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Anxiety is a common complaint and may range from everyday stress to clinically relevant symptoms requiring medical intervention. Patients with generalized anxiety disorder can experience excessive anxiety and worry associated with the stresses of everyday life. These feelings can have a negative impact on one’s life. Fortunately, there are natural remedies out there to help with the treatment of anxiety including lavender oil.
Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular and versatile essential oils used in aromatherapy.
Distilled from the plant Lavandula angustifolia, the oil promotes feelings of relaxation and believed to treat anxiety, fungal infections, allergies, depression, insomnia, eczema, nausea, and menstrual cramps.
In essential oil practices, lavender is a multipurpose oil with powerful properties including an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial ability, as well as antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, hypotensive, with a mild sedative effect.
In a study published in the Natural Medicine Journal, lavender oil for anxiety and depression was analysed.
The study noted: “Lavender flower and its extracts have been used, both internally and by olfaction, for centuries as a treatment for anxiety and depression.
“Modern analytical research has identified the main active constituents of the oil; in vitro and animal studies have begun to elucidate mechanisms of action; and controlled clinical trials in humans now document lavender’s efficacy, safety, and dose.
“The most commonly prescribed agents in the medical treatment of anxiety are benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
“Herbal preparations have long been a mainstay for treating anxiety and depression. Some botanical agents, most notably kava, have demonstrated efficacy for clinically diagnosed anxiety disorders.
“Lavender has a high concentration of volatile oils, which impart its distinctive and pleasing fragrance.
“The relaxing experience of lavender fragrance led to its deliberate, therapeutic use in aromatherapy to relieve mild anxiety.
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“Lavender has been also used internally for mood imbalances such as anxiety, insomnia, and gastrointestinal distress, including nervous stomach.
“In vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated multiple possible mechanisms of action of lavender oil, as well as its individual constituents, which may partly account for its relaxing effects when taken orally.
“Lavender oil has potentiated expression of GABA-A receptors in cell culture; it has shown spasmolytic activity on guinea pig ileum; linalool, a main active ingredient of lavender oil, has been shown in animals to inhibit glutamate binding in the brain; linalool has also inhibited acetylcholine release and influenced ionic conductance in neurons; linalyl acetate is described to exert a relaxing effect.
“Lavender oil has reduced dose-dependently spontaneous motility and caffeine-induced hyperactivity of mice.”
The study concluded that lavender oil has been shown to be effective via the oral route with several clinical studies demonstrating the benefit of lavender extracts in comparison to reference or placebo in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Symptoms of anxiety
Feeling nervous, restless or tense
Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
Having an increased heart rate
Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
Feeling weak or tired
Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
Having trouble sleeping
Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
Having difficulty controlling worry
Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
How to help
There are various evidence-based treatments that have been found to help with anxiety problems.
One Mind recommends taking treatments. The charity explains: “There are two types of talking treatment recommended for anxiety and panic.
“Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.
“Applied relaxation therapy – this involves learning how to relax your muscles in situations where you normally experience anxiety.”
If anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress, speak to your GP.
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