Effects of Acute Bach Flower Administration on Anxiety-like Behaviors in Long-Evans Rats

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Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown

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Herbal remedies are becoming increasingly popular with the general public but are not often subjected to rigorous experimental trials; therefore, determining their effectiveness as a treatment option poses a challenge. To test the claim that Bach Flower Remedies have anxiolytic properties, we designed an experiment to study the effects of acute Bach Flower Solution administration on anxiety-like behaviors in 20 male Long-Evans rats. Bach Flower Solution is a mixture of 40 drops (~2ml) of herbal extracts such as Aspen, Mimulus, Rock Rose, and 80 drops (~40ml) of a proprietary mix called Rescue Remedy that were dissolved in a 27% ethanol solution. The rats were orally dosed with Bach Flower Solution or a control solution for two days weekly and underwent behavioral testing on the second day of each week. Dosage concentrations were increased ten-fold for the third and fourth weeks of testing. Two well-known methods of behavioral testing in rats were used: the Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) for anxiety-like behaviors and the Forced Swim Test (FST) for depression-like behaviors. The EPM consisted of 5 minute trials per subject and the FST consisted of 10 minute trials per subject. Previous testing conducted on the effects of chronic treatment using the same Bach Flower Solution elicited significant results during the EPM. Thus, it was hypothesized that acute dosage of Bach Flower Solution would significantly reduce anxiety-like behaviors in rat models, defined by increased time spent in the open arms of the EPM, as well as decreased total float time and longer latency to float in the FST. Results from the EPM and FST were not significant for the lower or higher concentration dosages. Expanding the quantity and quality of research in this field may open up new possibilities for clinical treatment of anxiety disorders that could greatly benefit society.

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