How Lavender Is Used for Social Anxiety

A bunch of lavender on a wooden tabletop

SVGiles / Getty Images

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

You may have wondered how lavender is used for social anxiety. But first, just what is lavender? Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), also known as English or garden lavender, is an herb native to the Mediterranean region.

Historically, lavender was used to mummify bodies in Egypt, in baths in Greece and Rome, and for antiseptic and mental health purposes.

Today, lavender is used as a traditional or complementary remedy for relaxation, to alleviate insomnia, anxiety, and depression, as well as for physical ailments such as stomach upset and headaches.

Research on the Benefits of Lavender

No scientific studies have specifically examined the benefits lavender use for social anxiety disorder (SAD).

In a 2000 systematic review of aromatherapy studies, Cook and Ernst reported that in general, aromatherapy is helpful in reducing anxiety and stress in the short-term. A 2012 review study also showed some evidence of the usefulness of lavender taken orally for anxiety.

More research is needed to support the used of lavender for the treatment of SAD.


Lavender is usually used in the form of an essential oil as part of aromatherapy. You can inhale the scent, apply it to the skin, or perhaps the most effective way, is adding three to five drops of the essential oil to an ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser. Dried lavender can also be used to make a tea or liquid extract. Lavender may also be taken in pill form.

Lavender tea can be made by steeping 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried leaves for 15 minutes in a cup of boiling water. In liquid extract form, no more than 60 drops of lavender should be taken in a day. Before ingesting lavender in liquid form, you should read the product label and discuss the dose with a qualified health care provider.

Who Shouldn’t Use It

There is not enough scientific evidence to safely recommend lavender for children younger than 18 years.

Lavender taken by mouth has the potential to increase the risk of bleeding. If you suffer from a bleeding disorder, or are taking medication that may increase bleeding, use caution when taking lavender.

Medication Interactions

Lavender has the potential to increase the drowsiness caused by other treatments for SAD, such as Xanax (and other benzodiazepines) and St. John's Wort (and other herbal supplements).

The same effects may be seen with barbiturates, narcotics, seizure medications, and alcohol. Lavender may also increase the toxicity of antidepressant medications and herbs and supplements taken for depression.

When taken with drugs such as aspirin, warfarin, ibuprofen, and naproxen lavender may increase the risk of bleeding. Check the package insert and speak with a healthcare professional or pharmacist about possible interactions.

Side Effects

Side effects are rare but may include the following:

  • A mild rash
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Changes in skin pigmentation
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Confusion (after ingesting large doses of lavender or perillyl alcohol, which is derived from lavender)

Associated Risks

Caution should be used when driving or operating heavy machinery if lavender is combined with medications causing drowsiness. Lavender essential oil can be poisonous if taken by mouth.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements. Most herbs and supplements are not thoroughly tested, and there is no guarantee regarding the ingredients or safety of the products.

Use of lavender over an extended period of time should be supervised by a qualified healthcare professional.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Lavender.

  2. Cooke B, Ernst E. Aromatherapy: a systematic reviewBr J Gen Pract. 2000;50(455):493-496.

  3. Perry R, Terry R, Watson LK, Ernst E. Is lavender an anxiolytic drug? A systematic review of randomised clinical trialsPhytomedicine. 2012;19(8-9):825-835. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2012.02.013

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."