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Lavender oil has such a calming smell, in my opinion, as long as it is not overpowering. It is one of the most popular aromatherapy oils.
If you have anxiety and have never tried it, I encourage you to do so. You can use it in a diffuser or spray or just put a drop on a corner of your pillow at night. Buy the pure organic essential oil, not an adulterated form.
The benefits of smelling lavender oil for anxiety are well-documented, but how about taking it internally? Studies now show that it is very useful for generalized anxiety disorder, when taken internally in a food-grade form.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects a substantial part of Western societies. It is usually diagnosed by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria used by psychiatrists and by the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale.
The studied form of food-grade lavender oil is called “Silexan”. Silexan is a defined preparation from Lavandula angustifolia derived from the fresh flowering tops of the plant by steam distillation. The main constituents of the product are linalool and linalyl acetate, which account for about 70% of the ingredients. Batch to batch consistency is assured by well defined, highly standardized processes of cultivation, harvesting, and distillation.
In a 2014 double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial in Germany involving 539 women and men with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), participants received either 80 mg or 160 mg of Lavandula angustifolia in Silexan or 20 mg of paroxetine or placebo for ten weeks. Paroxetine is an SSRI (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor) that is used as an antidepressant to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorders, among others. The brand name is Paxil.
The measured outcomes were results on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A). In the Silexan 160 mg/day group 60.3% of patients showed a HAM-A total score reduction greater than or equal to 50% of the baseline value and 46.3% had a total score <10 points at treatment end. In the Silexan 80 mg/day group, 51.9% of patients showed a HAM-A total score reduction greater than or equal to 50% of the baseline value and 33.3% had a total score <10 points at treatment end.
In the paroxetine group, 43.2% showed a HAM-A total score reduction greater than or equal to 50% and 34.1% had a total score <10 points at treatment end. The placebo group had values of 37.8% and 29.6% for the total score reduction greater than or equal to 50% and for the total score less than 10 points at treatment end, respectively.
Participants started with a HAM-A score of at least 18. Results showed that the HAM-A total score DECREASED by 14.1±9.3 in the 160 mg Silexan group, 12.8±8.6 in the 80 mg Silexan group, 11.3±8.0 for the paroxetine and 9.5±9.0 placebo group respectively.
Summarizing the results:
The researchers stated that It appeared that the lavender oil, like the established anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) pregabalin (in Lyrica), works by decreasing the release of various excitatory neurotransmitters such as glutamate, but in ways different from pregabalin. Because of this, it is possible that this oil can be used in conjunction with other anti-anxiety medications, but please speak with your doctor.
Furthermore, the oil from lavender oil does not work by inhibiting serotonin reuptake, nor did it have clinically relevant inhibitory or inducing effects on several liver enzymes, so it is possible that lavender oil can be used with SSRI or natural serotonin modulating substances without contraindication. Again, speak with your doctor.
One thing to be noted is that although 20 mg of paroxetine is the standard dosage, some people need higher amounts and this study did not compare different dosages of paroxetine to Silexan.
In this study, Silexan also had better effects on depression scores than either paroxetine or placebo, but since depression was not the primary measured outcome, specific results cannot be assumed.
Do not discontinue any medications without consulting your doctor first. Withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications is a real concern. People on Silexan did not appear to have withdrawal problems. Researchers stated that people who do not get benefit from 80 mg per day of lavender may increase to 160 mg per day.
Silexan is in these products that I know of:
Also in Nature's Way Calm Aid, available to the general public:
Nearly worldwide at Vitacost
Silexan may affect your gut microbiota in positive ways, but that is a topic for another page.
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