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Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

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Also listed as: Lavandula angustifolia
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Camphene, camphor, caryophyllene, carophyllene epoxide, cineole, common lavender, dipentene, English lavender, garden lavender, Lavandula angustifolia Miller, Lavandula burnamii, Lavandula dentate, Lavandula dhofarensis, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula stoechas, lavandulol, limonene, linalool, linalyl acetate, ocimene, perillyl alcohol, pink lavender, POH, silexan, Solum Oil, Solum Ol (German), terpinene, true lavender, white lavender.

Background
  • Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, Russia, and Africa. It has been used in cosmetics and medicine throughout history. In modern times, lavender is cultivated around the world and the fragrant oils of its flowers are used in aromatherapy, baked goods, candles, cosmetics, detergents, jellies, massage oils, perfumes, powders, shampoo, soaps, and tea. English lavender is the most common type of lavender used.
  • Many people find lavender aromatherapy to be relaxing. Overall, evidence suggests that lavender reduces anxiety, although additional research is needed to draw firm conclusions.
  • Lavender aromatherapy is also used to help with sleep, decrease pain, and mental performance among other uses. However, there is insufficient evidence to support lavender's effectiveness.
  • Research suggests that perillyl alcohol, an ingredient in lavender, may be safe and well-tolerated when used for cancer.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Early research in people with severe dementia has found that lavender aromatherapy or the scent of lavender oil may help decrease agitated behavior. Further well-designed study is needed in this area before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

C


Although not well studied in humans, lavender oil may have antibacterial activity. Further study is needed to draw conclusions.

C


Lavender aromatherapy is traditionally used for relaxation. Evidence regarding the effectiveness of lavender in anxiety is mixed. Further research is needed before a strong conclusion can be made.

C


Early research suggests that lavender oil may be effective for canker sores. Further study is required to provide firm conclusions.

C


Perillyl alcohol (POH), a chemical in lavender, has been studied in some types of cancer. However, its effectiveness is unclear. Further study is needed.

C


Research on the use of lavender oil in decreasing heart disease risk is limited and its benefits are unclear. Further research is needed.

C


Early research suggests that aromatherapy massage with lavender oil reduces colic in infants. Further research is required in order to draw conclusions.

C


Early study suggests that massage with blended essential oils (including lavender) may ease constipation. Research of lavender oil alone is necessary to draw conclusions.

C


Early research on lavender aromatherapy for agitation and behavior in people with Alzheimer's dementia yielded conflicting results. Further well-designed studies are needed before a conclusion can be drawn.

C


The use of blended essential oils containing lavender is suggested to improve mouth health and hygiene. Future study of lavender alone is required to form conclusions.

C


Early research suggests that lavender may be helpful in depression. Additional research is necessary before a firm conclusion may be drawn.

C


Limited research showed that a naturopathic eardrop containing lavender helped to stop ear pain. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


In early study, lavender with other essential oils was used in combination with massage to treat childhood eczema. The eczema worsened, possibly due to an allergic reaction. More study on the effect of lavender essential oil alone is needed before firm conclusions may be made.

C


Early study suggests possible benefits of lavender aromatherapy for preventing falls in elderly nursing home residents. Further research is needed in order to draw conclusions.

C


Early research has shown that people who massage essential oils of thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood into their scalps daily had an improvement in hair loss. Research of lavender alone is needed before making a conclusion.

C


Lavender oil with tea tree oil was effective for eliminating head lice in children. Research of lavender alone is required to form a firm conclusion about its effectiveness.

C


Limited research suggests that a blend of essential oils including lavender may lower blood pressure. Further studies are needed with lavender oil alone to determine the effects of lavender on blood pressure.

C


Lavender aromatherapy is often promoted as a sleep aid. Although early evidence suggests possible benefits, more research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

C


The effect of lavender aromatherapy for mental performance is unclear. Further well-designed research is needed to draw conclusions.

