Lavender is commonly used for anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It is also used for depression, dementia, pain after surgery, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
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 does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Anxiety. Some research shows that taking a specific type of lavender oil supplement by mouth might improve symptoms in some people with anxiety. Most research also shows that lavender oil aromatherapy or aromatherapy massage improves anxiety.
- Depression. Taking lavender preparations by mouth seem to reduce symptoms of depression. While taking lavender appears to be slightly less effective than the antidepressant drug imipramine, taking the two in combination might have added benefits.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Lavender oil aromatherapy massages seem to reduce pain associated with menstruation better than regular massages. Also, inhaling lavender oil for the first 3 days of menstruation seems to reduce stomach pain and backache.
- Pain after surgery. Some research shows that inhaling lavender essence while receiving pain killers intravenously (by IV) can help reduce pain after a C-section. Other research shows that inhaling lavender for 3 minutes every 6 hours can lessen pain after a tonsillectomy in children 6-12 years old.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Pain in people with cancer. Research shows that using lavender oil for aromatherapy massage doesn't seem to reduce cancer-related pain when compared with massage alone.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Canker sores. Applying lavender oil to canker sores three times daily might speed healing and reduce swelling and pain.
- Excessive crying in infants (colic). Early research suggests that massaging the belly of colicky infants with diluted lavender oil for 5-15 minutes reduces crying time.
- Diseases, such as Alzheimer disease, that interfere with thinking (dementia). Some research shows that using lavender oil in a diffuser at night reduces agitation in people with dementia. But inhaling the scent of lavender oil applied to the shirt collar or on the forearms doesn't seem to decrease agitation.
- Fall prevention. There is some evidence that attaching a pad with lavender oil onto the neckline of clothing is linked with reduced fall risk in nursing home residents.
- Fatigue. Early research suggests that inhaling lavender oil for 15-20 minutes twice daily for 4 weeks reduces fatigue in people undergoing dialysis for kidney disease. However, inhaling lavender less often or for less time might not work.
- Insomnia. Early research shows that using lavender oil on a patch or cotton ball attached to clothes or cloth left beside the bed, might help some people with mild insomnia sleep better. But lavender oil aromatherapy does not seem to help people sleep in hospitals.
- Labor pain. Early research suggests that applying lavender aromatherapy during labor might reduce overall pain.
- Symptoms of menopause. Some research shows that inhaling the scent of lavender essence for 4-12 weeks can reduce symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes.
- Migraine. Early research shows that rubbing 2 or 3 drops of lavender oil on the upper lip and inhaling the vapor might reduce migraine pain and nausea, and help stop the headache spreading.
- Osteoarthritis. Some research shows that massaging the knee with lavender oil three times each week for 3 weeks can reduce pain better than massaging with unscented oil or no massage at all.
- Acute pain. Some research suggests that lavender aromatherapy might reduce pain from needle insertion in infants and adults. Also, inhaling the scent of lavender oil before a gynecological exam seems to reduce pain during the exam.
- Headache after epidural anesthesia. It is unclear if lavender aromatherapy improves headache after epidural anesthesia.
- Nausea and vomiting after surgery. It is unclear if inhaling lavender oil from a cotton pad or gauze reduces nausea and vomiting shortly after surgery.
- Complications after childbirth. It is unclear if adding lavender oil to baths improves healing and pain in women that had received a vaginal surgical cut (epiostomy) during childbirth. Aromatherapy with lavender seems to improve pain, fatigue, and mood in women on the first day after delivery.
- Anxiety before surgery. It is unclear if lavender aromatherapy reduces anxiety before surgery or other medical or dental procedures.
- Depression after childbirth (postpartum depression). Early research suggests that lavender aromatherapy might improve or prevent depression after childbirth.
- Feelings of well-being. Early research in healthy women shows that adding 20% lavender oil to daily baths seems to improve mood. But other research shows that adding lavender oil to aromatherapy massage does not improve well-being or quality of life in patients with cancer.
- A disorder that causes leg discomfort and an irresistible urge to move the legs (restless legs syndrome or RLS). One study shows that massaging the legs with lavender oil might reduce the severity of RLS in people undergoing dialysis. But another study suggests that receiving massage with lavender oil is no better than unscented massage.
- Stress. Lavender aromatherapy doesn't seem to reduce stress after heart bypass surgery. It also doesn't seem to reduce stress in students taking an exam.
- Patchy hair loss (alopecia areata).
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis).
- High blood pressure.
- Insect repellent.
- Nerve pain.
- Ear infection (otitis media).
- Other conditions.
When applied to the skin: Lavender is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin in medicinal amounts. It can sometimes cause irritation, although this is uncommon.
When inhaled: Lavender is POSSIBLY SAFE when inhaled as aromatherapy.
Special Precautions and 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.
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.
Chloral Hydrate interacts with LAVENDER
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) interacts with LAVENDER
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) interacts with LAVENDER
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.
Be cautious with this combination
- Anxiety: 80-160 mg of a specific lavender oil ingredient (Silexan, Dr Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co. KG) has been taken daily for 6-10 weeks. 500 mg of dried, powdered lavender flowers has been taken twice daily for 8 weeks.
- Depression: 80 mg of a specific lavender oil ingredient (Silexan, Dr Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co. KG) has been taken daily for 6 weeks. 60 drops of a diluted lavender tincture have been taken daily for 4 weeks.
- Anxiety: 8 drops of an oil blend containing 2% lavender and rose essential oil has been applied to a cotton pad and inhaled for 15 minutes twice weekly for 4 weeks. The lavender and rose oil formulation was prepared by diluting 2 drops of an essential oil blend containing 75% lavender oil and 25% rose oil diluted in 5 mL of jojoba oil. 3 drops of lavender essential oil has been applied to a cotton pad and inhaled for 5 minutes daily for 1 month. 2 drops of lavender oil have been applied to a cotton pad and kept by the pillow overnight for 1 week. 3 drops of lavender oil have been applied to on a cotton pad and inhaled 30 minutes. Lavender oil has been diffused through a waiting room for 15 minutes.
- Depression: 8 drops of an oil blend containing 2% lavender and rose essential oil has been applied to a cotton pad and inhaled for 15 minutes twice weekly for 4 weeks. The lavender and rose oil formulation was prepared by diluting 2 drops of an essential oil blend containing 75% lavender oil and 25% rose oil diluted in 5 mL of jojoba oil. 5 mL of an aromatherapy oil containing lavender, sweet orange, and bergamot has been massaged into the upper body twice weekly for 8 weeks.
- Menstrual pain: Applying 3 drops of lavender oil to the hands and inhaling every 6 hours or placing 3 drops of oil onto a piece of cotton and inhaling for 30 minutes daily for the first 3 days of menstruation has been used. Also, 2 mL of lavender oil applied on the abdomen for 15 minutes as part of an aromatherapy massage has been used during a menstrual period.
- Pain after surgery: Two drops of 2% lavender essence has been applied to the inside of an oxygen face mask and inhaled for 3 minutes at 3, 8, and 16 hours after receiving pain-relievers for C-section pain.
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