While the British slogan would probably read, “keep calm and take lavender oil,” research suggests that “take lavender oil and keep calm” might be more accurate. According to a double-blind study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, a patented lavender flower essential oil preparation called Silexan may reduce symptoms of anxiety. The study included 170 people, aged 18 to 65, who were diagnosed with restlessness and had symptoms of anxiety, tension, and insomnia. For ten weeks, the participants were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo every day, or 80 mg of the lavender flower essential oil preparation in a soft gelatin capsule. The placebo contained a miniscule amount of lavender oil to mimic the smell of the other, stronger lavender treatment. Throughout the study, researchers evaluated the participants’ sleep quality and anxiety levels using several well-accepted research surveys, including the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. At the end of the study, they found that:
Anxiety-related symptoms decreased more in the people taking the lavender oil preparation than in the people taking the placebo. In fact, 31.4% of the people taking the lavender oil experienced a remission of their anxiety symptoms, while only 22.6% of people taking the placebo experienced a remission.
This lavender oil preparation was relatively well-tolerated. Unlike medications typically used to treat restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia, the lavender oil used in this study didn't cause sleepiness. However, some participants in both groups reported gastrointestinal side effects (33% and 35%, respectively).
While the goal of this study was to find one possible path toward increased serenity, the findings may instead cause warranted excitement. However, it’s important to note that this research was funded by the manufacturer of the lavender oil capsules used in this study; more research from unaffiliated parties is needed to reproduce the findings. In the meantime, if you’re interested in giving lavender oil a try, talk with your healthcare practitioner first.
Source: European Neuropsychopharmacology