Stress Management Management Techniques Relaxation The Health Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil This soothing oil can calm anxiety and improve sleep By Cathy Wong Updated on July 22, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Caitilin Kelly, MD Medically reviewed by Caitilin Kelly, MD Caitilin Kelly, MD, is a clinical physician at Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital and is board-certified in internal medicine. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Health Benefits Side Effects Dosage and Preparation What to Look For Common Questions Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular and versatile essential oils used in aromatherapy. Distilled from the plant Lavandula angustifolia, the oil promotes relaxation and believed to treat anxiety, fungal infections, allergies, depression, insomnia, eczema, nausea, and menstrual cramps. In essential oil practices, lavender is a multipurpose oil. It is purported to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, hypotensive, and sedative effects. Verywell / Gary Ferster Health Benefits Lavender essential oil and its properties have been widely studied. Here's a look at the research. Anxiety While there's currently a lack of large-scale clinical trials testing lavender's effects on people with anxiety, a number of studies show that the oil may offer some anti-anxiety benefits. Several studies have tested lavender's anxiety-reducing effects in specific populations. For example, a study published in Physiology & Behavior in 2005 focused on 200 people awaiting dental treatment and found that breathing in the scent of lavender both lessened anxiety and improved mood. In addition, a pilot study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2012 indicates that lavender-essential-oil-based aromatherapy may help soothe anxiety in high-risk postpartum women. In an experiment involving 28 women who had given birth in the previous 18 months, researchers found that four weeks of twice-weekly, 15-minute-long aromatherapy sessions helped alleviate depression in addition to lowering anxiety levels. There's also some evidence that ingesting lavender oil may help relieve anxiety. In a report published in Phytomedicine in 2012, for instance, scientists analyzed 15 previously published clinical trials and concluded that dietary supplements containing lavender oil may have some therapeutic effects on patients struggling with anxiety and/or stress. A more recent review of the literature found 5 studies (2010, 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016) showed benefits ins participants with moderate to severe anxiety. Insomnia Several studies have shown lavender essential oil may help promote sleep and fight insomnia. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found a combination of sleep hygiene techniques and lavender essential oil therapy helped college students get a better night's sleep than sleep hygiene alone. The study of 79 students with self-reported sleep problems also found inhaling lavender at bedtime improved daytime energy and vibrancy. A 2018 study published in Holistic Nursing Practice confirms lavender's effect on sleep. In this study of 30 residents of a nursing home, lavender aromatherapy was found to improve sleep onset, quality, and duration in an elderly population. Essential Oils That May Help With ADHD Symptoms Possible Side Effects Lavender essential oil may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals. If you experience nausea, vomiting, or a headache after using lavender, discontinue use immediately. Because consuming lavender essential oil can have toxic effects, this remedy should not be ingested unless under the supervision of a medical professional. Dosage and Preparation There is no recommended daily allowance for lavender essential oil. According to the principles of aromatherapy, breathing in the scent of lavender essential oil or applying lavender essential oil to the skin transmits messages to the limbic system, a brain region known to influence the nervous system and help regulate emotion. One popular approach involves combining lavender oil with a carrier oil (such as jojoba or sweet almond). Once blended with a carrier oil, lavender essential oil can be massaged into your skin or added to your bath. You can also sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil onto a cloth or tissue and inhale its aroma, or add the oil to an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer. What to Look For Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA and do not have to meet any purity standards. When purchasing essential oils, look for a supplier who either distills their own material or deals directly with reputable distillers, and uses gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to analyze the quality of the product. When buying pure lavender essential oil, check the label for its Latin name, Lavandula angustifolia. No other oils or ingredients should be listed. If you see another oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, or sweet almond oil, the lavender is diluted and should not be used in a diffuser. Essential oils should be packaged in a dark amber or cobalt bottle and stored out of sunlight. Other Questions Can lavender essential oil treat allergies? Many essential oil proponents recommend using a combination of lavender, lemon, and peppermint oil to relieve allergy symptoms, and claim that lavender is a natural antihistamine. A 1999 study printed in the J Pharm Pharmaceuticals did find that lavender oil inhibits immediate type allergic reactions in mice and rats. Will adding lavender oil to my mascara make my lashes grow faster? Adding lavender oil to mascara is purported to help lashes grow thicker and faster. The theory behind this is that tiny mites live on and feast on eyelashes inhibiting growth, and using lavender to kill the mites will allow lashes to grow faster. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Is lavender essential oil a cure for baldness? A few studies over the years have suggested that lavender oil may reverse hair loss. A 2016 study on mice showed that a diluted topically applied lavender essential oil did lead to dramatic hair growth. An earlier study (1998) looked at people with alopecia areata showed improvement in hair growth with a topically applied combination of lavender, thyme, rosemary and cedarwood. A Word From Verywell While lavender may help soothe mild anxiety, it should not be used in place of professional mental health treatment for any type of anxiety disorder. If you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety such as constant worrying, fatigue, insomnia, and rapid heartbeat, make sure to consult your primary care provider rather than self-treating your anxiety with lavender. 6 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. Silva GL, Luft C, Lunardelli A, et al. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2015;87(2 Suppl):1397-1408. doi:10.1590/0001-3765201520150056 Lehrner J, Marwinski G, Lehr S, Johren P, Deecke L. Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiol Behav. 2005;86(1-2):92-95. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2005.06.031 Conrad P, Adams C. The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high-risk postpartum woman — a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2012;18(3):164-168. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.05.002 Perry R, Terry R, Watson LK, Ernst E. Is lavender an anxiolytic drug? A systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Phytomedicine. 2012;19(8-9):825-835. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2012.02.013 Smith Lillehei A, Halcón LL, Savik K, Reis R. Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2015;21(7):430-438. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0327 Faydalı S, Çetinkaya F. The Effect of Aromatherapy on Sleep Quality of Elderly People Residing in a Nursing Home. Holist Nurs Pract. 2018;32(1):8-16. doi:10.1097/HNP.0000000000000244 Additional Reading NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Lavender. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/lavender/ataglance.htm Setzer WN. Essential oils and anxiolytic aromatherapy. Nat Prod Commun. 2009;4(9):1305-16. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.