Herbal remedies and the self-treatment of stress: An Italian survey

Marina Gasparini, Cinzia Aurilia, Davide Lubian, Marco Testa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Increasingly, people with stress-related disorders seek alternative self-treatment remedies from pharmacies. The aim of the study was to survey the habits of Italians visiting pharmacies to obtain natural cures for stress, and investigate their short-term benefits in reducing perceived stress. Methods The study was conducted in 54 Italian pharmacies in 3 major cities. Participants older than 18 years, seeking remedies for stress manifestations were recruited and pharmacists recorded the herbal remedies participants chose. To assess whether the remedies effectively reduced perceived stress participants completed the Perceived Stress Scale-10 (PSS-10) at baseline and 15 days later (T1). A 10-point Likert self-assessment scale was used to measure the benefit experienced after treatment for 15 days. Results Of the 374 subjects who completed the study, 235 chose two herbal remedies: valeriana and hops and passiflora or melissa. Another group heterogeneously used other remedies. At T1, t-test for paired samples showed a significant reduction in PSS scores, and one-way ANOVA confirmed the reduction between all groups (p = 0.001). Self-reported benefits differed significantly between the three groups (p < 0.0001). A greater reduction in PSS scores and a significantly higher self-experienced benefit in participants who used valerian + hops was identified compared to the other groups (p = 0.002). The chosen herbal remedies appeared to reduce perceived stress to a greater extent in women than in men. Conclusions The short-term use of herbal remedies seems effective in reducing perceived stress. Valeriana and hops combined seem more helpful than other herbal remedies. These findings obtained in Italian city pharmacies merit confirmation in population studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-470
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Integrative Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Herbal remedies
  • Over the counter
  • Pharmacy
  • Stress remedies
  • Valerian and hops

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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