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Ease Anxiety with Clinically Studied Lavender
By Jeremy Appleton, ND

Lavender, an herb long prized for its pleasing fragrance, is also an effective remedy for anxiety. Taken orally, lavender extract can be as effective as some of the conventionally prescribed alternatives. Lavender has been used, both internally and by aromatherapy, for centuries for anxiety and depression, as well as for insomnia and gastrointestinal distress. Modern analytical methods show more than 160 constituents, many of which interact synergistically to contribute to lavender's healing effect .

Clinical Trials of Oral Lavender
Although much previous research on lavender was on its effects when administered as aromatherapy, two controlled clinical trials have explored the effects of oral, pharmacopoeia-grade lavender oil on anxiety. Kasper and colleagues compared lavender oil (WS® 1265) against placebo for anxiety in 221 adults from 21 primary care or psychiatric practices. (Kasper et al, 2010). Subjects took 80 mg of lavender oil or placebo for 10 weeks. Those taking lavender showed a total reduction in anxiety scores of 16 points versus 9.5 points for those taking the placebo. The lavender was also superior to the placebo in terms of having more people respond and fewer people relapse. In another study, researchers compared lavender oil (WS®1265) to a low-dose, commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drug. (Woelk & Schlafke, 2010) The lavender oil, a steam distillate of Lavandula angustifolia, decreased mean anxiety total scores by 45%, versus 46% in the drug group. At the conclusion of the trial, 40% of the lavender group and 27% of the drug group met criteria for remission; the lavender group had a response rate of 52.5% compared to 40.5% of those on the drug.

Safety Assessment
Lavender oil products for oral use should comply with the most stringent quality standards, such as those set forth in the European Pharmacopoeia. When in compliance with or exceeding these standards, and used at the recommended dose, there is no reason to expect any significant adverse effects. As a precaution, oral lavender oil is not recommended for children only because there are insufficient data available pertaining to this use. Unlike commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drugs, for example, lavender does not cause psychological or chemical dependence.

REFERENCES
Kasper S, et al. Int Clin Psychopharmacol 2010; 25:277–87
Woelk H, Schlafke S. Phytomedicine Int J Phytotherapy Phytopharmacol
2010; 17:2: 94–99.
Blumenthal M, ed. Lavender flower. In: The Complete German
Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council;
1998:159–60.

 



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