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. Research shows that lavender aromatherapy may improve symptoms in some people with depression. Taking lavender preparations by mouth might also help. While taking lavender appears to be slightly less effective than the antidepressant drug imipramine, taking the two in combination might be more beneficial than taking the drug alone.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Lavender oil aromatherapy massages reduce pain associated with menstruation in some young women better than regular massages. Also, inhaling lavender oil for the first 3 days of menstruation seems to reduce stomach pain and backache in women with menstrual pain.
- Pain after surgery. Some research shows that inhaling lavender essence while receiving pain killers intravenously (by IV) can help reduce pain in women after a C-section. Other research shows that inhaling lavender for 3 minutes every 6 hours can lessen pain and reduce the need to use acetaminophen 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 reduce cancer-related pain compared to massages alone.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Patchy hair loss (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.
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis). Early research shows that using a combination of lavender oil and other herbal essential oils for aromatherapy massage does not improve skin irritation during the day or the ability to sleep at night in children with itchy and inflamed skin.
- Canker sores. Research shows that applying 2 drops of lavender oil to the affected area three times daily can reduce canker sore swelling and pain and shorten the time it takes for canker sores to heal.
- Excessive crying in infants (colic). Results from one small study show that massaging a combination of lavender and almond oils onto the belly of infants for 5-15 minutes at the onset of colic reduces crying time by about 7 hours per week.
- 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 dementia-related agitation. Also, using aromatherapy massages doesn't seem to improve mental function in people with dementia.
- Fall prevention. There is some evidence that attaching a pad with lavender oil onto the neckline of clothing reduces the risk of falling by 43% in nursing home residents.
- Fatigue. Early research shows 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.
- High blood pressure. Early research shows that using an essential oil mixture of lavender, lemon, and ylang ylang as aromatherapy might reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) but not diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) in people with high blood pressure.
- Insomnia. Early research shows that using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight, or on a gauze pad, cotton ball, 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 shows that inhaling the scent of lavender essence three separate times during labor can reduce overall pain in labor.
- Lice. Early research shows 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.
- Symptoms of menopause. Some research shows that inhaling the scent of lavender essence for 4-12 weeks can reduce symptoms of menopause such as flushing.
- 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 osteoarthritis pain compared to massaging with unscented oil or no massage at all.
- Ear infection (otitis media). Early research shows 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.
- Pain. Some research shows that lavender aromatherapy might help reduce pain from needle insertion. Also, inhaling the scent of lavender oil before a gynecological exam seems to reduce pain during the exam. But lavender aromatherapy doesn't seem to reduce pain during wound dressing changes. Lavender oil aromatherapy also seems to reduce needle stick pain in infants.
- Nausea and vomiting after surgery. Some research shows that inhaling lavender oil from a cotton pad might help reduce nausea and vomiting shortly after surgery.
- Complications after childbirth. Adding lavender oil to baths seems to reduce redness in the area between the vagina and anus shortly after childbirth. It might also reduce pain in this area, but results are conflicting. Inhaling the scent of lavender oil in the morning, 6 hours later, and at bedtime seems to improve pain, fatigue, distress, and mood in women on the first day after delivery.
- Anxiety before surgery. Some people use lavender aromatherapy for reducing anxiety before surgery or other medical or dental procedures. But it's unclear if it's beneficial. Results from research are conflicting.
- Feelings of well-being. Some research shows 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. But other research shows that adding lavender oil to aromatherapy massage does not improve well-being or quality of life in cancer patients.
- 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 for 10-45 minutes 2-3 times weekly can reduce the severity of restless legs syndrome in people with kidney failure who are undergoing dialysis. But one study suggests that receiving massage with lavender is no better for improving RLS symptoms than unscented massage.
- Stress. Inhaling the scent of lavender oil before a gynecological exam seems to reduce distress after the exam. But 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.
- Absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea).
- Gas (flatulence).
- Indigestion (dyspepsia).
- Insect repellent.
- Loss of appetite.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Nerve pain.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- 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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