Lavender for Anxiety: Why & How to Use

Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions - just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States. National prevalence data indicate that nearly 40 million people in the United States (18%) experience an anxiety disorder in any given year. [1]

Chances are, you are a person who has suffered from anxiety in your life, the qualifications for a medical diagnoses worthy of receiving medication include:

  • Feeling nervous, irritable or on edge
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation), sweating, and/or trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems

Existing medications for anxiety disorders are limited by delay to therapeutic effect, dependence, tolerance, withdrawal, and abuse potential. [2] Therefore, safe and evidence-based complementary or alternative therapies may be important allies in the care of patients with anxiety disorders.

Science supports lavender for anxiety

Essential oils delivered via inhalation route may exert psychologic effects, because the olfactory bulb has limbic inputs in the amygdala and hippocampus that are associated with emotion and memory. [3]

Lavender essential oil has an extensive anecdotal history of relieving anxiety that has recently been supported by clinical efficacy studies. A 2010 study showed that lavender scent reduces state anxiety in dental patients.[4] A 2009 study showed that lavender "is a simple, low-risk, cost-effective intervention with the potential to improve preoperative outcomes and increase patient satisfaction." [5]

A 2013 study investigated the effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, sleep, and blood pressure (BP) of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) patients in an intensive care unit (ICU).

"In conclusion, the aromatherapy effectively reduced the anxiety levels and increased the sleep quality of PCI patients admitted to the ICU. Aromatherapy may be used as an independent nursing intervention for reducing the anxiety levels and improving the sleep quality of PCI patients.[6]"

This article sources dozens of similar studies supporting the anxiety reducing effects of lavender essential oil. There is no doubt that it can be used as an additional therapy where others are not working. 

How to use lavender for anxiety

The following methods can be done at any time, allowing a half hour for the effect to take.

  • Diffuse lavender essential oil with water allowing the vapor to fill the room
  • Drink a glass of lavender tea or lavender infused lemonade
  • Add dried lavender petals to the foods you already love, such as scrambled eggs, meat marinade, soups & stews, fruit jams, etc.
  • Apply an essential oil blend of lavender with carrier oil to the body from the feet to the neck.
  • Take a bath adding a few drops of pure lavender essential oil to the water
  • Use bath and body products made from lavender essential oil such as soap, sprays, butters, lotions, scrubs, and more to get the oil into your bloodstream via topical application.

However severe your anxiety is, adding lavender products to your routine is sure to benefit your well being.

Disclaimer: This is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please contact your doctor in the event of a mental health crisis or struggle.

 

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