Lavender Oil Capsules For Anxiety

Last updated by Dr Sarah Brewer on

Lavender oil capsules are a traditional herbal medicine for the relief of symptoms of anxiety such as stress and nervousness. More than 15 clinical trials involving 2,200 people show that lavender oil capsules are as effective for treating anxiety as prescribed medication, with significant benefits seen within two weeks.

Lavender oil for anxiety

When inhaled, lavender aromatherapy oil is an effective sedative used to aid sleep – but don’t even think about swigging from that bottle at the back of your cupboard. For safe use by mouth, the lavender oil must come from the flowers of one particular species of lavender, Lavandula angustifolia Miller.

The lavender oil must also be prepared to pharmaceutical standards known as GMP to provide a consistent dose of active ingredients. Other non-pharmaceutical grade lavender oils should not be taken by mouth as they may contain pesticides or other impurities, and contain synthetic chemicals.

How lavender oil reduces anxiety

As many as one in five people feel anxious for a lot or all of the time. Worry and negative, spinning thoughts interfere with self-confidence, the ability to concentrate and can lead to difficulty sleeping.

lavender oil for anxietyThese emotional symptoms, along with racing pulse, nausea, tension and headache, are due to excessive stimulation by excitatory neurotransmitters within the nervous system.

Brain scan studies on 17 healthy men who took lavender oil capsules or placebo for 8 weeks, found that lavender oil works by significantly reducing excess binding of neurotransmitters to specific serotonin-1A receptors in the brain. This allowed free levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters involved in regulating mood and anxiety to rise.

Other studies suggest lavender oil promotes the release of less excitatory neurotransmitters to reduce over-stimulation of nerve cells and anxiety symptoms.


Clinical trials show lavender oil reduces anxiety

A trial involving 27 general practices and psychiatric centres compared the effects of pharmaceutical grade lavender oil against placebo in 216 people with anxiety.

Anxiety scores reduced significantly more in those taking lavender oil capsules than placebo, with effectiveness noticed within two weeks. In those taking lavender oil capsules, 76% had at least a 50% reducing in anxiety symptoms and, on average, anxiety symptoms reduced overall by 59%. There were no unwanted sedative effects.

Lavender oil as effective as anxiety medication

lavender-3Another trial, involving 77 people with generalised anxiety disorder, compared the effectiveness of pharmaceutical grade lavender oil capsules against the prescribed benzodiazepine drug, lorazepam.

Both reduced the physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety, and improved sleep to a similar extent (by around 45%).

The lavender oil capsules were as effective as lorazepam for treating generalized anxiety disorder, with no sedative effects and, importantly, no potential for addiction or drug abuse (unlike the benzodiazepines).

lavender-4Yet another study compared pharmaceutical grade lavender oil capsules against the antidepressant drug, paroxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat anxiety disorders, including panic attacks.

A total of 523 people with generalised anxiety disorder were randomised to take either lavender oil capsules or paroxetine. Results showed both treatments were equally effective, and the lavender oil had beneficial effects on mental health in general, and health-related quality of life.

Clinical trials show lavender oil improves anxiety-related sleep problems

When 170 people with anxiety-related restlessness and disturbed sleep were given either 80mg pharmaceutical grade lavender oil or placebo, once a day for 10 weeks, symptoms decreased significantly more in those taking lavender capsules, with around one-third (31%) achieving remission. This confirms the calming effect of lavender oil in relieving anxiety. The results were even more pronounced in people with moderate to severe anxiety at the start of the trial.

Is oral lavender oil safe?

Clinical trials confirm that pharmaceutical grade lavender oil capsules are safe, with no known interactions.

Unlike when lavender oil is inhaled, the oral capsules are not sedative and that are not habit-forming.

Do not exceed the recommended dose.

Side effects can include belching or burping, and a few people have reported mild skin reactions such as itching or a rash.

If anxiety is persistent or excessive, always seek medical advice.

Have you tried lavender oil? Did you find it effective?

Click here to read my advice on How To Sleep Better Naturally.

