Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Miller)

background

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, Russia, and Africa. It has been used in cosmetics and medicine 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 is the most common type of lavender used.
Many people find lavender aromatherapy to be relaxing. Overall, evidence suggests that lavender reduces anxiety, although additional research is needed to draw firm conclusions.
Lavender aromatherapy is also used to help with sleep, decrease pain, and mental performance among other uses. However, there is insufficient evidence to support lavender's effectiveness.
Research suggests that perillyl alcohol, an ingredient in lavender, may be safe and well-tolerated when used for cancer.

Related Terms

Camphene, camphor, caryophyllene, carophyllene epoxide, cineole, common lavender, dipentene, English lavender, garden lavender, Lavandula angustifolia Miller, Lavandula burnamii, Lavandula dentate, Lavandula dhofarensis, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula stoechas, lavandulol, limonene, linalool, linalyl acetate, ocimene, perillyl alcohol, pink lavender, POH, silexan, Solum Oil, Solum Ol (German), terpinene, true lavender, white lavender.

evidence table

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.
 
Agitated behavior (Grade: C)
Early research in people with severe dementia has found that lavender aromatherapy or the scent of lavender oil may help decrease agitated behavior. Further well-designed study is needed in this area before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Antibacterial (Grade: C)
Although not well studied in humans, lavender oil may have antibacterial activity. Further study is needed to draw conclusions.
Anxiety (Grade: C)
Lavender aromatherapy is traditionally used for relaxation. Evidence regarding the effectiveness of lavender in anxiety is mixed. Further research is needed before a strong conclusion can be made.
Canker sores (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that lavender oil may be effective for canker sores. Further study is required to provide firm conclusions.
Cancer (perillyl alcohol) (Grade: C)
Perillyl alcohol (POH), a chemical in lavender, has been studied in some types of cancer. However, its effectiveness is unclear. Further study is needed.
Cardiovascular disease risk (Grade: C)
Research on the use of lavender oil in decreasing heart disease risk is limited and its benefits are unclear. Further research is needed.
Colic (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that aromatherapy massage with lavender oil reduces colic in infants. Further research is required in order to draw conclusions.
Constipation (Grade: C)
Early study suggests that massage with blended essential oils (including lavender) may ease constipation. Research of lavender oil alone is necessary to draw conclusions.
Dementia (Grade: C)
Early research on lavender aromatherapy for agitation and behavior in people with Alzheimer's dementia yielded conflicting results. Further well-designed studies are needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Dental hygiene (Grade: C)
The use of blended essential oils containing lavender is suggested to improve mouth health and hygiene. Future study of lavender alone is required to form conclusions.
Depression (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that lavender may be helpful in depression. Additional research is necessary before a firm conclusion may be drawn.
Ear pain (Grade: C)
Limited research showed that a naturopathic eardrop containing lavender helped to stop ear pain. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Eczema (inflammatory skin condition) (Grade: C)
In early study, lavender with other essential oils was used in combination with massage to treat childhood eczema. The eczema worsened, possibly due to an allergic reaction. More study on the effect of lavender essential oil alone is needed before firm conclusions may be made.
Fall prevention (Grade: C)
Early study suggests possible benefits of lavender aromatherapy for preventing falls in elderly nursing home residents. Further research is needed in order to draw conclusions.
Hair loss (Grade: C)
Early research has shown that people who massage essential oils of thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood into their scalps daily had an improvement in hair loss. Research of lavender alone is needed before making a conclusion.
Head lice (Grade: C)
Lavender oil with tea tree oil was effective for eliminating head lice in children. Research of lavender alone is required to form a firm conclusion about its effectiveness.
High blood pressure (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that a blend of essential oils including lavender may lower blood pressure. Further studies are needed with lavender oil alone to determine the effects of lavender on blood pressure.
Hypnotic/sleep aid (aromatherapy) (Grade: C)
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.
Mental performance (Grade: C)
The effect of lavender aromatherapy for mental performance is unclear. Further well-designed research is needed to draw conclusions.
Migraine (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that breathing lavender aroma may reduce migraine pain. Further trials are necessary to form conclusions.
Overall well being (Grade: C)
Early evidence has shown that lavender oil in combination with grape seed oil used in a bath may help to improve overall well-being, and decrease anger and frustration. Lavender oil aromatherapy has also been shown to improve mood. Further well-designed research is needed to confirm these results.
Pain (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that pain may be reduced with lavender aromatherapy. 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 may be drawn.
Painful menstruation (Grade: C)
Early research suggests possible benefits with use of lavender essential oil in managing menstrual pain. Further higher quality studies are necessary to form conclusions.
Perineal discomfort after childbirth (Grade: C)
Lavender used in bathwater has been evaluated for relieving pain in the perineal area (between the vagina and anus) in women after childbirth. Early research reports unclear results. Better research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Postpartum care (care after childbirth) (Grade: C)
Early evidence suggests a potential role for lavender aromatherapy, especially in combination with massage, for improving quality of life in new mothers. More studies are needed.
Rheumatoid arthritis pain (Grade: C)
Early studies have found conflicting results for the use of lavender aromatherapy in combination with other therapies for pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Further research is needed to draw conclusions.
Sleep (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that lavender aromatherapy may improve sleep quality. More trials are necessary to assess the effects of lavender for sleep.
Spasmolytic (muscle relaxant) (Grade: C)
Although not well studied in humans, lavender oil inhalation may have a spasmolytic effect, or stopping muscle spasms. Further research is necessary to draw a conclusion.
Stress (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that inhalation of lavender oil reduces stress. Further study is required in order to make firm conclusions.
Surgery (Grade: C)
Early research showed that treatment with lavender improved skin redness after surgery. Further research is required to form conclusions.