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Lavender

Lavender is a family of plants known for its anxiety-reducing properties.

Our evidence-based analysis on lavender features 176 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by .
Reviewed by
Examine.com Team
Last Updated:
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Summary of Lavender

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Lavandula, or lavender, is a genus of plants used for essential oil and aromatherapy. Lavender supplementation can temporarily alleviate anxiety.

Though lavender does not have a sedative effect, lavender aromatherapy can improve sleep quality, as well as reduce insomnia. Some evidence suggests lavender can increase slow-wave sleep patterns.

Most studies use the lavender oil brand Silexan. There is some evidence to suggest lavender may offer benefits for people suffering from dementia, but it is very preliminary and much more research is needed.

Topical application of lavender can result in contact dermatitis, which is characterized by red and itchy skin.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

To supplement lavender, take 80 – 160 mg of a supplement containing 25 – 46% linalool.

Accurate dosing is difficult to determine during aromatherapy, but most studies use at least 30 minutes in a well-ventilated room.

Topical application of lavender is usually done through a lavender oil massage. Topical lavender oil application is not recommended due to the possibility of skin agitation and damage.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects lavender has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-c Notable Very High See all 5 studies
There appears to be a notable decreased in symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and with oral ingestion of lavender supplements; aromatherapy seems effective and implicated in reducing state anxiety (acute, situation based, anxiety), but has less robust evidence to support it. One study suggesting oral supplementation was comparable to lorazepam
grade-c Minor - See study
A reduction in blood pressure is noted alongside reduced autonomic nervous system activation and increased relaxation; this is likely to not affect the body over the long term
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in body temperature is seen with lavender ingestion
grade-c Minor - See study
A reduction in canker sore size and the pain associated with them are observed with topical lavender application
grade-c Minor - See study
Lavender as aromatherapy is able to reduce pain associated with menstruation
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
A decrease in heart rate has been noted at rest over a long period of time (12 weeks in insomniacs) and acutely; both studies have used aromatherapy
grade-c Minor - See study
Acute inhalation of lavender at the onset of a migraine is associated with less pain symptoms than placebo scent
grade-c Minor Very High See all 3 studies
An increase in the magnitude of self-reported 'relaxation' is noted with lavender aromatherapy more than placebo
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in sedation has been noted with aromatherapy, but not with oral usage of lavender supplements
grade-c Minor Very High See all 7 studies
Improvements in sleep quality have been noted in insomniacs and persons with generalized anxiety disorder mostly, with some limited evidence suggesting this may benefit generally healthy persons. Both oral supplements and aromatherapy are implicated in these benefits, but overall the quality of the studies is somewhat less than desirable. The parameters that see benefit are less waking up during the night and reduction in insomniac symptoms
grade-c - - See study
Despite the increase in 'relaxation', there does not appear to be an increase in calmness
grade-c - - See study
No significant influences on stress
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in cortisol has been noted acutely with aromatherapy
grade-d Minor - See study
Depression as a side effect of anxiety appears to be reduced
grade-d Minor - See study
Lavender aromatherapy has once been noted to reduce heart rate variability
grade-d Minor - See study
Reduction in infantile colic and improvements in mother-child interaction has been noted with adding the aroma of lavender to a bathing period
grade-d Minor - See study
May be effective in reducing insomnia when measured
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in restlessness has been noted, but may be from symptom reduction of neurasthenia
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in well being has been noted with lavender aromatherapy, possible secondary to the relaxing effects
grade-d Minor - See study
Both anxiety and restlessness associated with neurasthenia have once been noted to be beneficially influenced with lavender

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Lavender

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Things to Note

Primary Function:

Goes Well With

  • Itself (Linalool from Lavender requires Linalyl acetate to be anxiolytic, with isolated Linalool possibly confering no benefit to anxiety)

  • Melissa officinalis in regards to benzodiazepine binding and sedation, otherwise Lavender does not bind to benzodiazepine binding sites

  • Currently one study suggests no interaction with some types of birth control (see full summary)

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Click here to see all 176 references.