Central Nervous System

  • Volker Schulz
  • Rudolf Hänsel
  • Mark Blumenthal
  • Varro E. Tyler


The plant kingdom is replete with compounds and mixtures of compounds that have a stimulating or calmative effect on the central nervous system (CNS). In cases where this action is due to a single high-potency compound that can be chemically isolated, such as morphine, cocaine, or atropine, the plant and its preparations are usually considered to be outside the realm of phytotherapy (see Sect. 1.2). Herbs that contain caffeine are discussed in Sect. Most other herbs affecting the CNS fall under the broad heading of plant sedatives. However, recent controlled therapeutic studies have identified fairly specific indications for three of the psychotropic medicinal plants and their phytomedicinal preparations. Thus, ginkgo biloba extract is considered a nootropic agent that is effective in the symptomatic treatment of cognitive deficiencies (Hartmann and Schulz, 1991; Schulz et al. 1997; Le Bars et al., 1997; Ernst and Pittler, 1999; ESCOP, 2003). Extracts from St. John’s wort have proven highly effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression and have even shown value in severe depressive disorders (Linde et al.,1996; Wong et al.1998; Kasper, 2001; Schulz, 2002), and extracts from the kava root (Piper methysticum rhizome) have shown efficacy as anxiolytic drugs (Volz and Hansel, 1994; Volz, 1997; Pittler and Ernst, 2000).


Hypericum Perforatum Ginkgo Extract Ginkgo Biloba Extract Clinical Global Impression Lemon Balm 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Volker Schulz
    • 1
  • Rudolf Hänsel
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mark Blumenthal
    • 4
  • Varro E. Tyler
  1. 1.BerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Pharmakognosie und PhytochemieFreien Universität BerlinMünchenGermany
  3. 3.MünchenGermany
  4. 4.American Botanical CouncilAustinUSA

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