Essential oils have been used for healing purposes for centuries by other cultures. Western cultures, particularly the US, have been slower to investigate and embrace the use of essential oils in mainstream medicine. Their effectiveness has been largely considered anecdotal and on the fringe. In my own practice, I am just beginning to advocate their usage as effective complementary and first-line therapies.
I am particularly excited about lavender oil and its use in treating anxiety. A new meta-analysis published last month concludes that oral lavender oil can be as effective as lorazepam (a benzodiazepine) in treating anxiety without the potential for abuse and without any serious side effects. This same meta-analysis compared lavender oil to paroxetine (an SSRI) and found similar results in treating anxiety. The only real side effect identified in the studies seems to be mild gastrointestinal issues which have been affectionately coined “lavender burps”.
I am excited to start using lavender oil in my practice as an anxiety treatment. If you are considering lavender oil, I recommend looking for supplements that contain Silexan (80 to 160mg) which is the brand used in the studies.