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Lavender for Anxiety - How Well Does It Work?

Does it help to use lavender for anxiety disorders?

lavender for anxiety and panic attacksAromatherapy with lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) is traditionally used to help ease stress and to promote calmness.

As well, liquid extracts of dried lavender flower can be taken orally for the same benefits.

Many people have discovered the powerful mood-enhancing effects of using aromatherapy at homes and in their offices.

Let's look at some research studies that would support these claims...

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Research studies on the benefits of using lavender for anxiety

the good news is that there are several studies that reveal the effectiveness of using lavender for anxiety treatment. The first two studies were done in dental offices.

As you can imagine, many people are quite anxious when they visit their dentist. Dentists may prescribe drugs like Ativan (lorazepam) for some people to help ease anxiety prior to dental procedures.


Study #1

Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office.
Lehrner J, Marwinski G, Lehr S, Johren P, Deecke L.
Physiol Behav. 2005 Sep 15;86(1-2):92-5.

Two hundred patients visiting a dental office were assigned to one of the four treatment settings. The four groups used were the aroma of oil of lavender, aroma of oil of orange, background music or no music or essential oil aroma.

These volunteers were exposed to one of the four settings while waiting for dental procedures.

Then, the researchers evaluated all the volunteers for anxiety levels, mood, alertness and calmness. They found that lavender oil and orange oil aroma was effective in reducing anxiety.


Study #2

The effects of lavender scent on dental patient anxiety levels: a cluster randomised-controlled trial.
Kritsidima M, Newton T, Asimakopoulou K.
Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2010 Feb;38(1):83-7.

Another well-designed study involving 340 patients in several dental offices showed that exposure to the aroma of lavender oil significantly reduced anxiety levels.


Study #3

A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder.
Woelk H, Schlafke S.
Phytomedicine. 2010 Feb;17(2):94-9.

This well-designed study lasted 6 weeks. It was able to show that lavender oil capsules were able to reduce anxiety level as well as Ativan (lorazepam). Ativan is a commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication.

It is not usual for herbal remedies to be as effective as prescription anxiety medications but this study shows this to be the case.

Moreover, the researchers also noted that the lavender oil capsule did not cause drowsiness and it did not have any risk for abuse (addiction).


What about using lavender for panic attacks?

We did not find any published research studies on the effectiveness of lavender for treating panic disorders.

Some people suspect that since lavender is able to calm the body down and cut down on anxiety levels, it may help to lessen the frequency and severity of panic attacks.


Dose to use

As an aromatherapy, place several drops of lavender oil in a dish of water and allow the aroma to fill the room.

As a tea formulation, use 5 to 10 grams (1 to 2 teaspoon) of lavender leaves steeped in 250 mL (1 cup) of boiling water for 15 minutes.

As a tincture (1:5) - Use 60 drops daily or follow the manufacturers' directions.

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Created: March 7, 2011

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