. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0778.

Bhattacharyya D, Sur TK, Jana U, Debnath PK. Controlled programmed trial of Ocimum sanctum leaf on generalized anxiety disorders. Nepal Med Coll J. 2008 Sep;10(3):176-9.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath and holds a Ph.D. in Natural Health Sciences. His focus is upon science-based natural health solutions. He is the author of 25 books on natural health and numerous print and internet articles. A listing and description of many of his books can be found on His new video series on low back pain can be found at Case appreciates feedback and questions at [email protected].

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