(NaturalHealth365) Lavender flowers and its oil are famous for its use in aromatherapy and massage sessions. While there are not many studies on lavender flower or its oil, most studies show a positive correlation between the use of lavender and anxiety relief in patients.
Conventional medicine use benzodiazepine drugs for treating patients with generalized and persistent anxiety that is also accompanied by nervousness. Unfortunately, these drugs cause fatigue and have the potential to be abused – hence the demand for natural and safe alternatives like lavender is on the rise.
A great way to improve your mood with lavender
A 2012 study that investigated the effects of lavender oil on the brain’s activity – including nerve and mood response in humans – revealed the positive effects of lavender. The participants of the study were grouped into two, one group inhaled lavender oil, while the other used a ‘base oil’.
The results of this study are of significance because the researchers measured parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature to arrive at a conclusion. Subjects that inhaled lavender oil showed a marked drop in their blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature indicating a decrease of autonomic arousal.
In terms of mood responses, those who inhaled lavender oil showed increased activity of theta (4-8 Hz) and alpha (8- 13 Hz) of the brain’s electric signals. In addition these subjects reported to be more active, relaxed and fresher than the subjects that inhaled base oil – clearly indicating that lavender not only relaxed the subjects but also improved their mental alertness.
How does lavender aromatherapy lower anxiety?
Both in vitro and in vivo studies indicate many possible mechanisms by which lavender decreases anxiety. Lavender oil improves the expression of GABA – A receptors in cells in test tube studies and also shown to inhibit glutamate binding in the brain.
Glutamate is a powerful excitatory neurotransmitters, which when present in high levels interferes with sleep patterns and induce anxiety in patients. Furthermore, lavender also contains a high amount of linalyl acetate – which exerts a relaxing effect, key to decreasing anxiety.
A study was done to assess the mood, alertness and brain response of 40 adults receiving three minutes of aromatherapy using a relaxing odor (lavender) and stimulating odor (rosemary). The group that got lavender therapy were less depressed, more relaxed and performed better in math computations with more accuracy after therapy.
The rosemary group showed increased alertness while the accuracy of math was not the same. The researchers of the study concluded that lavender does play a significant role in anxiety treatment – especially via relaxation and inhibiting symptoms of depression in patients.
How should I choose lavender oil?
The bioactive constituents of lavender are linalool, linalyl acetate, 1,8-cineole B-ocimene, terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. However, the relative level of each of these constituents varies depending on the type of species.
Be sure the lavender oil you choose has linalool at a higher concentration. Ideally, a good quality product is distilled and processed immediately after harvesting. After production, the resultant oil should be stored in a tightly closed, darkened glass container and placed in a cool and dark place to avoid chemical degradation.
Lavender oil has no potential for drug abuse or sedating side effects and appears to be an effective and well-tolerated alternative to benzodiazepine drugs for treating anxiety. However, lavender should be used cautiously or avoided in patients with known allergy to lavender.
Clearly, if you’re experiencing too much mental/emotional stress – lavender may help. Don’t suffer any longer – find a qualified healthcare provider and remove unwanted stress from your life – as soon as possible.
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1. M. A. Diego, N. A. Jones, T. Field, M. Hernandez-Reif, S. Schanberg, C. Kuhn, V. McAdam, R. Galamaga, M. Galamaga. Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. Int. J. Neurosci. 1998 96(3 – 4):217 – 224
2. W. Sayorwan, V. Siripornpanich, T. Piriyapunyaporn, T. Hongratanaworakit, N. Kotchabhakdi, N. Ruangrungsi. The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system and brain electrical activity. J Med Assoc Thai 2012 95(4):598-606.
3. H.Woelk, S. Schläfke. A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine 2010 17(2):94 – 99.
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