lavender (generic name)
- Auto Immune Conditions
- Bladder & Kidney Health
- Brain & Nervous System
- Care Transitions
- Dental Health
- Emotional Health
- Eye Health
- Falls Prevention
- Financial Planning
- General Safety
- Health Care Basics
- Healthy Living
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Health
- High Blood Pressure
- Life Transitions
- Lung Health
- Men's Health
- Nutrition & Weight Management
- Pain Management
- Preventive Health
- Sexual Health
- Stomach & Digestive Health
- Stress & Anxiety
- Women's Health
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Common lavender, English lavender, garden lavender, Lavandula burnamii, Lavandula dentate, Lavandula dhofarensis, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula officinalis L., Lavandula stoechas, limonene, NHED (contains Allium sativum, Verbascum thapsus, Calendula flores, Hypericum perfoliatum, lavender, and vitamin E in olive oil), perillyl alcohol, pink lavender, POH, true lavender, white lavender.
Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, Russia, and Africa. It has been used cosmetically and medicinally throughout history. In modern times, lavender is cultivated around the world and the fragrant oils of its flowers are used in aromatherapy, baked goods, candles, cosmetics, detergents, jellies, massage oils, perfumes, powders, shampoo, soaps, and tea. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most common species of lavender used, although other species are in use, including Lavandula burnamii, Lavandula dentate, Lavandula dhofarensis, Lavandula latifolia, and Lavandula stoechas.
Many people find lavender aromatherapy to be relaxing and it has been reported to have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. Overall, the evidence suggests a small positive effect, although additional data from well-designed studies are required before the evidence can be considered strong.
Lavender aromatherapy is also used as a hypnotic, although there is insufficient evidence in support of this use.
Small phase I human trials of the lavender constituent perillyl alcohol (POH) for cancer have suggested safety and tolerability, although efficacy has not been demonstrated.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Anxiety (lavender aromatherapy):
Lavender aromatherapy is traditionally used for relaxation. It is reported to help relieve anxiety in several small studies, although negative results have also been reported. Better research is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Aggressive behavior (in elderly Alzheimer's dementia patients):
Small human trials looking at the effects of lavender aromatherapy on agitation and behavior in patients with Alzheimer's dementia report conflicting results. Better quality studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Agitated behavior (lavender aromatherapy):
Small studies of patients with severe dementia in nursing homes have found that lavender aromatherapy or pinning a cloth to the patient with lavender oil on it may help to decrease agitated behavior. Further well-designed studies are needed in this area before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Alopecia/hair loss (lavender used on the skin):
Small trials have shown that patients who massage essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood) into their scalps daily showed more improvement than the control group. More research of lavender alone is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Antibacterial (lavender used on the skin):
Early laboratory studies suggest that lavender oils may have antibiotic activity.However, this has not been well tested in animal or human studies.
Cancer (perillyl alcohol):
Perillyl alcohol (POH), derived from lavender, might be beneficial in the treatment of some types of cancer. This research has focused on cancers of the pancreas, breast, and intestine. Preliminary small studies in humans suggest safety and tolerability of POH, but effectiveness has not been established.
Small trials investigating the effects of lavender aromatherapy on agitation and behavior in patients with Alzheimer's dementia report conflicting results. Further well-designed studies are needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Preliminary research suggests that lavender may be helpful as an adjunct to prescription antidepressant medications. Additional research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
A small clinical trial used a naturopathic eardrop called NHED (containingAllium sativum,Verbascum thapsus,Calendula flores,Hypericum perfoliatum, lavender, and vitamin E in olive oil) with and without an antibiotic and topical anesthetic. It was found that the ear pain was self-limiting and resolved after a few days with or without antibiotics. This evidence is preliminary and further research is needed before a conclusion about this treatment can be made.
Hypnotic/sleep aid (lavender aromatherapy):
Lavender aromatherapy is often promoted as a sleep aid. Although early evidence suggests possible benefits, more research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Improved workplace efficiency:
Although lavender is a sedative-type aroma, use during recess periods in a work environment after accumulation of fatigue seemed to prevent deterioration of performance in subsequent work sessions. Further well-designed research is needed to confirm these results.
Low back pain:
Early research suggests that the impression of pain intensity and unpleasantness may be reduced after treatment with lavender therapy. Other research has shown that lavender aromatherapy may be effective when used with acupressure for short-term relief of lower back pain. Further research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Early human studies indicate a potential role for lavender aromatherapy in combination with massage in the short-term treatment of neck pain. More studies are needed.
Overall wellbeing (lavender used in a bath):
Preliminary evidence has shown that lavender oil in combination with grape seed oil used in a bath may help to improve overall wellbeing, and decrease anger and frustration. Lavender oil used as aromatherapy has also been shown to increase overall mood. Further well-designed research is needed to confirm these results.
Pain (lavender aromatherapy):
Preliminary research suggests that the impression of pain intensity and unpleasantness may be reduced after treatment with lavender therapy. Other research has shown that lavender aromatherapy may be effective when used with acupressure for short-term relief of lower back pain. Further research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Perineal discomfort after childbirth (lavender added to bath):
Lavender has been evaluated as an additive to bathwater to relieve pain in the perineal area (between the vagina and anus) in women following birth. Preliminary poor-quality research reports no benefits. Better research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Quality of life (postpartum):
Early evidence suggests a potential role for lavender aromatherapy, especially in combination with massage or acupressure, in the improvement of measures of quality of life among new mothers. More studies are needed.
Rheumatoid arthritis pain:
Early human studies have found conflicting results on the use of massage with lavender aromatherapy in this condition. There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend lavender aromatherapy for rheumatoid arthritis pain.
Early laboratory and animal studies indicate a potential spasmolytic effect of lavender oil inhalation. However, human evidence is lacking.
In a small clinical trial, essential oils were used in combination with massage to treat childhood atopic eczema. It was found that there was deterioration in the patient's eczema, which may have been due to possible allergic contact dermatitis provoked by the essential oils themselves. More study on the effect of lavender essential oil alone is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.