Lavender is a purple flower with a pleasant scent. It can be used as an oil and massaged into the skin or diffused for aromatherapy. Lavender has been used to ease anxiety and stress. Lavender can also be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. It can also be made into a tea.
There are no advised doses for lavender.
What Research Shows
May Be Effective
Not Enough Data to Assess
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
It is likely safe to use lavender on the skin, inhale it as aromatherapy, or take it orally in small doses for a short time, but stomach upset and skin irritation may happen.H1 Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period or by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
A. Agitated Behavior in Older Adults
A1. Watson K, Hatcher D, et al. A randomised controlled trial of Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) and Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) essential oils for the treatment of agitated behaviour in older people with and without dementia. Complement Ther Med. 2019 Feb;42:366-373.
B1. Perry R, Terry R, et al. Is lavender an anxiolytic drug? A systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Phytomedicine. 2012 Jun 15;19(8-9):825-835.
B2. Generoso MB, Soares A, et al. Lavender Oil Preparation (Silexan) for Treating Anxiety” An Updated Meta-Analysis. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2017;37(1):115-117.
B3. Barić H, Đorđević V, et al. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Adv Ther. 2018 Mar;35(3):261-288.
B4. Yeung KS, Hernandez M, et al. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho-oncologic relevance. Phytother Res. 2018 May;32(5):865-891.
C1. Forrester LT, Maayan N, et al. Aromatherapy for dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(2):CD003150.
D1. Dwyer AV, Whitten DL, et al. Herbal medicines, other than St. John’s Wort, in the treatment of depression: a systematic review. Altern Med Rev. 2011;16(1):40-49.
D2. Yeung KS, Hernandez M, et al. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho-oncologic relevance. Phytother Res. 2018 May;32(5):865-891.
E. Knee Osteoarthritis
E1. Nasiri A, Mahmodi MA, et al. Effect of aromatherapy massage with lavender essential oil on pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2016;25:75-80.
F. Low Back Pain
F1. Gagnier JJ, Oltean H, et al. Herbal Medicine for Low Back Pain: A Cochrane Review. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Jan;41(2):116-133.
G. Menstrual Pain
G1. Raisi Dehkordi Z, Hosseini Baharanchi FS, et al. Effect of lavender inhalation on the symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea and the amount of menstrual bleeding: A randomized clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2014;22(2):212-219.
H1. Posadzki P, Alotaibi A, Ernst E. Adverse effects of aromatherapy: a systematic review of case reports and case series. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2012 Jan 1;24(3):147-61. doi: 10.3233/JRS-2012-0568. Review. PubMed PMID: 22936057.
I. Sleep Disturbances
I1. Lillehei AS, Halcon LL. A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Jun;20(6):441-451.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/22/2020
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