More subtle than sight, your sense of smell is no less powerful in evoking a physiological response. The scent of lavender is housed in its oil and is recognized clinically as one of the most evocative herbs. Lavender oil has many uses for us, many of which aren’t obvious.
In fact, thousands of studies have been conducted on the effects of this versatile herb to the human condition. Its fragrance was only a starting point: topical application provides its own set of benefits.
An easy-to-grow indoor plant, this lovely aromatic herb can be appreciated for its beauty, its smell, its flavor, and its countless ways of promoting human health. From calming anxiety to reversing hair loss, find the most potent lavender oil uses below.
21 Household Lavender Oil Uses
Lavender oil uses: for topical and aromatic use only, unless cooked in other foods.
While not hazardous, ingesting straight lavender oil can cause irritation, stomach upset, and other unpleasant conditions. In addition, it may disturb gut bacteria balance.
The Alliance of International Aromatherapists discourages internal therapeutic use of any essential oil unless recommended by a trained healthcare practitioner. (1)
1. Lavender Oil for Anxiety
Perhaps the best-known lavender oil uses is to induce calm. In 2012, the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand published a study on the effects of inhaling lavender oil on the central nervous system and resulting emotional states of twenty subjects.
“Lavender oil caused significant decreases of blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, which indicated a decrease of autonomic arousal. In terms of mood responses, the subjects in the lavender oil group categorized themselves as more active, fresher relaxed [sic] than subjects just inhaling base oil. Compared with base oil, lavender oil increased the power of theta (4-8 Hz) and alpha (8-13 Hz) brain activities. The topographic map showed obviously more scattering power in alpha range waves particularly in bilateral temporal and central area. The findings provided evidence the relaxing effect of inhaling lavender oil.” (2)
Here are some handy ways to use lavender oil to quickly reduce anxiety:
- Keep a spritzer of water with a few drops of lavender essential to spray on your face during the day.
- You can also spritz the mixture on your bedsheets to create your own personal oasis.
- If you don’t have a spritzer, rub 2-3 drops of lavender oil in your cupped palms, and breathe it in to draw the scent all the way into your amygdala gland (the emotional warehouse of your brain. Then, rub on the feet, temples, wrists (or anywhere) for an immediate calming effect on the body. If you are sensitive to the herb, mix a few drops of lavender oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil and apply the mixture to your skin.
- Alternatively, combine ½ teaspoon of dried lavender with ½ teaspoon of dried chamomile and place in a strainer. Add to a cup of boiling water and steep for up to 10 minutes. Drink in a nice, calm space and breathe deeply as you do so.
2. Hair Growth
Losing one’s hair can be an emotionally-charged predicament. As a result, all kinds of remedies and treatments have been developed to retard loss, stimulate new hair growth, and surgically implant hair. The pharmaceutical minoxidil (trade name: Rogaine) is a popular topical treatment for thinning hair. However, Rogaine’s label warns to contact a poison control center if it is swallowed and not to use in combination with heart medication. The problem with this—and every other drug—is its inherent potential side effects.
- Scalp redness, inflammation, irritation, burning, and itching
- Scalp acne
- Facial hair growth
- Facial swelling
- Heart arrhythmia
- Chest pain
- Tingling, numbness, or swelling in extremities
- Blurred vision
- Increased hair loss
The label also mentions (in small print) that hair re-growth in clinical trials has not lasted longer than forty-eight weeks and can take up to sixteen weeks to start. (3) So with a year’s application of minoxidil, the most you can expect is a few months of thicker hair.
Lavender oil, on the other hand, has been shown to increase the number of hair follicles, increase follicle depth, and promote hair growth in as little as four weeks. In a 2016 study, lavender oil was tested against a control and minoxidil. The result: it performed just as well as minoxidil in growing hair. Of particular note in the study is that spleen weights were significantly greater in mice treated with minoxidil, with increased incidences of organ damage. (4)
Using lavender oil for hair loss:
Lavender oil increases circulation, promotes new hair growth and helps to balance natural oil production of the scalp. Add lavender oil to olive, coconut, or jojoba oil and use daily as part of a stimulating scalp massage to help regrow hair and hydrate your follicles.
