(Last edited: Thursday, 24 September 2015, 6:01 PM)

lavender illustrationAlso Known As:

Common Lavender, English Lavender, French Lavender, Garden Lavender.


Scientific Name:

Lavandula angustifolia, synonyms Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula vera, Lavandula spica; Lavandula dentata; Lavandula latifolia; Lavandula pubescens; Lavandula stoechas.

Family: Lamiaceae/Labiatae.


People Use This For:

Orally, lavender is used for restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, depression, meteorism (abdominal swelling from gas in the intestinal or peritoneal cavity), and loss of appetite. Lavender is also used orally for flatulence, upset stomach, giddiness, migraine headaches, toothaches, sprains, neuralgia, rheumatism, acne, sores, nausea, vomiting, to promote menstruation, and to treat cancer.


Topically, lavender is used for alopecia areata, pain, and in baths for circulation disorders, and improving psychological well-being. It is also used topically as a mosquito repellent and insect repellent.


By inhalation, lavender is used as aromatherapy for insomnia, pain, and agitation related to dementia.


In foods and beverages, lavender is used as a flavour component.


In manufacturing, lavender is utilized in pharmaceutical products and as a fragrance ingredient in soaps and cosmetics. Lavender is also used as an insect repellent.



No concerns regarding safety when used orally in amounts commonly found in foods. Lavender has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status for food use in the US.(31). No concerns regarding safety when used orally and appropriately, (32) when used topically and appropriately. Lavender oil has been used safely for up to 7 months in adults.(33) when the essential oil is inhaled as a part of aromatherapy. (34,35,36,37)


Children: Possibly Unsafe when applied topically. Anecdotal reports suggest that applying topical products containing lavender oil to prepubertal boys can result in gynecomastia in some cases.(38)

Products with a higher concentration of lavender oil and more frequent applications might be more likely to result in gynecomastia.


Pregnancy and Lactation: Insufficient reliable information available; avoid using.




Alopecia areata. There is some evidence that applying lavender oil in combination with the essential oils from thyme, rosemary,and cedarwood might improve hair growth by as much as 44% after 7 months of treatment.(33)


Agitation. Evidence regarding the efficacy of lavender aromatherapy for agitation is conflicting. In one preliminary clinical study, nightly use of lavender oil in a bedside diffuser for 3 weeks reduced agitation scores in patients with various types of dementia.(36)

However, continuous use of lavender oil on a pad attached to a patient's shirt had no effect in a small group of patients with advanced dementia. (35)

Depression. In mild to moderate depression, tincture of lavender appears to be slightly less effective than imipramine (Tofranil). Lavender might have some additive antidepressant effect with imipramine.


Insomnia. Preliminary clinical research suggests using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight might help some people with mild insomnia.(37)

Psychological well-being. Preliminary clinical research suggests that adding 3 mL of a 20% lavender oil and 80% grapeseed oil mixture to daily baths produces modest improvements in mood, compared with baths containing grapeseed oil alone. (39) More evidence is needed to rate lavender for these uses.


Mechanism of Action:

The applicable parts of lavender are the flowers, leaves, and oil. Lavender contains several potential active constituents including cineole from the essential oil and borneol and camphor from the leaves. (40)

The oil also contains linalool, linalyl acetate, and carophyllene epoxide.(36)

Lavender preparations and the isolated constituents have several pharmacological effects in vitro and in animals. However, the effects in humans are less well known. Lavender seems to induce relaxation and sedation. Lavender decreases EEG potentials and decreases alertness in humans.(41)

There is some evidence that lavender has spasmolytic effects on smooth muscle (42)

and might have analgesic effects.(34)

There is also some evidence from animal models that lavender might have anticonvulsant effects and possibly potentiate chloral hydrate and pentobarbital effects.(41)

In animal models, lavender leaf extract and essential oils seem to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. (40)

Lavender oil has modest estrogenic effects and antiandrogenic effects in vitro.(38)

Lavender might also have stimulant effects on hair growth; (33) however, the mechanism of this effect is not known.


Adverse Reactions:

Tincture of lavender may cause headache.(32)


Interactions with Herbs & Supplements:

None known.


Interactions with Drugs:

May enhance the effects of sedative herbs. Advise patients th at lower than usual dose may be necessary. Refer to a Medical Adviser.


Interactions with Foods:

None known.


Interactions with Lab Tests:

None reported.


Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:

None reported.



Dr Clare’s Blends: Dose 455mgs per day. 1.5mls 1:3 Tincture.

Oral: For depression, tincture of lavender (1:5 in 50% alcohol) 60 drops per day has been used for 4 weeks.(32)

Topical: For alopecia areata, one study used a combination of essential oils including lavender 3 drops (108mg), rosemary 3 drops (114 mg), thyme 2 drops (88mg), and cedarwood 2 drops (94 mg), all mixed with 3 mL jojoba oil and 20 mL grapeseed oil. Each night, the mixture is massaged in

to the scalp for 2 minutes with a warm towel placed around the head to increase absorption.(33)


For agitation associated with dementia, lavender aromatherapy has been used by applying lavender oil to a pad attached to clothingor placed in a bedside diffuser.


For insomnia, lavender aromatherapy has been used by placing lavender oil in a vaporizer. (37)

For general psychological well-bei9ng, adding 3 mL of a mixture of lavender oil 20% and grapeseed oil

80% in bath water has been used.(39)


Specific References: LAVENDER

31. FDA. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Premarket Approval, EAFUS: A food additive database. Available at:

32. Akhondzadeh S, Kashani L, Fotouhi A, et al. Comparison of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. tincture and imipramine in the treatment of mild tomoderate depression: a double-blind, randomized trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2003;27:123-7

33. Hay IC, Jamieson M, Ormerod AD. Randomized trial

of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata. Arch Dermatol 1998;134:1349-52.
34. Buckle J. Use of aromatherapy as a complementary treatment for chronic pain. Altern Ther Health Med 1999;5:42-51.
35. Lynn A, Hovanec L, Brandt J. A Controlled Trial of Aromatherapy for Agitation in Nursing Home Patients with Dementia. J Alt Comp Med 2004;431-7.
36. Lin PW, Chan W, Ng BF, Lam LC. Efficacy of aromatherapy (Lavandula angustifolia) as an intervention for agitated behaviours in Chinese older persons with dementia: a cross-over randomized trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;22:405-10.
37. Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. J Altern Complement Med 2005;11:631-7. 38. Henley DV, Lipson N, Korach KS, Bloch CA. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. N Eng J Med 2007;356:479-85.
39. Morris N. The effects of lavender (Lavendula angustifolium) baths on psychological well-being: two exploratory randomised control trials. Complement Ther Med 2002;10:223-8.
40. Hajhashemi V, Ghannadi A, Sharif B. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the leaf extracts and essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. J Ethnopharmacol 2003;89:67-71.
41. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. Terry C. Telger, transl. 3rd ed. Berlin, GER: Springer, 1998
42. The Review of Natural Products by Facts and Comparisons. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Co., 1999.