C


Early research suggests that breathing lavender aroma may reduce migraine pain. Further trials are necessary to form conclusions.

C


Early evidence has shown that lavender oil in combination with grape seed oil used in a bath may help to improve overall well-being, and decrease anger and frustration. Lavender oil aromatherapy has also been shown to improve mood. Further well-designed research is needed to confirm these results.

C


Early research suggests that pain may be reduced with lavender aromatherapy. Other research has shown that lavender aromatherapy may be effective when used with acupressure for short-term relief of lower back pain. Further research is needed before firm conclusions may be drawn.

C


Early research suggests possible benefits with use of lavender essential oil in managing menstrual pain. Further higher quality studies are necessary to form conclusions.

C


Lavender used in bathwater has been evaluated for relieving pain in the perineal area (between the vagina and anus) in women after childbirth. Early research reports unclear results. Better research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

C


Early evidence suggests a potential role for lavender aromatherapy, especially in combination with massage, for improving quality of life in new mothers. More studies are needed.

C


Early studies have found conflicting results for the use of lavender aromatherapy in combination with other therapies for pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Further research is needed to draw conclusions.

C


Limited research suggests that lavender aromatherapy may improve sleep quality. More trials are necessary to assess the effects of lavender for sleep.

C


Although not well studied in humans, lavender oil inhalation may have a spasmolytic effect, or stopping muscle spasms. Further research is necessary to draw a conclusion.

C


Early research suggests that inhalation of lavender oil reduces stress. Further study is required in order to make firm conclusions.

