Lavender Oil Uses For Anxiety
Written By Kobi Nathan, Pharm.D., M.Ed., CDP, BCGP, AGSF
Sleep Disorders
March 8, 2023

Anxiety disorders affect millions of people globally, and while medication and talk therapy are effective treatments, many individuals seek natural remedies to supplement their self-care.

Lavender oil for anxiety

Many people use lavender essential oil for anxiety because it has non-sedating, but calming and relaxing properties.

Lavender can be inhaled, topically applied, or ingested, making it a versatile option for anxiety management. I will discuss these methods in detail later in this article.

Lavender also improves sleep quality, making it a potential option for those with anxiety-related sleep disturbances.

Furthermore, lavender can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, making it a versatile option for those with accompanying mental health conditions.

So, let’s dive right into the amazing benefits of lavender oil preparation and how it can treat anxiety.

How is lavender oil extracted?

Lavender oil is a well-known essential oil that has been used for centuries for its soothing and relaxing properties. Its production involves a fascinating method called steam distillation, which requires careful attention to detail.

To create lavender oil through steam distillation, the first step is gathering the flowers and stems. These are then placed into a distillation tank that contains water.

Once the lavender flower material is in the tank, the water is heated, and steam is produced. This steam passes through the lavender plant material, picking up the essential oil molecules along the way.

After the steam and essential oil mixture has passed through the plant material, it is cooled and condensed.

This process results in a liquid that contains both water and essential oil. The oil and water are then separated, and the resulting lavender essential oil is ready for use.

While lavender oil can be produced using other methods, such as solvent or cold-pressed extraction, steam distillation is the most common method for producing high-quality lavender essential oil.

It is a delicate process that requires attention to detail and care, but it is ultimately worth it to produce a top-quality product.

How is lavender used?

Lavender oil inhalation

Lavender aromatherapy is one of the most popular ways to use lavender for anxiety relief.

The aroma of Lavender is also associated with anti-anxiety properties but the evidence for its use is not as strong as oral supplementation.

Additionally, the scent of lavender directly impacts the brain, influencing the activity of neurotransmitters that regulate mood and emotion.

Most studies show that inhaling lavender essential oil for at least three minutes, but ten to thirty minutes is better.

As it is quickly absorbed, you can feel the effects as soon as you breathe it in.

Essential oils are strong and very concentrated, and you only need two to five drops for them to work.

Place a few drops of lavender oil on a cotton bud, bring it close to your nose, and take slow, deep breaths.

You could also put a few drops in an oil diffuser. This makes the oil particles in the room move around so you can breathe them in.

Studies suggest that there is no build-up or long-lasting effect, and that the positive effects of the aroma lasts for as long as the aroma is present.

Adding the oil to a diffuser or spray creates a calming atmosphere, while topical application through massage or bath soak can also be effective.

Orally administered lavender oil

The strongest evidence of lavender’s anti-anxiety properties is its oral form. It can be consumed as a tea or oral supplement.

The benefits of oral lavender for anxiety management include reducing anxiety levels and promoting relaxation, making it useful for those with generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder.

Lavender oil oral dosage

Based on the results of studies with people, the best dose of lavender oil capsules is between 80 and 160 mg per day.

Most of the time, you can feel the benefits of taking lavender oil capsules within two weeks.

This means that you can’t expect it to work immediately, but you might feel a lot better in a reasonable amount of time.

You should keep taking the lavender oil capsules for at least six weeks for the best results.

Studies have shown that the best way to reduce anxiety is to keep doing it for at least two months.

Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular forms of lavender used for anxiety relief.

As I mentioned, the strongest evidence of lavender’s anti-anxiety properties is its oral form.

Let’s discuss this further and the supporting evidence below.

How does lavender reduce anxiety?

Lavender vs benzodiazepine

The mechanisms of action of lavender in anxiety management are still being explored, but research has identified several potential pathways.

Lavender may reduce anxiety levels by interacting with the nervous system, reducing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system responsible for the fight or flight response.

