Lavender can reduce fatigue symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to study findings published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
Fatigue, a daily lack of physical or cognitive energy that is not relieved by rest, affects most patients with MS. Previously proposed interventions have tended to involve side effects or showed limited utility. Lavender has been recommended for people with neurasthenia or neurological diseases, and prior studies have indicated lavender impacts fatigue in patients undergoing hemodialysis and women in postpartum. The current study is the first to evaluate the anti-fatigue effects of capsules with lavender flowers in patients with MS, according to the researchers.
Researchers at Kerman University of Medical Sciences in Iran acquired lavender flowers from a medicinal plant shop.
Forty-eight patients aged 20 to 51 years with MS and moderate to severe fatigue (Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS) score 25 or more) were randomly assigned with double-blinding to receive capsules of lavender flowers or placebo. MFIS was similar between the groups at baseline (intervention 40.56±7.63 vs control group 41.43±7.89; P=.706).
For 2 months, patients in the intervention group took 600 mg capsules of lavender 3 times daily while individuals in the placebo group took 600 mg capsules of cornstarch 3 times daily. At weekly follow-up phone calls, patients reported use and any side effects. Researchers assessed participants’ MFIS scores at the end of the trial.
After the intervention, the intervention group had experienced a significant reduction in MFIS scores overall and in subscales compared with the control group (overall 7.04±4.91 vs 38.17±9.78; P<.001). Physical subscale scores decreased to 3.08±2.48 in the intervention group and 17.47±4.17 in the control group. Cognitive subscale scores were reduced to 3.56±3.75 in the intervention group and 17.69±6.26 in the control group (P<.001). Psychosocial group scores were 0.30±0.87 in the intervention group and 2.86±2.13 in the control group (P<.001).
The findings suggest that lavender may be an effective therapeutic option for reducing fatigue symptoms in patients with relapsing-remitting MS.
The researchers concluded that “Although the mechanism of action of lavender and other herbs in lowering fatigue in these patients has not yet been fully understood, it seems that the neuroprotective, antioxidant, and stress-reducing effects of lavender compounds are possible mechanisms supporting these findings .”
Study limitations included a small sample size and possible inability to control some confounders.
Motaghi N, Tajadini H, Shafiei K, et al. Lavender improves fatigue symptoms in multiple sclerosis patients: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Multiple Sclerosis Related Disorders. Published online June 25, 2022. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2022.104000