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. There is some evidence that applying lavender oil in combination with oils from thyme, rosemary, and cedarwood might improve hair growth by as much as 44% after 7 months of treatment.
- Anxiety. Some research shows that taking lavender oil by mouth for 6-10 weeks improves anxiety and sleep and prevents anxiety recurrence in people with mild-to-severe anxiety. However, lavender does not seem to be more effective than the anti-anxiety medication lorazepam (Ativan). So far, early studies disagree about the effectiveness of using lavender oil as aromatherapy for treating anxiety.
- Canker sores. Some research shows that applying two drops of lavender oil to the affected area three times daily can improve canker sore healing and reduce canker sore swelling and pain.
- Fall prevention. There is some evidence that attaching a pad with lavender oil onto the neckline of clothing reduces falls in nursing home residents.
- Pain after Cesarean section (C-section). Some research suggests that inhaling lavender essence while receiving pain killers intravenously (by IV) can help reduce pain in women after a C-section.
Possibly ineffective for...
- Cancer-related pain. Some research shows that using lavender oil for aromatherapy massage does not reduce pain in people with cancer-related pain.
- Dementia. Applying lavender oil to the collar of clothing or using lavender oil for aromatherapy massage does not seems to improve mental function in people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
- Pain in the area between the vulva and anus in females (perineal pain). Most research shows that adding lavender oil to baths does not improve perineal pain. However, some evidence suggests that lavender oil baths might reduce perineal pain immediately after childbirth.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Agitation. There is conflicting evidence on the efficacy of lavender aromatherapy for agitation. Some evidence suggests that lavender aromatherapy improves agitation in people with Alzheimer’s disease, while other evidence shows no effect.
- Itchy and inflamed skin (eczema). Early research shows that using a combination of lavender oil and other herbal essential oils for aromatherapy massage does not improve skin irritation in children with itchy and inflamed skin.
- Colic. Results from a small research study show that massaging a combination of lavender and almond oils into the belly of infants for 5-15 minutes at the onset of colic reduces crying time.
- Constipation. Early research shows that massaging a combination of lavender, lemon, rosemary, and cypress oils onto the stomach might improve symptoms of constipation.
- Depression. There are conflicting results regarding the effects of lavender oil aromatherapy for treating depression. Some research suggests that lavender oil aromatherapy massage does not improve depression in cancer patients. Other research shows that it might improve mood in women experiencing depression after childbirth (post-partum depression). Early research suggests that taking lavender oil by mouth for 6 weeks might improve depression in people with depression. Tincture of lavender appears to be slightly less effective than the medication imipramine (Tofranil) for treating depression, but taking the two in combination might improve the antidepressant effects of imipramine.
- Menstrual pain. Lavender oil massages might reduce pain associated with menstruation in young women better than regular massages.
- High blood pressure. Early research suggests that using an essential oil mixture of lavender, lemon, and ylang ylang as aromatherapy might reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
- Sleeplessness (insomnia). Early research suggests that using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight, or on a gauze pad left beside the bed, might help some people with mild insomnia sleep better.
- Lice. Early research suggests that applying a combination of lavender and tea tree oil to the skin helps kill lice eggs and reduce the number of live lice. It is unclear if the effects are caused by lavender alone or the combination of lavender and tea tree oil.
- Migraine. Early 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.
- Ear infections. Early research suggests that administering ear drops containing lavender and other herbal extracts improves ear pain in people with ear infections. However, this herbal combination does not appear to be more effective than using a skin-numbing agent along with the antibiotic amoxicillin.
- 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. However, other research suggests that adding lavender oil to aromatherapy massage does not improve well-being or quality of life in cancer patients.
- Wound healing. Early research suggests that using lavender oil as aromatherapy during bandage changes does not reduce pain in people with vascular wounds.
- Loss of appetite.
- Use as a mosquito repellent and insect repellent.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate lavender for these uses.
Lavender contains an oil that seems to have sedating effects and might relax certain muscles.
Lavender is LIKELY SAFE for most adults in food amounts. It’s POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth, applied to the skin, or inhaled in medicinal amounts.
When taken by mouth, lavender can cause constipation, headache, and increased appetite. When applied to the skin, lavender can sometimes cause irritation.
Special precautions & warnings:
Children: Applying products to the skin that contain lavender oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE 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: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking lavender if you are pregnant or 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.
Be cautious with this combination.
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.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Lavender might decrease blood pressure in some people. Taking lavender along with medications used for lowering high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Do not take too much lavender if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
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 (Benzodiazepines)
Lavender might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness and drowsiness are called sedatives. Taking melatonin along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some of these sedative medications include lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), midazolam (Versed), 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.
Herbs and supplements that might cause sleepiness
Lavender might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Using lavender along with other herbs and supplements with similar effects might cause too much sleepiness. Some of these supplements include 5-HTP, calamus, California poppy, catnip, hops, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John's wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, and others.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure
Lavender might lower blood pressure. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that have the same effect might increase the risk of blood pressure dropping too low in some people. Some of these products include andrographis, casein peptides, cat's claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.
