The most legendary use for lavender is to help calm the body and mind. Find out how lavender for anxiety may be your next favorite remedy.
Lavender has been used traditionally for many health issues, including infections, pain, improving mood, and digestive relief. Lavender today is approved by the European Medicine Agency for use to relieve stress and anxiety.
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Lavender Reduces Anxiety for People
A review of 7 clinical studies concluded that lavender capsules are effective for reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, and also improved sleep and quality of life in all of the studies.
These studies used a type of standardized lavender of 80 mg in a gelcap called Silexan. Silexan isn’t available in the United States, but you can find comparable products online and gelcaps of lavender called Serenity here.
Lavender oil, taken as a capsule, was as effective as the drug therapy for anxiety (Lorazepam) in a clinical trial as well. Lavender is an appealing alternative to drugs because it doesn’t have the sedating effects or side effects of Lorazepam.
Lavender Reduces Anxiety Due to Procedures
Lavender was able to reduce anxiety symptoms in specific and acute health conditions as well. Lavender reduced anxiety after hospitalization with heart issues. It also reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and mean arterial pressure compared to placebo.
Use of lavender oil also reduced anxiety symptoms during dental exams.
How Does Lavender Reduce Anxiety?
Diverse Effects of Lavender for Anxiety
Lavender oil binds with a very important neuro-receptor called NMDA. Lavender has beneficial effects on NMDA. This receptor is known to be involved in certain neurological and psychiatric disorders including epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease as well.
In a study of 90 patients preparing for heart surgery, inhaling lavender essential oil reduced the stress hormone called cortisol by a striking 70 percent compared to the control group.
Lavender may additionally be calming because it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Reducing inflammation and oxidation helps protect the brain in many ways; in fact, most diseases today benefit from this action.
Does Lavender Have Side Effects?
An important matter to consider when thinking about effectiveness for stress and anxiety is to also consider the potential drawbacks of medications used for treating stress and anxiety.
Benzodiazepines, while useful, have sometimes crippling withdrawal and rebound effects.
Side effects of lavender are very minimal to none.
Lavender also has pain-relieving benefits compared to placebo.
Here is a great lavender case report from my friend and colleague, Calene Van Noy, RD:
Ability to calm:
My 2 yr old son was in the hospital with a sudden, severe case of croup and they wanted to keep him overnight to make sure he was fine. It was 2 am…the nurses had just checked on him – said he was fine and that I should try and get a little sleep. I laid down on that pullout hospital chair with a warm blanket but was unable to sleep as my mind kept spinning -going through everything over and over. My son was sleeping peacefully and breathing just fine, but I simply couldn’t calm my mind down enough to sleep. I remembered my lavender and it’s the ability to calm so I pulled it out, put a couple drops in my hand – rubbed them together and cupped it over my nose, taking deep breaths. I laid back down and quickly fell asleep. I awoke to the nurses checking on my son again and my outlook was so different – I felt hopeful, relieved, and grateful.
Using Lavender in Cooking
An easy way to get more lavender health benefits is to cook with this versatile flower or use its essential oil. Use Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Only (CPTG).
I purposefully do not add exact amounts in many of my recipes. Why? The best chefs taste as they go.
Lavender strength preference is a very personal one. I want the flavor to have a strong impact.
Others may not want it so strong. That’s okay. Everything may feel okay after having some lavender.
Websites caution using lavender in cooking, citing that it can quickly overpower flavors. Not a problem if you ask me. Bring on the potent flavor!
Lavender Chocolates or Chocolate sauce
- Dark chocolate bars
- Lavender oil or dried lavender buds
- Butter, optional
- Coconut milk, optional
Melt chocolate, add lavender to your taste preference. Done. If you use essential oil, go easy. One drop goes a long way.
If you want to make this into a sauce, add the butter and coconut milk to achieve desired consistency.
- Boiling water
- Earl Grey tea leaves
- Lavender buds or essential oil
- Coconut butter
- Coconut milk
Add tea leaves and lavender buds into a tea diffuser. Pour boiling water over and steep for 3-5 minutes. Mix in coconut butter, milk and honey. You can use cream if you prefer over coconut.
You can also just throw the buds or a little drop of essential oil right in.
No need to reinvent the wheel. Check out these links for more recipes:
- Lavender Ice Cubes
- Fresh herb omelet with lavender potatoes
- Slow roasted tomatoes
- Roasted lavender and hazelnut encrusted salmon
- Citrus-lavender vinaigrette
- Lavender and honey roasted chicken
- Herbes de Provence
Add lavender buds or essential oil to just about any type of tea, infused water or beverage.
If you are cooking with or eating lavender oils, make sure you find a high-quality form that is Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade.
Lavender is generally recognized as safe. As with anything, check with your healthcare provider before increasing the amount of supplemental lavender you take.
If you are allergic to lavender (develop rash), please avoid its use.
A word of caution: a few case reports of prepubertal boys using lavender for extended periods of time noted gynecomastia. This is actually a common symptom of puberty as well. No long-term side effects were noted. Use of large amounts of lavender in this age group is cautioned (7).
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.