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.
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
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
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