Alongside physical symptoms of menopause, some women are also plagued with mental health ailments, including anxiety. Unfortunately, commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications often cause considerate side effects. This 2018 clinical trial evaluated the effects of two herbs, lavender and bitter orange, on anxiety in postmenopausal women.
For this triple-blind, randomized, controlled trial, researchers recruited 156 postmenopausal women, with mild to moderate anxiety. They divided them into three groups, each with a different regimen:
- Intervention group 1 received 500 mg bitter orange powder capsules twice daily
- Intervention group 2 got 500 mg lavender flower powder capsules twice daily
- Control group was given 500 mg starch capsules twice daily
Active compounds in lavender capsules included linalool (36.12%), linalyl acetate (26.32%), and caryophyllene (7.55%), while those in butter orange capsules were limonene (20%), linalool (32%), and flavonoids (5%).
The trial lasted for eight weeks. Researchers measured outcomes using the Spielberg's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).
Postmenopausal women in both intervention groups showed significantly reduced state-anxiety scores in comparison to those in the control group.
Additionally, lavender group participants had substantially lowered trait-anxiety scores relative to the control group.
Overall, 83.4% of women in the bitter orange group and 83.7% in the lavender group reported good improvements, in contrast to 43.8% of women in the control group. Likewise, a great majority of women in both intervention groups expressed high satisfaction.
What Does It Mean?
As can be seen in the results of this clinical trial, bitter orange and lavender reduce anxiety in postmenopausal women. The findings of this trial were published in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice journal.
Only a handful of other studies assessed the effects of oral consumption of lavender and bitter orange for menopause relief. The most widely studied form of administration of these sedative and anxiolytic herbs is aromatherapy, including using lavender aromatherapy for anxiety and depression.
Researchers urge to consider including them in the treatment of anxiety in women passing through the menopausal transition. This gives hope for safe and natural relief to an estimated 30% of middle-aged women suffering from anxiety.1
- Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. (2018). Comparison of the effect of lavender and bitter orange on anxiety in postmenopausal women: A triple-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Retrieved March 10, 2021 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1744388117304012
- Menopause. (2014). Mood disorders in midlife women: understanding the critical window and its clinical implications. Retrieved March 10, 2021 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24448106/