Ease Anxiety with Clinically Studied Lavender

September 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment


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 (Greive, 1931). Modern analytical methods show more than 160 constituents, many of which interact synergistically to contribute to lavender’s healing effects (Cavanagh et al, 2002).


Clinical Trials of Oral Lavender

Although much previous research on lavender was on its effects when administered as aromatherapy, two controlled clinical trials of 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 decrease of 16 points versus 9.5 points for those taking placebo. The lavender was also superior to 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.



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.



Bio: Jeremy Appleton, ND is a licensed naturopathic physician with an extensive background in natural medicine and education. He graduated from National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), and did his residency at Bastyr University, where he was also on faculty. He served as chair of the nutrition department chair at NCNM for 5 years. He has lectured extensively around the world on topics in nutrition, botanical medicine and dietary supplement quality issues. He is currently Director of Scientific Affairs at Integrative Therapeutics.





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