3. Headache Relief
When you’ve got one, all you can think of is how to get rid of it. A headache can be caused by many factors. Migraines are the worst, whatever the cause, in their severity and impact. Lavender, on the other hand, is a known anti-spasmodic and analgesic. In fact, inhaling lavender essential oil for just fifteen minutes has been found to significantly reduce the severity of a migraine. (5)
The use of lavender as a prophylactic treatment to prevent a migraine has also been shown effective: during a three-month trial, patients who suffered recurrent migraines reported fewer incidences while undergoing daily lavender therapy. (6)
Very often, headaches accompany anxiety as a physical manifestation of stress. (7) Muscles spasm and tighten when you’re stressed, cutting blood flow and sometimes causing a headache. Since lavender oil is effectively used for anxiety/stress, it also makes sense that it would have a similar relaxing mechanism for headaches.
To use lavender oil for headaches:
- Make a compress of a piece of cause or muslin soaked in icy cold water then sprinkled with a few drops of lavender oil and apply to the forehead. You can also massage a few drops into the forehead, temples, and nape of the neck.
- Set up an essential oil diffuser in your home or office to breathe the pain away.
- Lavender Tea: Use one teaspoon of dried lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) to eight ounces of hot water, then steep covered for 5-7 minutes. Remove the flower and inhale the steam as you drink.
4. Lavender Sleep Aid
Due to its calming effects, lavender is an exceptional sleep aid. Even in people with normal sleep patterns who don’t have trouble falling asleep, lavender promotes deep sleep and makes you feel more refreshed in the morning. (8) Lavender oil is a natural sedative due to the phytochemical methanol. But beware: do not use with other sedative drugs, including over-the-counter sleep aids.
Consider that what you buy at a drug store comes with a slew of warnings and “inactive” ingredients like artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, and propylene glycol. (9) In contrast, lavender oil is gentle enough to use for babies.
How to use lavender for Sleep:
- Make your own laundry detergent (better for you and cheaper than what you can buy anyway) and add lavender oil. Wash your sheets, pillowcases, and pajamas with the lavender-infused detergent and sleep, well, like a baby. Find the recipe here.
- If your baby is having trouble sleeping, add a couple of drops of lavender to his or her evening bath. Alternately, you can sprinkle a few drops onto a favorite stuffed animal or blanket for a similar effect.
- Make a lavender sachet and place it under your pillow or next to your bed.
Handmade Lavender Sachets
- Two 4” x 4” squares of cotton or linen
- ¼ cup dried lavender
- ½ cup uncooked rice
- lavender essential oil (optional)
- To make the sachet, place your two squares of fabric with the good sides facing inwards.
- Use a sewing machine or needle and thread, to sew them together all the way around, leaving a small opening on one side. If you’d like to make more and hang them in your closet, add a small loop of ribbon to one side while you’re sewing it.
- Snip the corners to give your sachets crisp corners and to prevent the fabric from bunching.
- Turn the sachet inside out and use a pencil to gently poke the corners in place.
- In a small bowl, mix the dried lavender with the rice. If you’d like a stronger lavender scent, stir in a few drops of lavender essential oil.
- Using a small spoon and funnel, carefully add the lavender mixture into your sachet. Hand stitch the opening closed.
5. Lavender Acne Cure
Lavender oil uses aren’t limited to beauty and wellness. In fact, lavender essential oil is antibacterial. Acne is caused by bacteria that get caught under the top layers of skin. Applied to your acne-prone skin, lavender oil (mixed with a carrier oil, such as jojoba or coconut) kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, and heals acne lesions. (10)
Acne Fighting Toner
Makes 1 oz (30 mL)
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp witch hazel (alcohol and fragrance-free)
- 10 drops organic lavender essential oil
- 5 drops jojoba oil
- Mix all ingredients in a small dark-tinted glass spray bottle.
- Shake gently to disperse the oils.
- Store in a cool dark place for up to one year
- Use on clean skin at least twice a day. Shake gently before each use and either spray directly on skin