C


Early research showed that treatment with lavender improved skin redness after surgery. Further research is required to form conclusions.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Acne, angioprotectant (protects blood vessels), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, aphrodisiac (increases sex drive), appetite stimulant, asthma, bronchitis (chronic cough), burn treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome, cholagogue (promotes bile flow), cicatrizant (scar formation), circulation problems, cleanser (douche), common cold, diabetes, diuretic (stimulates urine flow), dizziness, exercise recovery, fatigue, fever, gas, hangovers, heart rate reduction, heartburn, HIV, indigestion, infections, infertility, insect repellent, menopause, low blood pressure, menstrual flow stimulant, menstrual period problems, motion sickness, mood, nausea, neuroprotection (brain protection), parasites, psychosis, Roehmheld's syndrome (digestive system causes heart problems), sedation, seizures, snake repellant, sprains, tension headache, toothache, varicose veins (painful swollen veins), vomiting, warts, wound healing.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Undiluted essential oil of lavender may be poisonous if taken by mouth. Traditionally, 1-2 teaspoons of lavender herb has been consumed as a tea, inhaled as a vapor (2-4 drops of lavender oil in 2-3 cups of boiling water used daily or as needed). Also, 60 drops of lavender tincture (1:5 in 50% alcohol) has been applied to the skin daily, and 1-4 drops of lavender oil per tablespoon of base oil has been used during massage therapy.
  • For anxiety, 80 milligrams of silexan (lavender oil) has been taken by mouth daily for 6-10 weeks, sometimes also taken every other day for an additional 10 days. A single dose of 100 or 200 microliters of organic Lavandula angustifolia oil in capsules was given by mouth and lacked effectiveness. As aromatherapy, the following doses have been used: 10% lavender oil in grapeseed oil (lacking evidence of benefit); five drops of lavender oil in 10 milliliters of water twice daily and 3 drops to 3 milliliters of lavender oil for 5-60 minutes either in a jar or a candle warmer; lavandin combined with one drop of oil inhaled in a single sniff and then taped to the upper body. Lavender has been applied to the skin in the following doses: 0.3%-20% lavender oil solutions in 30 minute massages given weekly for 1-40 treatments; three pipettes of 20% lavender oil plus 80% grapeseed oil put into bath water, with the bath taken for 10 minutes daily for 14 days; gauze pads soaked with three drops of essential oil of lavender in 60 milliliters of water applied to the face for one minute before and after BOTOX® treatment; one drop of lavandin applied on the skin by the pedal pulse, combined with inhaling of lavandin.
  • For depression, 3 milliliters (60 drops) of lavender tincture was given by mouth once daily for four weeks.
  • For cancer, 800-1,200 milligrams per meter squared of perillyl alcohol (a lavender component) was given by mouth and lacked effectiveness.
  • For agitated behavior, lavender aromatherapy (2% lavender oil) or a lavender infused cloth has been smelled for two hours. Also, two drops of lavender oil was applied to cosmetic cotton and placed into two aroma diffusers on both sides of the pillows for at least one hour during sleep.
  • For dementia, two drops of lavender oil was placed on the underwear collar as aromatherapy three times daily (one hour after meals) for four weeks.
  • For preventing falls, patches containing lavender for inhalation were placed on the inside of clothes near the neck daily for 360 days.
  • For use as a hypnotic or sleep aid, lavender oil aromatherapy was used for the first two minutes of each 10-minute interval for a total of 30 minutes. Lavender oil aroma has been used before bed for up to one week.
  • For overall well-being, lavender essential oil aromatherapy has been used for 60 minute sessions on three different days. 20% lavender oil in combination with 80% grape seed oil has been used in a bath.
  • For pain, 15-20 drops of lavender oil in an AromaSteamT Dispenser has been used as aromatherapy. Lavender aromatherapy was administered over a three minute interval three hours after other pain relievers, then repeated in eight and 16 hours. Two drops of 2% lavender oil was added to a face mask for five minutes.
  • For sleep, a bottle with gauze soaked in lavender oil was placed by the bed every night for five days for aromatherapy.
  • For stress, two drops of 2% lavender oil was added to a face mask and used for five minutes as aromatherapy.
  • For canker sores, two drops of lavender oil (containing 36 milligrams of lavender per drop) were applied directly to the sore three times daily until healed.
  • For perineal discomfort following childbirth, 4-7 drops of lavender oil has been added into the bath up to twice daily for ten days. 0.25 milliliters of lavender oil essence in 5 liters of water has been used in 30 minute sitz baths twice daily for five days. 0.25-0.5 cups of whole, dried lavender flowers have been added to hot bath water.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There is not enough scientific evidence to safely recommend lavender for children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to lavender, its constituents, or any other members of its plant family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Lavender is likely safe when consumed in amounts commonly found in foods and beverages, or when used on the skin, or taken by mouth in recommended doses.
  • The essential oil of lavender may be poisonous if taken by mouth.
  • Lavender may cause belching, breast growth in young males, breath odor, changes in skin pigmentation, chills, chronic cough, confusion, constipation, dizziness, flu, headache, heartburn, impaired reaction time, increased sun sensitivity, itchy skin, joint pain, loss of appetite, low white blood cells, worsening of memory, narcotic effects, nausea, skin inflammation and irritation, stimulation of menstruation, stomach flu, and vomiting.
