Lavender is an herb native to the Mediterranean region. It is commonly used to flavor foods and beverages and as a fragrance in soap and other cosmetic products.
Lavender is also one of the most widely grown essential oil crops in the world. This product, which is also referred to as lavender aromatherapy oil, is typically made by distilling the herb’s dried flowers with steam.
Essential oils are too strong to use in their pure form. They are usually diluted with other oils, creams, or gels to reach a solution that contains a small percentage of the essential oil.
Like other essential oils, lavender essential oil is said to benefit your health in a variety of ways. However, many of its uses are not conclusive.
There is some research to suggest lavender oil can provide the following health benefits:
Lavender essential oil can ease symptoms of anxiety, although how and why it helps is debated. One study reported that inhaling lavender reduced anxious feelings in the following situations:
- Preoperative anxiety
- Chest tube removal
- Cosmetic procedures
- Intensive care unit stays
In another study, postpartum women with anxiety demonstrated lower levels of anxiety after using a rose and lavender oil blend for 15 minutes twice weekly for one month.
As a bonus, using lavender essential oil offers a calming effect without sedation, dependence, tolerance, or withdrawal.
Studies have shown that inhaling essential oils — including lavender essential oil — may be a safe alternative to other medications for mild to moderate sleep disturbances.
Using lavender essential oil can promote wound healing. It speeds up the rate of healing, increases the expression of collagen — which keeps your skin elastic and your joints healthy — and enhances the activity of proteins involved in rebuilding tissue.
Although using lavender essential oil can help manage your health, it can be harmful in rare cases.
A 2007 study reported that repeated topical use of lavender essential oil products may cause prepubertal gynecomastia, which is a rare condition that causes breast development in young boys.
While most people that use lavender essential oil never experience negative symptoms, it can trigger an allergic reaction in some cases. When this does occur, it usually shows up as one of the following types of skin reactions:
- Irritation (irritant contact dermatitis)
- Allergic contact dermatitis (delayed hypersensitivity)
- Contact urticaria (immediate hypersensitivity)
Dermatitis is a common reaction your skin might have to any irritating. Usually, dermatitis involves dry, itchy, and reddened skin. You may develop a rash or experience some swelling. Sometimes your skin can blister or flake off.
You may be more familiar with urticaria’s common name — hives. These are swollen bumps that can appear suddenly on your skin. They can be reddish and may come with an itching or burning sensation.
Swallowing large amounts of lavender essential oil can be toxic for children and adults. The signs of lavender essential oil poisoning include:
- Blurred vision
- Breathing difficulties
- Burning or painful throat
- Confusion or decreased alertness
- Diarrhea and stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
If you suspect that you or someone you know may have lavender essential oil poisoning, call your doctor or poison control right way to seek medical help. You may drink water or milk to ease some negative symptoms but do not induce vomiting unless a health care professional tells you to do so.
Amounts and Dosage
Lavender essential oil contains the following compounds, called phytochemicals:
- Linalool acetate
Phytochemicals are nutrients and chemicals that can be found naturally in plants. Most lavender essential oil products are made up of just 1% to 5% pure oil.
How much lavender essential oil is in a dose depends on the product’s manufacturer and your method of use. Different products have varying amounts of pure essential oil due to different dilution ratios. Pure essential oils also have different concentrations of the compounds that may provide health benefits depending on how long the herb was distilled.