Lavendula officinalis, or Lavender, has been used medicinally for more than 2,500 years to reduce anxiety, soothe headaches and relax smooth muscle (1). It works by inhibiting voltage-dependent calcium channels in synaptosomes, especially in the hippocampal neurons, in a mechanism similar to pregabalin (2). 

There are more than 400 randomized clinical trials demonstrating the effectiveness of lavender for anxiety, insomnia, and depression (3). Aromatherapy and topical lavender massage are most effective for quick results (4). There is a high rate of improvement in symptoms and it is very well tolerated with no risk of dependence and a durable effect. You can try adding lavender essential oil to a weighted silk eye pillow that can be heated or cooled to relieve facial tension while preparing for sleep. 
When used as a massage oil, it also demonstrates an anti-inflammatory effect with improvement in skin irritation caused by eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis (5). Lavender oils should be discontinued if any negative side effects are experienced and all essential oils should be avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy. 
  1. Schuwald AM, Nöldner M, Wilmes T, Klugbauer N, Leuner K, Müller WE. Lavender oil-potent anxiolytic properties via modulating voltage dependent calcium channels. PLoS ONE 8(4):e59998 2013
  2. Donelli D, Antonelli M, Bellinazzi C, Gensini GF, Firenzuoli F. Effects of lavender on anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytomedicine 65:153099 Dec, 2019
  3. Sayed AM, Morsy S, Tawfik GM, Naveed S, Minh-Duc NT, Hieu TH, Ali ZA, Shinkar A, Doheim MF, Hashan MR, Huy NT. The best route of administration of lavender for anxiety: a systematic review and network meta-analysis.Gen Hosp Psychiatry 64:33-40
  4. Vineet Kumar Rai, Priyam Sinha, Kuldeep Singh Yadav, Aparna Shukla, Archana Saxena, Dnyaneshwar Umrao Bawankule, Sudeep Tandon, Feroz Khan, Chandan Singh Chanotiya, Narayan Prasad Yadav. Anti-psoriatic effect of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil and its major components linalool and linalyl acetate, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 261, 2020, 113127, ISSN 0378-8741.

Dr. Andrea Wilson MD