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Lavender

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This fact sheet provides basic information about lavender—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.

 

Common Names:  lavender, English lavender, common lavender, French lavender

Latin Name: 
Lavandula angustifolia

Background

  • Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region, the Arabian Peninsula, and Russia. It is grown in Europe, the United States, and Australia.
  • Lavender has a long history of use to boost appetite and mood, as well as relieve gastrointestinal problems and anxiety. It was also used in ancient Egypt as part of the process for mummifying bodies.
  • Today, people use lavender as a dietary supplement for anxiety, depression, intestinal problems, and pain. People also apply it to the skin for hair loss, pain, and for improving emotional health. People may also inhale a lavender vapor to help sleep, to reduce pain, and for agitation related to dementia.
  • Tea can be made from lavender leaves. A vapor for inhalation can be made by mixing lavender oil (an essential oil) with boiling water. Lavender oil is used for massage and in baths. Lavender is also found in capsules and liquid extracts.

How Much Do We Know?

  • Many studies have investigated lavender’s effectiveness for a number of conditions, such as pain, anxiety, stress, and overall well-being, but several were small and of poor quality.

What Have We Learned?

  • There is little scientific evidence of lavender’s effectiveness for most health uses.
  • Studies on lavender for anxiety have shown mixed results.
  • Results of a 1998 study suggested that massaging the scalp with a combination of lavender oil and oils from other herbs may help with hair loss from a condition called alopecia areata.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • Topical use of diluted lavender oil is generally considered safe for most adults, but reports suggest it can cause skin irritation.
  • There’s not enough evidence to determine its safety when inhaled as aromatherapy.
  • Some evidence suggests that some topical applications containing lavender oil may affect sex hormone activity.
  • Lavender oil may be poisonous if taken by mouth.
  • Lavender extracts may cause stomach upset, joint pain, or headache.

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

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.

Toll-free in the U.S.: 
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers): 
1-866-464-3615

PubMed®

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), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset

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Key References

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

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.
NCCIH Publication No.: 
D366
Updated: 
September 2016

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.


NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advise of your primary health care provider. 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.


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

nccih.nih.gov

This page last modified November 30, 2016