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18.06.2016


Melissa officinalis, a supplement for worriers

Worriers will sleep better and feel better about themselves if they take an extract of Melissa officinalis, according to a small human study, performed by a manufacturer of plant extracts for the supplements industry. We have plenty of comments on the way the study, which was published in the Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, was carried out. But even so...

Study
The researchers gave twenty subjects a tablet containing 300 mg Melissa officinalis extract every day for 15 days. The researchers used an alcohol-based extract, which is available on the market as Cyracos. [cyracos.com] The composition of the extract is shown below. The researchers are on the payroll of the French company Naturex [naturex.com], the manufacturer of Cyracos.


Melissa officinalis, a supplement for worriers



All subjects suffered from insomnia and mild anxiety disorder. They were compulsive worriers and brooders.

The researchers got the subjects to fill in questionnaires before and after the supplementation period.

Results
The Melissa officinalis extract reduced all 20 subjects' insomnia, according to the table below. Seventeen subjects reported 'very much improvement'; the other three reported 'much improvement'.


Melissa officinalis, a supplement for worriers



As a result of taking the extract the subjects started to feel better: they became less agitated, experienced fewer feelings of tension and were less hyperactive, as is shown in the figure below.


Melissa officinalis, a supplement for worriers



The Melissa officinalis also helped the subjects to function better in other ways too. For example, they were able to better control their eating habits and started to think more clearly. The extract also reduced psychosomatic symptoms.


Melissa officinalis, a supplement for worriers



Mechanism
Melissa officinalis contains pentacyclic triterpenoid compounds such as ursolic acid and oleanolic acid, which according to in vitro studies inhibit the breakdown of GABA in the brain. [Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Sep;85(9):933-42.] [Phytother Res. 2009 Aug;23(8):1075-81.]

GABA is a neurotransmitter that primarily inhibits other neurotransmitters, thus calming nervous activity. The researchers suspect that Melissa officinalis interacts with GABA to weaken processes that are associated with psychological stress.

Conclusion
"Based on a psychosocial approach, these results [...] suggest a robust effect of Cyracos on anxiety and insomnia", the researchers wrote. "Moreover, the absence of [...] significant side effects render Cyracos a viable option for mild-to-moderate anxiety disorder subjects. They can avoid drugs, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates and antidepressants, the use of which has been discouraged due to their soporific effects and other serious side effects, including acquired tolerance."

Source:
Med J Nutrition Metab. 2011 Dec;4(3):211-218.

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