To answer the question, is lavender really calming…
By: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, RA, LMT, RYT
There is much scientific research on this topic. Several human studies across a wide variety of settings with a diverse array of populations have demonstrated the calming effects of inhaling lavender aroma. Lavender aromatherapy has shown to lower blood pressure and relax the sympathetic nervous system. Studies have also measured a positive effect on mood: reducing depression, anxiety, and stress through the inhalation of this essential oil. The active constituent(s) demonstrating a calming effect are linalool  , and a synergistic effect of linalool in combination with linalyl acetate. The activation of serotonergic neurotransmission in the brain may play a role in lavender’s anxiolytic properties.
Here are some ways to enjoy the aroma of lavender:
- Breath it in. Place about 4 drops of lavender essential oil in a 5 ounce cool mist diffuser to relax.
- Make a tea. Add 2 ounces of fresh or 1 ounces of dried lavender to hot water.
- First, collect fresh EDIBLE flowers and tops which have NOT have been sprayed with pesticides or collected near a road (pollution). Very gently rinse them clean and inspect for bugs or dirt. Set aside.
- Heat water in a pan. The temperature should be hot, but cool enough that you can put your fingers in it (about 170 degrees).
- Pour the heated water onto the herb and steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain and remove plant material, leaving just the water.
- Add honey to taste. Serve hot or chilled.
- Take a lavender bath.
- 1/2 cup jojoba oil
- 1 cup of Epsom or sea salt
- 3 drops of lavender essential oil
- Instructions: Mix the jojoba and essential oils together. Pour onto salt and mix. Add about a half cup into a bath and enjoy!
- Create a Lavender eye pillow or neck wrap. Fill a comfortable tube sock with dried lavender and tie a knot at the end.
Studies related to the calming effects of lavender:
- Both adults and infants showed a reduced depressed affect in their EEG with inhalation of rosemary and lavender.
- Depression and anxiety were reduced in hemodialysis patients with this essential oil in aromatherapy.
- Hospice patients inhaled lavender and showed a slight improvement in vital signs, depression, and sense of well-being.
- Aroma inhalation decreased test taking anxiety in students.
- This aroma had an effect on salivary endocrinological stress markers in 30 healthy students.
- Lavender aroma reduced task related anxiety in young adults.
- Aromatherapy helped reduce postpartum effects in women.
- Lavandula angustifolia aromatherapy showed modest efficacy in reducing agitated behavior in patients with severe dementia. In another study, lavender helped alleviate agitated behaviors in Chinese patients with dementia.
- Lavender aromatherapy improved anxiety and depression at a women’s clinic. 
- Patients who inhaled a blend of lavender, ylang ylang and bergamot had reduced psychological stress responses, serum cortisol levels, and blood pressure. In a previous study at the same location, aromatherapy of lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and clary sage reduced stress in nursing students.
- Lavender eased anxiety of subjects undergoing medical procedures by showing a significant increase in parasympathetic activity.
- This essential oil’s aroma reduced pre-procedure stress in patients.
- Lavender odor reduced mental stress and increased arousal in participants.
- Lavender aromatherapy induced relaxation as well as arousal level in young female subjects.
- This aroma reduced anxiety in patients undergoing gastroscopy.
- Lavender scent reduced anxiety in dental patients.
- Both mothers and infants were more relaxed after giving baby a bath with scented lavender.
- Linalool applied to the skin with a mask covering the nose to prevent smelling had a sedative effect in humans.
- Aromatherapy with a blend of lemon, lavender, and ylang ylang was effective in lowering systolic blood pressure and the sympathetic nervous system.
- Inhalation of an essential oil blended with lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli had a relaxing effect and reduced blood pressure in humans.
- Lavender inhalation had a relaxing effect, causing a significant decrease of blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature in a small study with 20 participants.
- Lavender aromatherapy significantly decreased stress levels and pain before needle insertion in 30 volunteers.
- Lavender, marjoram, eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint in an aromatherapy blend reduced depression and pain in those with arthritis.
- Lavendula angustifolium in bath oil may have had an improved psychological effect.
- Lavender, geranium, rose, and jasmine in an aromatherapy massage may exert positive effects on blood pressure.
- Aromatherapy massage using lavender, chamomile, rosemary, and lemon reduced anxiety and improved self-esteem. In Korean elderly women.
- Orange and lavender aromatherapy reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment.
- Lavandula angustifolia and Salvia sclaria reduced stress of ICU nurses.
- Lavender and rosemary essential oil sachets reduced test-taking stress in graduate nursing students.
- A blend of lavender and bergamot essential oils had a relaxing effect in humans.
- In a four-week double blind randomized trial, a lavender angustifolia tincture along with imipramine was more effective than imipramine alone in reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
- A hand massage with bergamot, lavender, and frankincense reduced pain, anxiety, and depression in hospice patients.
- Inhalation therapy of lavender and bergamot was very effective in balancing the autonomic nervous system in 64 patients undergoing this urodynamic study.
- A hot lavender foot-bath created a small but significant change in autonomic nervous system activity.
- In a randomized crossover study with 26 participants, lavender inhalation may have modified mood to reduce the impression of pain.
- Those treated with lavender and massage had reduced anxiety in an intensive care unit.
- Lavender and the oil dripping treatment called Shirodhara reduced anxiety.
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 Elisabetsky, E., Marschner, J., & Souza, D. O. (1995). Effects of linalool on glutamatergic system in the rat cerebral cortex. Neurochemical research, 20(4), 461-465.
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 Sanders, C., Diego, M., Fernandez, M., Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., & Roca, A. (2002). EEG asymmetry responses to lavender and rosemary aromas in adults and infants. International Journal of Neuroscience, 112(11), 1305-1320.
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