Lavender may also increase the activity of neurotransmitters such as GABA, which promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety levels.

To test this idea, investigators conducted a study to see if lavender oil capsules were just as effective as a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, lorazepam.

Over the course of six weeks, the study investigators were able to prove this question.

The best part about this study was that the study participants were able to enjoy the anti-anxiety effect of lavender oil without the sedation that always accompanies benzodiazepine use!

Lavender for managing subsyndromal anxiety

Essential oil of lavender has also been found to be effective in the treatment of subsyndromal anxiety.

A quick side here to define the term, “subsyndromal.” In the context of anxiety, it is a situation in which a person exhibits symptoms similar to but not severe enough for a diagnosis of a clinically recognized anxiety disorder.

The important point here is that the person experiences real-world symptoms that negatively impact their quality of life.

So, it is very important that the individual living with subsyndromal anxiety seek help from their healthcare provider.

Let’s look at a study that investigated this very issue – Kasper and colleagues compared the effectiveness of orally administered lorazepam against a placebo for reducing subsyndromal anxiety and anxiety-related insomnia.

In this 10-week trial, the investigators randomly assigned 221 study participants suffering from anxiety disorder to take either 80 mg per day of a new oral lavender oil preparation, Silexan, or a placebo.

Based on the results of several scales that measured anxiety (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale) and the quality of sleep, the researchers came to the conclusion that a Lavender oil preparation had a significant positive effect on the quality and length of sleep.

In addition, they found that general mental and physical health was improved without causing any unwanted sedative or other drug-specific effects.

Side effects of lavender

The safety and tolerability of lavender oil capsules is good.

Lavender in food amounts is LIKELY SAFE for most adults. It’s POSSIBLY SAFE when used as medicine and eaten, put on the skin, or breathed in.

When taken orally, lavender can make you have constipation, diarrhea, a headache, and a bigger appetite.

When lavender is applied to the skin, it can sometimes be irritating. To reduce the risk of irritation, it’s crucial to dilute it with a carrier oil.

In rare instances, it can cause an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis.

When inhaled, lavender essential oil is possibly safe. It’s been used safely as aromatherapy for up to 12 weeks.

What medications does lavender interfere with?

High blood pressure medications – Interaction Rating: Moderate

Be careful with this pairing. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Some people may be able to lower their blood pressure with lavender.
If you take lavender with medicines that lower high blood pressure, your blood pressure might drop too much.
If you are taking medicine for high blood pressure, do not take too much lavender.
Some of the high blood pressure medications lavender interacts with are:
  • Captopril (Capoten)
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Losartan (Cozaar)
  • Valsartan (Diovan)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem)
  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL)
  • Furosemide (Lasix)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem)
  • Valsartan

Sedative medications – Interaction rating: Moderate

Lavender might make you tired and sleepy. Sedatives are medicines that make you feel sleepy.
Taking lavender with medicines that make you sleepy could make you sleep too much.
Some of the sedative medications lavender interacts with are:
  • Amobarbital (Amytal)
  • Butabarbital (Butisol)
  • Mephobarbital (Mebaral)
  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • Secobarbital (Seconal)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Midazolam (Versed)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Zolpidem (Ambien)
This list of drug interactions is incomplete, and many other interactions exist. To ensure your safety, ALWAYS check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying out lavender.


In conclusion, lavender is a natural and effective remedy for the management of anxiety.

It can be used in various ways, making it a versatile option for anxiety management.

Lavender has been shown to have many benefits for the treatment of anxiety, including reducing anxiety levels, promoting a calming effect, and improving sleep quality.

While lavender should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment, it may be helpful as a complementary therapy.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, consider adding lavender to your treatment plan.

Its calming and relaxing properties can help you manage your anxiety symptoms and promote a sense of calmness and well-being.

Always consult a healthcare provider before using lavender, especially if you take other medications or have any underlying medical conditions.

With the right precautions and guidance, lavender can be a safe and effective natural remedy for anxiety.

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