  • Lavender may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in people with low blood pressure or in those taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Lavender may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Drowsiness, nervous system depression, or sedation may occur after use of lavender. Use with caution with other sedating agents or agents that depress the nervous system.
  • Use with caution in people with stomach or hormonal conditions.
  • Avoid internal use in pregnant women and avoid applying near the breast during breastfeeding.
  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to lavender, its constituents, or any other members of its plant family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid internal use in pregnant women, due to possible stimulation of menstruation. Avoid applying near the breast during breastfeeding.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Lavender may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, and alcohol. Drowsiness caused by some seizure medicines may also be increased.
  • Lavender may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Lavender may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Lavender may also interact with agents for the lungs, agents that affect the blood or the heart, agents that affect the nervous system, agents that affect the skin, agents that affect the stomach and intestines, agents that sensitize the skin to the sun, Alzheimer's agents, anesthetics, antiandrogens, antianxiety agents, antibiotics, anti-cancer agents, antidepressant agents (tricyclic, TCAs), antifungals, anti-seizure agents, anti-inflammatories, antispasmodics, cholesterol-lowering agents, estrogens, heart-rate regulating agents, hormonal agents, and pain relievers.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Lavender used as aromatherapy or by mouth may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements, such as valerian.
  • Lavender may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Lavender may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Lavender may also interact with Alzheimer's herbs and supplements, anesthetics, antiandrogens, antianxiety herbs and supplements, antibacterials, anti-cancer herbs and supplements, antidepressant herbs and supplements, antifungals, antioxidants, anti-seizure herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatories, antispasmodics, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, heart-rate regulating herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements for the lungs, herbs and supplements that affect the blood or the heart, herbs and supplements that affect the nervous system, herbs and supplements that affect the skin, herbs and supplements that affect the stomach and intestines, herbs and supplements that sensitize the skin to the sun, hormonal herbs and supplements, pain relievers, perillyl alcohol-containing herbs and supplements, and phytoestrogens.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Altaei DT. Topical lavender oil for the treatment of recurrent aphthous ulceration. Am J Dent 2012;25(1):39-43.
  2. Apay SE, Arslan S, Akpinar RB, et al. Effect of aromatherapy massage on dysmenorrhea in Turkish students. Pain Manag.Nurs. 2012;13(4):236-240.
  3. Cetinkaya B and Basbakkal Z. The effectiveness of aromatherapy massage using lavender oil as a treatment for infantile colic. Int J Nurs.Pract. 2012;18(2):164-169.
  4. Conrad P and Adams C. The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman - a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2012;18(3):164-168.
  5. Djenane D, Aider M, Yanguela J, et al. Antioxidant and antibacterial effects of Lavandula and Mentha essential oils in minced beef inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 and S. aureus during storage at abuse refrigeration temperature. Meat.Sci 2012;92(4):667-674.
  6. Hirokawa K, Nishimoto T, and Taniguchi T. Effects of lavender aroma on sleep quality in healthy Japanese students. Percept.Mot.Skills 2012;114(1):111-122.
  7. Ou MC, Hsu TF, Lai AC, et al. Pain relief assessment by aromatic essential oil massage on outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. J Obstet.Gynaecol.Res 2012;38(5):817-822.
  8. Perry R, Terry R, Watson LK, et al. Is lavender an anxiolytic drug? A systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Phytomedicine. 6-15-2012;19(8-9):825-835.
  9. Posadzki P, Alotaibi A, and Ernst E. Adverse effects of aromatherapy: a systematic review of case reports and case series. Int J Risk Saf Med 1-1-2012;24(3):147-161.
  10. Posadzki P, Watson LK, and Ernst E. Adverse effects of herbal medicines: an overview of systematic reviews. Clin Med 2013;13(1):7-12.
  11. Reddy KK, Grossman L, and Rogers GS. Common complementary and alternative therapies with potential use in dermatologic surgery: risks and benefits. J Am Acad Dermatol 2013;68(4):e127-e135.
  12. Sasannejad P, Saeedi M, Shoeibi A, et al. Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur.Neurol. 2012;67(5):288-291.
  13. Sayorwan W, Siripornpanich V, Piriyapunyaporn T, et al. The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activity. J Med Assoc Thai. 2012;95(4):598-606.
  14. Sheikhan, F, Jahdi, F, Khoei, E. M, Shamsalizadeh, N, Sheikhan, M, and Haghani, H. Episiotomy pain relief: Use of Lavender oil essence in primiparous Iranian women. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2012;18(1):66-70.
  15. Uehleke B, Schaper S, Dienel A, et al. Phase II trial on the effects of Silexan in patients with neurasthenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or somatization disorder. Phytomedicine. 6-15-2012;19(8-9):665-671.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


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