Naturopathy More Effective Than Psychotherapy in Treating Anxiety – A randomised controlled trial

April 2012

Anxiety is a serious health condition that creates a substantial burden to overall quality of life. Anxiety disorders represent a significant cost to health care system as well as precious human resource due to employees’ absence.

A study and survey in 2006 conducted by the National University of Singapore found that the higher the household income, the lesser the householders enjoy life. A member of parliament commented that many rich Singaporeans are not happy because of the fear of not being able to sustain the high life (The Straits Times, January 10, 2010). In other words, worry. Notice how some of us are busy texting messages while we have dinner. The mind is so worried that we may miss out on something (a business deal or another customer) that we are not having a relaxing dinner with one another.

In my opinion, constant fear often is manifested as a worrisome mind or anxiety. Chronic anxiety may lead one to impatience, adrenal stress, anger, hopelessness and possibly, to related diseases like autoimmune disorders and cancer. The 12th century Abbess and Herbalist St Hildegard of Bingen mentioned that hopelessness is the worst disease of mankind. Scientific studies have shown that cancer tends to thrive when there is a deep sense of hopelessness.  

One spiritual author stated that there are only two things in life – Love and Fear. We either live a life of love or fear. You have a choice.

A randomised controlled trial on the effectiveness of naturopathy care (NC) was performed on 75 participants with moderate to severe anxiety. The treatment was compared with standardised psychotherapy intervention (PT).  

Group comparison demonstrated a significant decrease in anxiety levels in NC group over the PT group. Significant improvements in secondary quality of life measures were also observed in the NC group as compared to PT group.

Participants in this study under NC received dietary counselling, deep breathing exercises, herbs and nutritional medicine while the PT group received psychotherapy, deep breathing exercises and placebo.

Why is naturopathy care more effective than psychotherapy in the treatment of anxiety? I believe it is because naturopathy is a whole body treatment rather than just on the mind. Our body, mind and soul are connected. We cannot be healed completely unless we address all levels of our being.

At our next Leaf to Life Retreat (December 7-11), we will be addressing psychological issues from a naturopathic perspective. Theme of the retreat is, Invitation to Happiness. Join us if you can. Start living a life.


Pax (Peace)
Sebastian Liew, MNHAA (Australia)
Cooley, K., Szczurko, O., Perri, D., Mills, E., Bernhardt, B., Zhou, Q., Seely, D. (2009). Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomised controlled trial ISRCTN78958974.  PloS ONE, 4(8), 1-10, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006628
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The information contained in this diary is for educational purpose only. We encourage our readers to seek out a competent health professional for any treatment required. We do not take responsibility for the use of information contained in any article published in our journal or diary by the reader. We do, however, caution readers of possible unintended consequences of self–medication, and that the consultation of a competent health professional is always advisable.

About Sebastian Liew

Matthew Wood, the renowned American herbalist described Sebastian as ‘one of the most unique and talented practitioners of natural healing and herbalism.’ The New Paper (Singapore) called Sebastian Liew 'The Medicine Man'. Indeed, Sebastian is a qualified and registered Medical Herbalist (accredited by the National Herbalists Association of Australia), with a Master's degree in Herbal Medicine from the University of New England, Australia. He is the first medical herbalist in Singapore and is known to popularize phytotherapy (Western herbal medicine), European traditional medicine, and St Hildegard medicine (Germany) in Singapore and probably in Asia. Sebastian has 20 years clinical work experiences and treated numerous patients with different medical conditions from all age groups in his Singapore clinic. Sebastian authored the book, Leaf to Life: The Natural Approach to Slow Down Aging and Living a Healing Life, which set the fundamentals for healthy aging and the prevention or treatment for almost all diseases. Please visit website
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