A substance used to treat high blood pressure can remove anxiety in humans

The beta blocker propranolol used to treat high blood pressure can apparently permanently erase anxiety. These are the so-called fear memory that stores memories of traumatic or frightening experiences, a Dutch study.

Researchers at the University of Amsterdam had generated in volunteers with pictures and deafening noise scared associations. The fear was measured over the twitching of the eyelids. Thereafter, part of the subjects received the substance propranolol, the other part was given a placebo. Result: In the propranolol subjects the anxiety were completely cleared, says study leader Merel Kindt. In the control group, who had only received a placebo, the anxiety were, however, unchanged.

Whether the memory contents are completely deleted by propranolol or only the retrieval of anxiety is disturbed, is still unclear. The researchers hope to develop therapies to treat traumatic stress disorder in the future.

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