Lavender is the sweet smelling herb with blue-violet flowers that many of us will associate with our grandmothers and childhood. Its dried flowers are commonly found hanging in closets, or enclosed in little handcrafted pillows to sweeten the smell of laundry.
However, lavender’s benefits extend greatly beyond making clothes smell good. Scientific evidence has suggested aromatherapy performed using lavender essential oil can actually improve the quality of sleep, promote relaxation, and lift the mood of people suffering from sleep disorders. (1)
Studies also imply that massages carried out using lavender essential oil promote good sleep, improve concentration, and reduce anxiety. In one study, people who received a massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive.
The name lavender originates from the Latin root lavare, which means ‘to wash.’ In ancient times, lavender’s purpose was to cleanse both the body and spirit. (2)
The Safety Of Lavender Essential Oil
While there’s plenty of evidence available to support the use of lavender for the short-term treatment of a variety of neurological disorders (3).
The data that’s available suggests that therapy performed with lavender on the short-term is relatively harmless. However, lavender can cause an allergic reaction or skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Since the herb stimulates blood flow to the uterus and pelvic area, some health practitioners say that it’s best to avoid it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
However, it shouldn’t be overlooked that lavender has been around for millennia. Ancient Egyptians actually used is as part of the mummifying process, Roman women used it to wash and protect their clothing, and the French used it to heal burns.
18 Benefits Of Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender has been utilized as an antibacterial, antifungal, carminative, sedative, and antidepressant agent throughout history.
Native to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, Russia, and Africa, the relaxing fragrance experiences from lavender has led to its wide use in aromatherapy to stabilize mood imbalances and gastrointestinal distress, including “nervous stomach.” (4)
Here are some of the main benefits of lavender oil.
1. Anti-Anxiety Lavender Oil
In 2013 the modern world finally caught up with what our ancestors knew from when they very first started to use lavender – that this incredible herb has a truly unique ability to protect against neurological damage, including anxiety.
An evidence-based study published by the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice discovered that supplementing with 80 mg capsules of lavender essential oil alleviates anxiety as well as sleep disturbance and depression. (5)
Another study was done on people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and lavender had amazing results, showing signs of enhanced mood. The results revealed that lavender oil, when used daily, helped decrease feelings of depression by 32.7 percent and dramatically decreased sleep disturbances, as well as moodiness, and improved overall health status in 47 people suffering from PTSD. (6)
2. The Calming Properties of Lavender Oil
One of the most effective uses for essential oils is to treat stress. It can be as easy as inhaling the oil’s scent or receiving a lavender oil massage.
A UK study of psychiatric patients diagnosed with anxiety and depressive disorders found that aromatherapy, combined with massage, reduced anxiety and improved mood over a six-month period of use.
Treating anxiety with essential oils offers quick results. A study conducted by scientists at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Vienna, Germany, discovered the healing compounds in lavender essential oil can be found in the bloodstream in as little as five minutes after skin application (7).
While essential oils can be applied topically, aromatherapy, or the inhaling of essential oils, is the most powerful way to treat anxiety.
3. Lavender Oil as an Antidepressant
It’s lavender’s calming scent that makes it an excellent tool for treating depression. The revitalizing fragrance eliminates nervous exhaustion and restlessness while increasing mental activity.
In fact, a 2012 study took 28 high-risk postpartum women asked them to diffuse lavender at home for 4 weeks. The result? They had a significant reduction of postnatal depression and reduced anxiety disorder after just by inhaling the oil. Best of all, they had minimal side-effects (8).
4. Lavender Essential Oil Treats Chronic Pain
Lavender is, without a doubt, one of the most popular and well-known essential oils for pain relief.
One study found that lavender essential oil used as part of an acupressure treatment helped reduce lower back pain by 39 percent. This treatment also improved walking speed and spine flexion (9).
Another study that was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that applying lavender oil or inhaling it has a pain-relieving effect. Also, massaging lavender essential oil into the abdominal area helps relieve menstrual cramps (10).
Inhaling lavender also had a morphine-like effect for patients recovering from surgery. The study also found lavender was efficient in reducing migraine pain as well as relieving lower back pain and neck pain.
5. Treat Dementia with Lavender Oil
As the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s and related dementias carries feverously on, some research advocates that the use of essential oils and aromatherapy may treat certain symptoms of the disease.
Nonetheless, the effects of aromatherapy are debated in the circumstances of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Sadly, many patients with advanced dementia lose their sense of smell, which may be why research has shown lavender aromatherapy via diffusion has had no effect on agitation in people with dementia. However, topical application has worked brilliantly to diminish aggression in these patients (11).
6. Lavender Oil for Hair Loss
Lavender is useful in the treatment of hair loss, especially for patients who suffer from alopecia – an autoimmune disease where the body rejects its own hair.
The essential oil works to nourish your hair, moisturize your scalp and strands, prevents shedding, improves the blood circulation on your scalp (this is what aids with hair growth) and has powerful antiseptic qualities which can treat dry scalp, fungi, bacteria, and other microbes.
A Scottish study reported more than 40% of alopecia patients reported an increase in hair growth after applying thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood essential oils in a carrier oil to their scalp daily for 7 months. For that reason, you can use lavender oil as a natural precautionary measure against hair loss. (12)
7. Lavender Essential Oil Improves Sleep
Most of us at some point have probably had some lavender put under our pillow to help us sleep. This age-old folk remedy has lasted throughout the centuries because it really does work.
Lavender essential oil encourages sleep, making it a common recommendation for the alternative treatment of insomnia.