There are no known interactions with foods.
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.
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.
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).
To see all references for the Lavender page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/838.html.
- Dale, A. and Cornwell, S. The role of lavender oil in relieving perineal discomfort following childbirth: a blind randomized clinical trial. J Adv Nurs. 1994;19:89-96. View abstract.
- Cornwell S and Dale A. Lavender oil and perineal repair. Mod Midwife 1995;5:31-33. View abstract.
- Apay, S. E., Arslan, S., Akpinar, R. B., and Celebioglu, A. Effect of aromatherapy massage on dysmenorrhea in Turkish students. Pain Manag.Nurs. 2012;13:236-240. View abstract.
- Conrad, P. and Adams, C. The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman - a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2012;18:164-168. View abstract.
- Sakamoto, Y., Ebihara, S., Ebihara, T., Tomita, N., Toba, K., Freeman, S., Arai, H., and Kohzuki, M. Fall prevention using olfactory stimulation with lavender odor in elderly nursing home residents: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Geriatr.Soc 2012;60:1005-1011. View abstract.
- Altaei, D. T. Topical lavender oil for the treatment of recurrent aphthous ulceration. Am J Dent 2012;25:39-43. View abstract.
- Uehleke, B., Schaper, S., Dienel, A., Schlaefke, S., and Stange, R. Phase II trial on the effects of Silexan in patients with neurasthenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or somatization disorder. Phytomedicine. 6-15-2012;19(8-9):665-671. View abstract.
- Cetinkaya, B. and Basbakkal, Z. The effectiveness of aromatherapy massage using lavender oil as a treatment for infantile colic. Int J Nurs.Pract. 2012;18:164-169. View abstract.
- Hadi, N. and Hanid, A. A. Lavender essence for post-cesarean pain. Pak.J Biol.Sci 6-1-2011;14:664-667. View abstract.
- Sheikhan, F., Jahdi, F., Khoei, E. M., Shamsalizadeh, N., Sheikhan, M., and Haghani, H. Episiotomy pain relief: Use of Lavender oil essence in primiparous Iranian women. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2012;18:66-70. View abstract.
Grunebaum, L. D., Murdock, J., Castanedo-Tardan, M. P., and Baumann, L. S. Effects of lavender olfactory input on cosmetic procedures. J Cosmet.Dermatol 2011;10:89-93. View abstract.
- Chung, M. and Choi, E. [A comparison between effects of aroma massage and meridian massage on constipation and stress in women college students]. J Korean Acad Nurs. 2011;41:26-35. View abstract.
- Vakilian, K., Atarha, M., Bekhradi, R., and Chaman, R. Healing advantages of lavender essential oil during episiotomy recovery: a clinical trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011;17:50-53. View abstract.
- Cha, J. H., Lee, S. H., and Yoo, Y. S. [Effects of aromatherapy on changes in the autonomic nervous system, aortic pulse wave velocity and aortic augmentation index in patients with essential hypertension]. J Korean Acad Nurs. 2010;40:705-713. View abstract.
- Kasper, S., Gastpar, M., Muller, W. E., Volz, H. P., Moller, H. J., Dienel, A., and Schlafke, S. Silexan, an orally administered Lavandula oil preparation, is effective in the treatment of 'subsyndromal' anxiety disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010;25:277-287. View abstract.
- Kritsidima, M., Newton, T., and Asimakopoulou, K. The effects of lavender scent on dental patient anxiety levels: a cluster randomised-controlled trial. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2010;38:83-87. View abstract.
- Woelk, H. and Schlafke, S. A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine. 2010;17:94-99. View abstract.
- Braden, R., Reichow, S., and Halm, M. A. The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients. J Perianesth.Nurs. 2009;24:348-355. View abstract.
- Hoya, Y., Matsumura, I., Fujita, T., and Yanaga, K. The use of nonpharmacological interventions to reduce anxiety in patients undergoing gastroscopy in a setting with an optimal soothing environment. Gastroenterol.Nurs. 2008;31:395-399. View abstract.
- Fujii, M., Hatakeyama, R., Fukuoka, Y., Yamamoto, T., Sasaki, R., Moriya, M., Kanno, M., and Sasaki, H. Lavender aroma therapy for behavioral and psychological symptoms in dementia patients. Geriatr.Gerontol.Int 2008;8:136-138. View abstract.
- Muzzarelli, L., Force, M., and Sebold, M. Aromatherapy and reducing preprocedural anxiety: A controlled prospective study. Gastroenterol Nurs 2006;29:466-471. View abstract.
- Kane, F. M., Brodie, E. E., Coull, A., Coyne, L., Howd, A., Milne, A., Niven, C. C., and Robbins, R. The analgesic effect of odour and music upon dressing change. Br.J Nurs. 10-28-2004;13:S4-12. View abstract.
