Lavender appears to be an effective therapeutic option for the management of anxiety and anxiety-related conditions, according to the findings of a recently published systematic review and meta-analysis.
In their review, the study authors systematically searched various electronic databases (Medline via PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, Google Scholar) for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomized studies (NRSs) assessing the efficacy of lavender on anxiety and anxiety-related conditions. The analysis compared all forms and routes of administration of lavender to any type of control in patients with anxiety involved in anxiety-inducing settings or activities.
The qualitative synthesis included a total of 65 RCTs (N=7993) and 25 NRSs (N=1200) and the quantitative synthesis included 37 RCTs (N=3964). Analysis of the data revealed that 54 RCTs and 17 NRSs included in the qualitative synthesis “reported at least a significant result” favoring the use of lavender for anxiety.
Results obtained from the quantitative synthesis revealed lavender inhalation to be associated with significantly reduced levels of anxiety (Hedges’ g: -0.73; 95% CI: -1.00, -0.46; P <.00001; n=1682), state anxiety (Spielberger’s state-trait anxiety inventory [STAI]-State mean difference: −5.99; 95% CI: −9.39, −2.59; P <.001; n=901), and trait anxiety (STAI-Trait mean difference: −8.14; 95% CI: −14.44, −1.84; P <.05; n=196). It was noted, however, that lavender inhalation was not found to be associated with a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure, which was considered a physiological measure of anxiety.
Study findings also revealed that anxiety levels were significantly reduced in patients taking an oral lavender oil preparation (Silexan 80mg per day) for at least 6 weeks according to the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (mean difference: −2.90; 95% CI: −4.86, −0.95; P =.004; n=1173), as well as the Zung Self-rating Anxiety Scale (mean difference : −2.62; 95% CI: −4.84, −0.39; P <.05; n=451). Additionally, significantly reduced anxiety levels were reported for patients using lavender oil that was administered through massage (Hedges’ g: −0.66; 95% CI: −0.97, −0.35; P <.0001; n=448).
Despite finding an overall positive effect of lavender on anxiety and related conditions, the authors also highlighted various limitations of the analysis in their review. These included the low quality of studies available based on the high risk of bias in the RCTs included, as well as the heterogeneity of the study designs.
“Overall, oral administration of lavender essential oil proves to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, whereas for inhalation there is only an indication of an effect of reasonable size, due to the heterogeneity of available studies,” the study authors concluded. They added, “Lavender essential oil administered through massage appears effective, but available studies are not sufficient to determine whether the benefit is due to a specific effect of lavender.”
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