Lavender Oil for Mixed Anxiety and Depression
Reviewer: Tori Hudson, N.D.
Author: Kasper S, Volz H, Dienel A, Schlafke S.
Reference: Efficacy of Silexan in mixed anxiety-depression- A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. European Neuropsychopharmacology 2016;26:331-340.
Design: The purpose of the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group multicenter trial was to determine the efficacy and safety of oral lavender essential oil( Silexan) in patients suffering from mixed anxiety and depressive disorder (MADD). The 318 individuals entering the study were randomized to the treatment group or placebo, one capsule per day for 70 days. The lavender essential oil was produced from Lavandula angustifolia flowers by steam distillation with immediate-release soft capsules containing 80 mg of the lavender essential oil.
Participants: Men and women between ages 18 and 65 were selected if they suffered from MADD and who had been diagnosed by a specialized psychiatrist. A total of 318 individuals entered the study and had to present with a total score of > 18 on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA) and minimum scores of 2 points (moderate intensity) for HAMA anxious moods and depressed mood during the study inclusion assessment and at baseline. Individuals with any previous suicide attempts, aggressive behavior or a score of 2 or more points on the suicidal thoughts on the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) were excluded. Other exclusions that occurred were personality disorders, history of substance abuse, or the administration of any psychotrophic drugs within 30 days of randomization. No psychotropic medications or psychotherapy was allowed during the study.
Primary Outcome: The primary outcome measurements were the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA), and Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the total score changes between baseline and the end of treatment.
Key Findings: The HAMA total scored decreased by 10.8 points for lavender and 8.4 points for placebo. The total score decreases for MADRS were 9.2 points for lavender and 6.1 points for placebo. Compared to the placebo, the men and women in the lavender group had a better over-all clinical outcome and showed more significant improvements in their daily living skills and health related quality of life. There was a higher incidence of eructation in the Lavender group.
Practice Implications: There have now been numerous studies investigating lavender essential oil and anxiety disorders or other conditions where anxiety predominates. These trials all suggest that lavender essential oil clearly has an anxiolytic effect and clinically effective for general anxiety disorder, but suggestive of some anti-depressant effect as well. This current study demonstrates that the oil of lavender at 80 mg/day is also effective for mixed anxiety and depressive disorder. This is vitally important in my women’s health practice as anxiety-depression are more common primary care problems in women vs men, and it is often the case that the anxiety and depression are similarly important. Other research has shown that lavender essential oil inhibits voltage dependent calcium channels (VOCC) in synaptosomes, significantly reduces the 5-HT 1A binding potential in select portions of the brain leading to an increase of extracellular serotonin levels.
 Kasper et al. Lavender oil preparation Silexan is effective in generalized anxiety disorder–a randomized, double-blind comparison to placebo and paroxetine. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Jun;17(6):859-69.
 Baldinger et al. Effects of Silexan on the serotonin-1A receptor and microstructure of the human brain: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over study with molecular and structural neuroimaging. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Oct 31;18(4).