- Soden, K., Vincent, K., Craske, S., Lucas, C., and Ashley, S. A randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting. Palliat.Med 2004;18:87-92. View abstract.
- Louis, M. and Kowalski, S. D. Use of aromatherapy with hospice patients to decrease pain, anxiety, and depression and to promote an increased sense of well-being. Am.J Hosp.Palliat.Care 2002;19:381-386. View abstract.
- Holmes, C., Hopkins, V., Hensford, C., MacLaughlin, V., Wilkinson, D., and Rosenvinge, H. Lavender oil as a treatment for agitated behaviour in severe dementia: a placebo controlled study. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2002;17:305-308. View abstract.
- Anderson C, Lis-Balchin M, and Kirk-Smith M. Evaluation of massage with essential oils on childhood atopic eczema. Phytother Res 2000;14:452-456. View abstract.
- Lee, S. Y. [The effect of lavender aromatherapy on cognitive function, emotion, and aggressive behavior of elderly with dementia]. Taehan Kanho.Hakhoe.Chi 2005;35:303-312. View abstract.
- Hur, M. H., Oh, H., Lee, M. S., Kim, C., Choi, A. N., and Shin, G. R. Effects of aromatherapy massage on blood pressure and lipid profile in korean climacteric women. Int J Neurosci. 2007;117:1281-1287. View abstract.
- Sarrell, E. M., Cohen, H. A., and Kahan, E. Naturopathic treatment for ear pain in children. Pediatrics 2003;111(5 Pt 1):e574-e579. View abstract.
- Barker SC and Altman PM. A randomised, assessor blind, parallel group comparative efficacy trial of three products for the treatment of head lice in children--melaleuca oil and lavender oil, pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide, and a "suffocation" product. BMC Dermatol 2010;10:6. View abstract.
- Barker SC and Altman PM. An ex vivo, assessor blind, randomised, parallel group, comparative efficacy trial of the ovicidal activity of three pediculicides after a single application--melaleuca oil and lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and lemon tea tree oil, and a "suffocation" pediculicide. BMC Dermatol 2011;11:14. View abstract.
- Sasannejad P, Saeedi M, Shoeibi A, et al. Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur Neurol 2012;67:288-91. View abstract.
- Hirokawa K, Nishimoto T, Taniguchi T. Effects of lavender aroma on sleep quality in healthy Japanese students. Perceptual and Motor Skills 2012;114:111-22. View abstract.
- Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. J Altern Complement Med 2005;11:631-7. View abstract.
- Lin PW, Chan W, Ng BF, Lam LC. Efficacy of aromatherapy (Lavandula angustifolia) as an intervention for agitated behaviours in Chinese older persons with dementia: a cross-over randomized trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;22:405-10. View abstract.
- Morris N. The effects of lavender (Lavendula angustifolium) baths on psychological well-being: two exploratory randomised control trials. Complement Ther Med 2002;10:223-8. View abstract.
- Henley DV, Lipson N, Korach KS, Bloch CA. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. N Eng J Med 2007;356:479-85. View abstract.
- Hajhashemi V, Ghannadi A, Sharif B. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the leaf extracts and essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. J Ethnopharmacol 2003;89:67-71. View abstract.
- Lynn A, Hovanec L, Brandt J. A Controlled Trial of Aromatherapy for Agitation in Nursing Home Patients with Dementia. J Alt Comp Med 2004;431-7. View abstract.
- Akhondzadeh S, Kashani L, Fotouhi A, et al. Comparison of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. tincture and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2003;27:123-7. View abstract.
- Buckle J. Use of aromatherapy as a complementary treatment for chronic pain. Altern Ther Health Med 1999;5:42-51. View abstract.
- Fetrow CW, Avila JR. Professional's Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines. 1st ed. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 1999.
- Hay IC, Jamieson M, Ormerod AD. Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata. Arch Dermatol 1998;134:1349-52. View abstract.
- Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid= 786bafc6f6343634fbf79fcdca7061e1&rgn=div5&view= text&node=21:220.127.116.11.13&idno=21
- Wichtl MW. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Ed. N.M. Bisset. Stuttgart: Medpharm GmbH Scientific Publishers, 1994.
- Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. Terry C. Telger, transl. 3rd ed. Berlin, GER: Springer, 1998.
- The Review of Natural Products by Facts and Comparisons. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Co., 1999.
- Show more references
- Show fewer references
Last reviewed - 11/12/2014
This copyrighted, evidence-based medicine resource is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database disclaims any responsibility related to consequences of using any product. This monograph should not replace advice from a healthcare professional and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
Copyright © 1995 - 2015 Therapeutic Research Faculty
, publishers of Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
, Prescriber’s Letter
, Pharmacist’s Letter
. All rights reserved. For scientific data on natural medicines, professionals may consult the Professional Version of Natural Medicines Comprehensive DatabaseNatural Medicines Comprehensive Database (http://www.naturaldatabase.com/)