The rolling hills of Provence in France, teaming with endless rows of lavender, play host to spas, yoga studios, meditation, and mindfulness retreats, with the serene scent of lavender serving as inspiration. This versatile member of the mint family is employed as an ingredient for the staple of every kitchen in “herbes de Provence” and for many applications including potpourri, soaps , and candles; and for herbal pairings in hops pillows for sleep enhancements. However, the benefits of oral dosage for lavender oil is emerging as a botanical asset for mental health.
Today’s fast-paced modern lifestyle can cause chronic stress that may undermine relationships and day-to-day tasks. A Health Canada study in 2012 found that approximately 2.6% of Canadians aged 15 or older reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Natural solutions should be the first step toward treating this common affliction and lavender oil might be the answer.
Lavender oil is obtained through steam distillation. This process gently extracts the unique mosaic of naturally occurring compounds, including linalool and linalyl acetate, which are considered to be its main therapeutic constituents. This tandem features two key benefits: they relax muscles through inhibition of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and stimulate activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which regulates and relaxes the brain.
Lavender oil, from Lavandula angustifolia is an approved substance in Germany for the treatment of anxiety and restlessness. Human and in vivo studies indicate that lavender may possess anxiety-lowering, mood stabilizing, sedative, analgesic, anticonvulsive, and neuroprotective properties. Lavender has been shown to enhance the effect of serotonin, a mood-regulating chemical, in the brain.
Evidence from clinical trials shows that oral use of 80 mg of encapsulated lavender oil can help reduce symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic fatigue (neurasthenia). Effects were similar to that obtained by anxiolytic medications (SSRI pareoxetine) and lorazepam, with fewer adverse effects.
Lavender is well-known for calming the mind and promoting sleep . Clinical trials with oral use of lavender oil have shown it to reduce morning tiredness, as well as frequency and duration of waking-up, while improving sleep quality and overall mood in participants suffering from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic fatigue.
Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, such as antidepressants, lavender oil promotes relaxation without causing sedation, withdrawal symptoms, or any other unsettling side effects. Lavender oil can be the therapeutic natural solution for coping with stress, anxiety, and insomnia.