Lavender, the much-loved “granny” herb, often seen in gardens in your neighbourhood, has long been known for its calming influence. But research has delved deeper and there is evidence endorsing lavender essential oil’s positive effect on the symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety is fear. It’s a survival mechanism, designed to kick in when there is a threat. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most common and widespread mental health issues today. Anxiety disorders are thought to affect up to 15% in the general population – affecting women twice as often as men. These disorders, included generalised anxiety, phobias (such as social phobia), panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder leave many searching for ways to help alleviate stress and promote relaxation to be able to function effectively while living a busy lifestyle. Can lavender essential oil help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety? And are all lavender essential oils created equal?

A study on mice looked into the biological mechanism behind the calming effects of lavender. Researchers found that the vapourised lavender compound, linalool, triggers a relaxing effect by directly stimulating olfactory neurons (smell sensors). This study also included mice without any sense of smell and the researchers observed that the anti-anxiety effect was not seen in those mice The researchers believed that linalool may have effects in humans that are similar to the effects seen in mice because “the olfactory system of humans has basically quite similar structure with that of mice”.
An analysis of a larger number of studies looked at the efficacy of lavender in any form and way of administration on patients with anxiety. The results showed that lavender inhalation can significantly reduce anxiety levels. It found that lavender essential oil inhalation could be useful for chronic care of anxiety, or even as an acute treatment for those situations associated with mild levels of anxiety.
 
A massage with lavender oil (always diluted – e.g. 4-6 drops in 30mL sweet almond oil) also appeared helpful for reducing anxiety, and even though the study couldn’t determine if this effect was due to the lavender or the massage, or both, it was still a good outcome! And if the mouse study above is anything to go on, it’s quite likely to be at least a combined effect.

In summary,  lavender essential oil administered through massage appears effective as a treatment for anxiety. And inhaled is likely helpful as well.

 
These studies also suggest that since treatments with lavender essential oil are generally safe, and also simple and inexpensive, they are a good therapeutic option.
 
It is important to note that not all types of lavender have the chemical profile that is associated with usefulness in anxiety.
 
Our Rich Earth Lavender oil is a high-therapeutic grade, certified organic essential oil, grown at altitude in France, containing the naturally occurring chemicals associated with anxiety-relieve effects.

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