The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Lavender Oil Ease Your Anxiety and Insomnia?

The scent of lavender oil can help reduce anxiety and overcome sleeplessness in people undergoing surgery. Might it help you too?

Aromatherapy, the use of plant materials with notable fragrance, has long been popular in Europe. It is now becoming more widely adopted in the US as well. In this approach, people utilize the “essential oils” of a plant that carry its “essence” or fragrance. They may inhale, apply or ingest these oils. One of the simplest to use is lavender oil, because it is simply inhaled. One reader reports enjoying its fragrance for years.

Will Lavender Oil Relax You?

Q. I’ve been sprinkling lavender oil on my pillow every night for years; I’ve found it very soothing and relaxing. Zero side effects.

We also used this herbal oil to help calm my late mother’s anxiety after she came home from rehabbing a broken hip. Again, zero side effects.

Fragrance Can Make a Difference:

A. Studies show that aromatherapy, whether with lavender, chamomile or peppermint essential oil, can help hospitalized cancer patients sleep better (Oncology Nursing Forum, July 1, 2017).  Moreover, there is also evidence that lavender oil can help ease anxiety (Mental Health Clinician, March 26, 2018).

In this regard, researchers studying mice have found that the odor of lavender oil and particularly its component linalool is critical to this anti-anxiety action. Here is what we wrote about this study. Furthermore, other scientists have confirmed that linalool and the oil of Lavandula angustifolia can counteract social aversion in mice (Molecules, Oct. 19, 2018).

What about humans? Fortunately, such aromatherapy may also help women face surgery with less anxiety (Journal of Clinical Anesthesia, Sep. 2016). Finally, impartial reviewers found that lavender extract alleviated anxiety better than placebo (Advances in Therapy, March 2018).

Learn More:

You can learn more about aromatherapy and essential oils in our interview with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog and Stacy Brower. It is Show 1101: How You Can Use Essential Oils for Better Health. In summary, you may want to consider sniffing some lavender oil when you are feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Show 1101: How You Can Use Essential Oils for Better Health (Archive)
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Essential oils from healing plants can be used to calm anxiety, lift depression, fight fungus, ease pain or reduce digestive distress.

Show 1101: How You Can Use Essential Oils for Better Health (Archive)
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Grow lavender! Or have friends that do. I just put some of the flowers in a little cloth bag that I keep near my pillow. The flowers dry and last a very long time – years. If I am having trouble sleeping, I just squeeze the little bag and take some whiffs. I know that it is authentic lavender, and much cheaper than buying the essential oil.

As former elder planner found that several clients requested help in purchasing high quality lavender. And it was most pronounced in people in cognitive decline. Some major hospitals offer aroma therapy of which lavender is the most popular and seemingly helpful scent in allaying physical and emotional discomfort. Me? Yes, me too. Even use lavender scented dry shampoo for dog which she enjoys. PS. Quality matters. Search online for growers. Lavendar is not a pricey herb in natural form.

I have trouble sleeping or I Did, until I tried the sprays for Lavender. I spray the bed and pillow before starting my bedtime routine. It helps so much, so I got a tube of lavender Oil. Says to put behind the ears, and sounded great. It did nothing, no smell At All ? Got it at CVS. Their peppermint oil was good to retard insects, rodents from the doorways, but just so disappointed in the lavender Oil. ? Think I threw it out- just did nothing, No smell. ?

Let’s realize that there are very few pure,non-synthetic or non- adulterated essential oils on the market.

Never liked the smell of lavender. But since stopping my med, with much difficulty, I pour a small amount in my beaded eye mask. Heat in microwave and use. Asleep in no time. I really do believe it works.

Shop carefully for lavender. World wide production of lavender-containing products far exceeds actual harvests: counterfeit products smell like the real thing but are inert. Determining whether the lavender is legit or not requires the use of very sophisticated and expensive analytical laboratory equipment so real lavender may reflect these examinations in higher costs.

I just started using lavender oil with a cutting oil to help me sleep through the night. I put the mixture in a small bottle that has a glass rotating ball, and apply it to my face. So far it seems to be helping.

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