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Can Lavender Pills Help My Anxiety?

March 07, 2023

Ah, the soothing scent of lavender. Spritz it on your pillow, dab it on your wrists, mist it through a diffuser: Instant spa day.

But if you’re struggling with anxiety, should you be popping lavender pills too?

We asked Maryam Syed, DO, a family medicine doctor with the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group in Westport.

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Lavender has been used for thousands of years as aromatherapy.

First, some background.

“Lavender has long been known to help with relaxation and sleep in traditional herbal medicine,” says Dr. Syed. It’s said to lower heart rate and adrenaline levels, regulate breathing, and even help with mood.

There’s a catch, though. Most of these claims are in the realm of aromatherapy — for example, essential oil in a diffuser or massage oil.

We’re waiting on research about lavender pills for anxiety.

Somewhere along the way, someone had the idea to put lavender oil into capsules to be taken orally. Now, you may notice lavender pills marketed as a daily supplement for anxiety.

But don’t stock up just yet.

“Lavender pills, like many other alternative therapies, are not well studied and do not have evidence-based research backing their effectiveness and safety,” says Dr. Syed.

Beyond the question of whether they actually work, “there is little data on how lavender pills interact with other prescription medications, which means there’s a potential for harm,” adds Dr. Syed. “I don’t recommend them at this time.”

> Related: Can Herbal Supplements Cause Heart Arrhythmias?

Instead of lavender pills for anxiety, ask your doctor about St. John’s wort or chamomile.

If you’re experiencing anxiety symptoms, talk to your physician. They can connect you with safe, proven treatments, like therapy and traditional anti-anxiety medication.

They can also suggest an herbal supplement with more research behind it, if that’s your preference.

For instance, “St. John’s wort has been studied to some extent to help with depression and somewhat with anxiety,” says Dr. Syed. “In clinical trials, chamomile has also been shown to have some anti-anxiety benefits, with mixed results when it comes to effectiveness.”

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Before taking any medicine, including herbal, talk to your primary care provider.

Alternative medicine options are growing in popularity in the U.S., which means primary care providers like Dr. Syed are answering more and more patient questions about them. Keep those questions coming.

“There may be potential side effects with other medications you’re taking,” cautions Dr. Syed. “You should always speak to your primary care provider before trying a new medicine, including herbal medicine.”

That goes for lavender oil too. For now, keep it in your diffuser — and out of your mouth.

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