Image credits: lanes_health; spinkhealth

About Dr Sarah Brewer

QUORA EXPERT - TOP WRITER 2018 Dr Sarah Brewer MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT, CNHC qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in Natural Sciences, Medicine and Surgery. After working in general practice, she gained a master's degree in nutritional medicine from the University of Surrey. Sarah is a registered Medical Doctor, a registered Nutritionist and a registered Nutritional Therapist. She is an award winning author of over 60 popular self-help books and a columnist for Prima magazine.

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20 thoughts on “Lavender Oil Capsules For Anxiety

  • Helen

    Hiya. I have been prescribed propanolol ‘as needed’ for anxiety. Can I take both? Or should I stick to one or the other? And if so, which would you recommend?! Thanks!

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Helen, According to interactions tool, there are currently no known interactions between lavender oil and propranolol. Best to stick to one or the other, however. Decide on which one to take and see if it works. If not, switch to the other. A professor of psychiatry who researchers lavender oil said he thought it was better than any prescribed medication, but I suspect he was biased! Do keep your doctor informed about which way you decide to go. Other herbal treatments for anxiety are covered in this link. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Dan

    Hello Dr. Sarah. Firstly, thanks for the article and for answering all these questions free of charge! Just curious if you have an opinion on this, I came off short-term Valerian a couple of weeks ago and now I’m try the Kalms Lavender. I understand you shouldn’t take them together as both are known to slow down the nervous system, but, is ten days after stopping Valerian soon enough to be trying the lavender pills? In other words, will the valerian have left my system by now? Thank you in advance. Dan.

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Dan, glad you found the info helpful. A study looking into the half-life of valerian found levels were measurable in the blood for at least 5 hours after dosing. With a half life of up to 2 hours, that means that within a day you would have ‘lost’ all the valerian in your system. Best wishes, Sarah B

      • Dan

        Thanks for your reply! I can’t seem to find anything online about whether or not lavender is suitable for long term use, are you aware of any sources or studies that might help me? Thanks again!

      • DrSarahBrewer

        Hi Dan, Clinical trials have typcially used Lavender oil capsules for 10 weeks. The Patient Information Leaflet for Kalms Lavender One-A-Day suggests that you contact your doctor if symptoms worsen or do not improve after 2 weeks, but does not say you must not use them for longer than this if symptoms have improved. Hope that helps, Sarah B

  • Bree

    Hi Dr Brewer, thank you for this article. I’d like to discuss this mode of therapy with my psychiatrist as I quit a 5 year dependence on lorazepam and now use diazepam intermittently for panic disorder, PTSD and sleep assistance with my fibromyalgia – but find the cognitive impairment and memory dysfunction from long term dependence detrimental to my studies. Do you have a link or the name of any studies mentioned above that I can provide her? I can access most medical journals through my student subscription.

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Bree, I icluded all references in my posts, but they are subtle so as not to interfere with the flow of reading. Mouse over the words and you should find them. Best wishes, Sarah B

      • Stella

        Hello , I have been suffering for over a week with so much anxiousness and fear, I want to take this just worried they won’t work, I firmly believe natural does work . Just worried I guess. And do you think morning best to take them .

      • DrSarahBrewer

        Hi Stella, While I can’t make any promises, a medical professor whose lecture I attended stated that lavender oil capsules were the most effective natural remedy he had every studied for overcoming anxiety. They should not be taken if youare already on another medicine for sleeping or anxiety. The lavender capsule patient information leaflet just says to take one capsule daily without specifying when. You may find it most effective when taken in the morning. Best wishes, Sarah B

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi John, Kalms Night contains valerian to aid sleep and reduce anxiety, while Kalms Lavender is designed to reduced anxiety. I would suggest that you don’t need both and Lavender alone should be fine. While there are no known harmful interactions with lavender, the combination may be sedating. Best wishes, Sarah B

    • DrSarahBrewer

      There does not seem to be a rebound effect, and clinical trials have involved treatment for 10 weeks. The UK Patient Information Leaflet recommends that you see your doctor if symptoms worsen or do not improve after 2 weeks, as benefits are usually expected within this time. Best wishes, Sarah B