Lavender Oil for Anxiety and Depression
Review of the literature on the safety and efficacy of lavender
By Jeremy Appleton, ND
About the Author
Jeremy Appleton, ND, is a licensed naturopathic physician. He is a graduate of Reed College and the National College of Natural Medicine. He served on faculty at NCNM as the nutrition department chair and has also taught at Bastyr University, where he did his residency. Appleton left his private practice in 1998 to work in the natural products industry. He is the author of several books and hundreds of articles on natural medicine. He currently serves as director of scientific affairs at Integrative Therapeutics.
Mechanisms of action
Lavender oil aromatherapy has been shown to be effective in the management of anxiety and depression and small and medium-sized controlled and uncontrolled clinical trials.
Clinical Efficacy of Lavender
- Dunn and colleagues demonstrated anxiolytic activity of lavender oil aromatherapy in patients in intensive care units. Subjects received at least 1 session of aromatherapy with 1% lavender essential oil. Significant anxiolytic effects were noted in the 1st treatment, though 2nd and 3rd treatments did not appear to be as effective.47
- Alaoui-Ismaili and colleagues found that the aroma of lavender is considered by subjects to be very pleasant and is correlated with changes in the autonomic nervous system.56
- Tysoe and colleagues conducted a study of lavender oil in burner use on staff mood and stress in a hospital setting. A significant number of respondents (85%) believed that lavender aroma improved the work environment following the use of the lavender oil burners.57
- Diego and colleagues demonstrated that people receiving lavender oil (10%) olfaction for 3 minutes felt significantly more relaxed and had decreased anxiety scores, improved mood and increased scores of alpha power on EEG (an indicator of alertness), and increased speed of mathematical calculations.58
- Lewith and colleagues investigated the effects of lavender aromatherapy on depressed mood and anxiety in female patients being treated with chronic hemodialysis.59 The effects of aromatherapy were measured using the Hamilton rating scale for depression (HAMD) and the Hamilton rating scale for anxiety (HAMA). Lavender aroma significantly decreased the mean scores of HAMA, suggesting an effective, noninvasive means for the treatment of anxiety in hemodialysis patients.
- Lavender aromatherapy, with or without massage, may also reduce the perception of pain and the need for conventional analgesics in adults and children, though more rigorously controlled trials are needed.60
Oral Lavender Supplementation: Anxiety
Oral Lavender Supplementation: Depression
Comparison to Kava, Benzodiazepines, and Antidepressants
|80 mg/d||10 weeks||AD NOS||26.8||-16|
|80 mg/d||6 weeks||GAD||25||-11.3|
|Lorazepam63||0.5 mg/d||6 weeks||GAD||25||-11.6|
|Bromazepam71||3 mg TID||6 weeks||GAD||28.07||-13|
|Oxazepam70||5 mg TID||6 weeks||GAD||28.24||-11|
|100 mg (70%
|Escitalopram72||10-20 mg/d||24 weeks||GAD||23.7||-15.3|
|Paroxetine71||20-50 mg/d||24 weeks||GAD||23.4||-13.3|
|Duloxetine68||60-120 mg/d||9-10 weeks||GAD||-11.1|
Adverse Events, Safety and Dosage
Conflict of Interest Statement
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