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Lavender


What is it?

Lavender is an herb. The flower and the oil of lavender are used to make medicine.

Lavender is used for restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, and depression. It is also used for a variety of digestive complaints including meteorism (abdominal swelling from gas in the intestinal or peritoneal cavity), loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas (flatulence), and upset stomach.

Some people use lavender for painful conditions including migraine headaches, toothaches, sprains, nerve pain, sores, and joint pain. It is also used for acne and cancer, and to promote menstruation.

Lavender is applied to the skin for hair loss (alopecia areata) and pain, and to repel mosquitoes and other insects.

Some people add lavender to bathwater to treat circulation disorders and improve mental well being.

By inhalation, lavender is used as aromatherapy for insomnia, pain, and agitation related to dementia.

In foods and beverages, lavender is used as a flavor component.

In manufacturing, lavender is used in pharmaceutical products and as a fragrance ingredient in soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, potpourri, and decorations.

Lavender (scientific name Lavandula angustifolia) is commonly contaminated with related species, including Lavandula hybrida, which is a cross between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia, from which lavandin oil is obtained.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for LAVENDER are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Hair loss in a condition called alopecia areata when applied to the scalp in combination with oils from thyme, rosemary, and cedarwood. There is some evidence that this combination might improve hair growth by as much as 44% after 7 months of treatment.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Depression. In mild to moderate depression, tincture of lavender appears to be slightly less effective than the medication imipramine (Tofranil).
  • Sleeplessness (insomnia). Developing research suggests using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight or on a gauze pad left beside the bed, might help some people with mild insomnia.
  • Agitation in dementia. Study results have not agreed. In one study, nightly use of lavender oil in a bedside diffuser for 3 weeks reduced agitation in patients with various types of dementia. However, in another study, continuous use of lavender oil on a pad attached to a patient's shirt had no effect in a small group of patients with advanced dementia.
  • General psychological well being. Some research suggests that adding 3 mL of a 20% lavender oil and 80% grapeseed oil mixture to daily baths produces small improvements in mood, compared with baths containing grapeseed oil alone.
  • Migraine. Some research suggests that rubbing 2 or 3 drops of lavender oil on the upper lip, so that the vapor is inhaled, might reduce migraine pain and nausea, and help stop the headache spreading.
  • Colic.
  • Headache.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Toothache.
  • Acne.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Cancer.
  • Use as a mosquito repellent and insect repellent.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate lavender for these uses.

How does it work?

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Lavender contains an oil that seems to have sedating effects and might relax certain muscles.

Are there safety concerns?

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Lavender is LIKELY SAFE for most adults in food amounts and POSSIBLY SAFE in medicinal amounts. When taken by mouth, lavender can cause constipation, headache, and increased appetite.

Applying lavender to the skin can sometimes cause irritation.

Special precautions & warnings:

Children: Applying products to the skin that contain lavender oil might not be safe for young boys who have not yet reached puberty. Lavender oil seems to have hormone effects that could disrupt the normal hormones in a boy's body. In some cases, this has resulted in boys developing abnormal breast growth called gynecomastia. The safety of these products when used by young girls is not known.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lavender during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Surgery: Lavender might slow down the central nervous system. If used in combination with anesthesia and other medications given during and after surgery, it might slow down the central nervous system too much. Stop using lavender at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

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Moderate

Be cautious with this combination.

Chloral Hydrate
Chloral hydrate causes sleepiness and drowsiness. Lavender seems to increase the effects of chloral hydrate. Taking lavender along with chloral hydrate might cause too much sleepiness.

Sedative medications (Barbiturates)
Lavender might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking lavender along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), secobarbital (Seconal), and others.

Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Lavender might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking lavender along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

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There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

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The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For bald spots (alopecia areata): one study used a combination of essential oils including 3 drops (108 mg) of lavender, 3 drops (114 mg) of rosemary, 2 drops (88 mg) of thyme, and 2 drops (94 mg) of cedarwood, all mixed with 3 mL jojoba oil and 20 mL grapeseed oil. Each night, the mixture is massaged into the scalp for 2 minutes with a warm towel placed around the head to increase absorption.

Other names

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Alhucema, Common Lavender, English Lavender, French Lavender, Garden Lavender, Huile Essentielle de Lavande, Lavanda, Lavande, Lavande à Feuilles Étroites, Lavande Anglaise, Lavande Commune, Lavande des Alpes, Lavande du Jardin, Lavande Espagnole, Lavande Fine, Lavande Française, Lavande Officinale, Lavande Vraie, Lavandula, Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula dentate, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula pubescens, Lavandula spica, Lavandula stoechas, Lavandula vera, Lavender Essential Oil, Ostokhoddous, Spanish Lavender, Spike Lavender, True Lavender.

Methodology

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To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).

References

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To see all references for the Lavender page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/838.html.

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Page last updated: 27 October 2014