Common Names: lavender, English lavender, common lavender, French lavender
Latin Names: Lavandula angustifolia
- Lavender is native to countries in the Mediterranean region, including France, Spain, and Italy.
- The name lavender comes from the Latin verb “lavare,” meaning “to wash.” In ancient Rome, lavender was used as a bath additive.
- Lavender is used to flavor foods and beverages and as a fragrance ingredient in soaps and cosmetics. It is promoted as a dietary supplement for anxiety, depression, digestive symptoms, and other conditions. It is also promoted for topical use (application to the skin) and use in aromatherapy.
How Much Do We Know?
- Studies have been done on the use of lavender for a variety of conditions, but there hasn’t been enough high-quality research to allow definite conclusions to be reached about its effectiveness.
What Have We Learned?
- Studies of a lavender oil product that is taken orally (by mouth) have suggested it might be beneficial for anxiety, but because of limitations of the research, including the small size of the studies, no definite conclusions can be reached about its effectiveness.
- It’s uncertain whether lavender oil used as aromatherapy is helpful for anxiety or other conditions.
What Do We Know About Safety?
- Consumption of lavender in the amounts typically used in foods is likely to be safe. Short-term oral use in the amounts tested in studies of lavender for anxiety or other conditions may also be safe.
- The topical use of products containing lavender may cause allergic skin reactions in some people.
- A few cases of swelling of breast tissue have been reported in children who used topical products containing lavender. However, it’s unclear whether the lavender was responsible for the breast swelling, a condition that can have many causes.
- Little is known about whether it’s safe to use lavender during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Keep in Mind
- Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.
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- de Groot A, Schmidt E. Essential oils, part V: peppermint oil, lavender oil, and lemongrass oil. Dermatitis. 2016;27(6):325-332.
- Generoso MB, Soares A, Taiar IT, et al. Lavender oil preparation (Silexan) for treating anxiety: an updated meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2017;37(1):115-117.
- Hawkins J, Hires C, Dunne E, et al. The relationship between lavender and tea tree essential oils and pediatric endocrine disorders: a systematic review of the literature. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2020;49:102288.
- Lavender. Natural Medicines website. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com on March 5, 2020. [Database subscription].
- Lillihei AS, Halcon LL. A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2014;20(6):441-451.
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