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© Steven Foster

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.

For More Information

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

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A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.


Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know) and fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements).


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Key References

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NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: August 2020