Lavender Essential Oils & Anxiety
It is completely normal to feel a little overwhelmed and apprehensive from time to time. We’ve all had stressful times in our lives, whether that be from financial crisis, problems at work, family issues, bad breakups, and etc. However, for some of us, the feeling of anxiety can be so intense, it manifests as physiological symptoms, such as insomnia, headache, brain fog, fatigue, palpitations, trembling or twitching, body aches, etc. It can be very debilitating, and often it leaves us feeling hopeless. It’s a yucky place to be, and it is so easy for us to just resort to medicating ourselves with anti-anxiety or anti-depressive drugs. These drugs, while it does reduce anxiety in some patients, take a long time to work, can cause dependency, have abuse potential, and can cause withdrawal symptoms. So what alternative therapy is out there for anxiety? Lavender Essential Oils!
What is in the Lavender Essential Oil?
Lavender essential oils (LEO) have a long history of being used medicinally for its anxiolytic action. The two terpenoids in the LEO responsible for this action are linalool and linalyl acetate. These two active constituents of LEO can cross cell membranes and act directly on the cells on a nano-molecular level, thus having a very powerful pharmacokinetic action on our body and mind. They act directly on our nervous system, including the balance of serotonin, to really stimulate relaxation, increase parasympathetic tone (rest and digest tone), and enhance mood.
How does the lavender essential oil help with anxiety?
Anxiety affects so many of us – in fact, 10% of the adults in the United States actively have some sort of anxiety disorder. LEOs are one of the rare few molecules that are able to cross the blood brain barrier. This means lavender can go directly to the brain and do its job at the level of the brain. When you inhale LEO through aromatherapy, it hits your olfactory bulb, which has limbic inputs to your brain (amygdala and hippocampus) which are associated with mood and memory. No wonder lavender essential oils are so popular for diffusing! There has been many double blinded- randomized tests conducted to prove the efficacy of LEO in treating anxiety. Patients were scored with Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA), and patients supplemented with LEO showed significant reduction in their HAMA scores! In a study published in the journal Phytomedicine, LEO was shown just as effective as lorazepam (an anti-anxiety drug), but without drug abuse or dependence.
How can I use LEO for my anxiety?
If you have a diffuser at home, the first step would be to get yourself a great quality lavender essential oil. The ones that are authentic should have Nutrition Facts box on the label, and is certified organic. Drop a few of the drops into your diffuser near your bed time. You could also apply body cream or lotion to your wrists then add a drop of the LEO and smudge it into your wrist to have it mix in with the lotion applied. The lotion acts as a carrier oil to make the LEO stay longer on your wrist. My favorite way of really making sure I get enough of the LEO is to ingest the LEO as a gel cap. Although LEO is generally very safe and non-toxic, before you ingest LEO, you should consult with Dr. Alice to make sure you are ingesting pure, safe and best quality LEO.