Frequent studies on elderly patients have revealed an increase in their sleep regularity when the sleep medication that they normally take is replaced with some lavender essential oil on their pillow. The lavender essential oil has such a relaxing impact on people that it can often replace almost any sleep medication. (13)
8. Lavender Essential Oil Treats Burns
If you burn yourself severely, you can destroy all layers of skin and even damage muscles and underlying fat. While severe burns need immediate medical attention, using lavender essential oil can help you with wound healing and pain management.
For minor burns from cooking or ironing, cover the burned area liberally with undiluted lavender oil. Reapply as needed. The lavender oil removes the sting and heat from the burn and can help prevent blistering.
9. Repel Bugs With Lavender
While we may adore the smell of lavender, bugs, on the other hand, can’t handle it. This is excellent news if you’re looking for a natural way to keep the little critters off your skin. In fact, in the past, people used lavender on clothes and linens from moths and other insects.
The smell of lavender essential oil is potent for many types of bugs, like mosquitoes, midges, and moths. Before going outside, apply some the lavender oil onto your exposed skin to avoid irritating bites.
However, if you do find yourself bitten by one of those bugs, lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that will reduce bug-related irritation and pain. It will also stop the spread of infection if used on bleeding bites. (14)
10. Acne-Fighting Lavender Oil
Dermatologists and aromatherapists cite lavender essential oil as one of the most beneficial oils in the treatment of acne. Acne, of course, is a painful, embarrassing condition primarily affecting young people going through puberty. However, acne can also afflict adults.
Lavender essential oil inhibits the bacteria which cause the initial infection, helps to control some of the over-excretion of sebum, and can diminish the signs of scarring once the acne has begun to heal (15).
Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil and gently apply to a clean face morning and night. If you’ve never used the oil before, apply a small amount to the inside of your wrist to test for potential allergies or sensitivity before applying to your face.
11. Lavender Essential Oil Promotes Circulation
While it’s one of the lesser known benefits of lavender essential oil, research suggests aromatherapy using lavender oil has valuable effects on blood circulation. It also lowers blood pressure (16).
12. Antibacterial and Antiviral Lavender
Lavender essential oil has excellent antibacterial and antiviral properties. Actually, duringWorld War I, nurses used lavender as an antibacterial.
When you apply it to scrapes, bruises, and stings, it can significantly reduce healing time. As it’s a relatively mild oil, it does not need a carrier oil.
A common way of applying lavender is directly on the skin. Recent studies have also shown that lavender oil is effective in killing both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. (17)
13. Lavender Oil and the Respiratory System
The next time you have a cough, cold or flu reach for the lavender. Lavender essential oil is commonly used for a variety of respiratory problems including throat infections, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis.
Normally diffused as a vapor, you can also apply lavender oil to the skin of the neck, chest, and back.
Lavender essential oil works to loosen up the phlegm and relieve the congestion associated with respiratory conditions. It speeds up the recovery process and helps the body naturally eliminate phlegm and other unwanted material.
14. Lavender Oil Balances Hormones
Lavender oil is a must for women. Its extensive list of beneficial properties includes helping balance hormones, providing pain relief, easing menstrual cramps, as well as improving sign of hormonal imbalance such as increased feelings of stress and depression, emotional imbalance, stomach aches, and headaches (18).
To lessen symptoms, all you need to do is put a drop of the oil on your palms, rub them together, and inhale for 10 minutes. Feel free to consume lavender lemonade or tea for an internal boost.
15. Lavender for Dental Care
In a study on the oral health of hospice patients with terminal cancer, lavender essential oil, when mixed with geranium, tea tree, and peppermint, significantly improved comfort and objective oral state. The mixture, given twice daily for a week, also reduced the number of numbers of colonizing Candida albican yeast (19). Additionally, it can help heal blood blisters.
Lavender essential oil is an excellent oil to use on babies who are teething. All you need to do is mix a drop with a tablespoon of coconut oil then gently rub it onto your baby’s gums. Of course, consult your healthcare practitioner before giving any essential oil to your baby or child. For your own body, feel free to use lavender essential oil as an effective antimicrobial mouthwash. Simply dilute in a 1 to 4 ratio with coconut oil and use the mixture for oil pulling.
16. Antifungal Lavender
Although it’s known that lavender essential oil best for its use in massage and aromatherapy, there’s a possibility it could be a weapon in the fight against antifungal-resistant infections too.
The essential oil shows a powerful effect against fungi responsible for common skin and nail infections. Scientists tested lavender oil and found it to be lethal to a range of skin-pathogenic strains known as dermatophytes, as well as various species of Candida. Dermatophytes cause infections of the skin, hair, and nails. On the other hand, candida species can cause mucocutaneous candidosis, which is also known as thrush (20).
The breakthrough may not only help to treat fungal infections that commonly attack people with weak immune systems, like chemotherapy patients, but it also may provide an answer about what to do about the rise of so-called super germs.
17. Lavender Essential Oil Treat Headaches
Lavender regulates serotonin levels to minimize pain in the nervous system, which can lead to migraine attacks (21).
In a 2012 study published in European Neurology, forty-seven participants took part in a placebo-controlled clinical trial. The treatment group inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes during a migraine headache. The researchers asked patients to record their headache severity and associated symptoms in 30-minute intervals for two hours.
The difference between the control and treatment groups was statistically significant. From the 129 headache cases in the treatment group, 92 responded fully or at least partially positive to lavender oil inhalation. In contrast, in the control group, 32 out of 68 recorded that headache attacks responded to the placebo (22)
18. Improve Eczema with Lavender
If you are one of the many people who suffer from eczema, lavender essential oil can be a godsend.
As an alternative to conventional treatments that only suppress symptoms, lavender oil can be used as an all-around restorative agent. In fact, lavender essential oil heals the skin from the inside out, gently easing irritation and working to promote a healthy balance of the skin.
Plus, lavender works against stress– a key contributor to eczema flare-ups.
How will you use lavender essential oil next?