Updated: May 23, 2019
by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - May 13, 2019 Medically reviewed by Scott Johnson (AMP, CEEOS, CCMA, CPC)
The proven health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, disinfect the scalp and skin, prevent acne, enhance blood circulation, and treat respiratory problems. Lavender oil is used extensively in aromatherapy and works as a natural sleep aid. Its potent antibacterial nature makes it a wonderful household cleanser and deodorant.
What is Lavender Essential Oil?
The lavender essential oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant (Lavandula angustifolia), primarily through steam distillation. Lavender flowers are known for their calming fragrance and have been used for making potpourri for centuries. The Latin name of lavender is Lavare, which means “to wash”. This is because lavender flowers and lavender essential oil have been used since ancient times by the Romans, Persians, Greeks, and Egyptians as a bath additive and perfume.
The lavender essential oil is pure oil and differs from certain commercial lavender oils which may be diluted and are often sold as perfumes. Lavender perfume and body sprays are popular due to their fresh and floral scent. On the other hand, the pure lavender essential oil is frequently used in various forms including as an aromatherapy oil, in gels, infusions, lotions, soaps, baby products, and candles. It is also used to make tea, lemonades, syrups, aromatic beverages, and baked dishes.
Lavender Oil Benefits & Uses
The powerful health benefits of lavender essential oil include the following:
Promotes Wound Healing
The lavender essential oil is an excellent essential oil to have on hand as it helps treat minor cuts, bruises, and burns. According to a 2016 study published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal, the essential oil boosts the synthesis of collagen and heals skin tissues. Just rub a few drops of lavender essential oil on the bruised area or on burns to increase blood circulation and healing. It can also be used to soothe skin irritations, razor bumps, and sunburn.
A study published in Brain Research (February 2014) showed that lavender oil has the potential to reduce brain edema and improve functional ability in people affected by cerebral ischemia. While lavender has traditionally been used in many cosmetic and therapeutic applications due to medicinal properties, this study confirms that lavender oil has potent neuroprotective properties. Furthermore, the oil helps increase antioxidant capacity in the body and inhibits oxidative stress.
Relieves Stress & Anxiety
Applying a few drops of lavender oil to your temples can be helpful in treating migraines, headaches, depression, nervous tension, and emotional stress. You can also add a few drops of lavender oil to your bath water to reduce nervous exhaustion and restlessness. This is because terpenoids like linalool and linalyl acetate, present in lavender essential oil, have powerful anxiolytic abilities.
A 2018 research by Western University of Health Sciences, California shows that the oil may be an excellent tonic for anxiety issues. Multiple studies suggest that oral administration of lavender preparations reduces anxiety. Dr. Nicolette Perry from the Medicinal Plant Research Centre, Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria in the UK, in her research paper, verified that aromatherapy helps manage chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
Helps with Respiratory Disorders
Lavender oil is widely used for various respiratory problems including throat infection, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. It can be put in in an aromatherapy essential oil diffuser or alternatively, it can be topically applied to the skin of neck, chest, and back. It is also added to many vaporizers and inhalers that are commonly used for cold and cough. The stimulating nature of lavender essential oil can also loosen up the phlegm and relieve congestion associated with respiratory conditions, thus speeding up the recovery process and helping the body naturally eliminate phlegm and other unwanted material. The vapor of lavender essential oil also has antibacterial qualities which can battle respiratory tract infections.
Lavender essential oil induces sleep and is often used as an alternative treatment for insomnia. Put a few drops of the fragrant oil in your palms and rub it on your pillowcase and bedsheets. It will ensure a good night’s sleep. A team of researchers studied the effects of lavender aromatherapy on 67 women in Taiwan aged 45-55 years. The volunteers showed a significant improvement in sleep quality and a persistent positive effect of heart rate variability with an increase in parasympathetic modulation.
Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to a variety of diseases. Lavender has antibacterial and antiviral qualities that make it perfect for defending the body against rare diseases like TB, typhoid, and diphtheria, according to early research in the 20th century.
According to dermatologists, the lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial oils in the treatment of acne, which is an uncomfortable and embarrassing condition that primarily affects young people as they move through puberty, but can also afflict adults. Its antibacterial and therapeutic properties were verified by Dr. Gerhard Buchbayer from the Department of Clinical Pharmacy & Diagnostics, University of Vienna.
Pure lavender essential oil inhibits the bacteria that cause the initial acne infection, helps to regulate the over-excretion of sebum by hormonal manipulation and can reduce the signs of scarring after the acne has begun to heal. Adding a small amount of lavender essential oil to other skin creams or ointments can greatly increase the potential for relief and healing.
The lavender essential oil is useful for hair care because it has been shown to be very effective on lice, lice eggs, and nits. Furthermore, therapeutic grade lavender essential oil has also been shown to be very helpful in the treatment of hair loss, particularly for patients who suffer from alopecia, an autoimmune disease where the body rejects its own hair follicles. A Scottish study reported that more than 40% of alopecia patients in the study reported an increase in hair growth when they regularly rubbed lavender essential oil into their scalp. Therefore, lavender oil is sometimes recommended as a preventative measure for male pattern baldness.
The lavender essential oil is known as an excellent remedy for various types of pains including those caused by sore and tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache, and lumbago. A regular massage with lavender oil can provide relief from pain in the joints. A study was done by Dr. Jung Kim, Department of Anesthesiology, New York University Medical Center on postoperative pain relief. It showed that combining lavender essential oil vapor into the oxygen improved satisfaction rate with pain control, versus those patients who were only revived with oxygen after major surgery.
The smell of lavender essential oil is potent for many types of bugs like mosquitoes, midges, and moths. Apply some lavender oil on the exposed skin when outside to prevent these irritating bites. Furthermore, if you do happen to be bitten by one of those bugs, spike lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that will reduce the irritation and the pain associated with bug bites.
Stimulates Urine Flow
The lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders because of its stimulating effect on urine production. Furthermore, it helps in restoring hormonal balance and reducing cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces associated cramps with these and other disorders.
Improves Blood Circulation
The lavender essential oil is also good for improving the circulation of blood in the body. Researchers from the Department of Cardiovascular Science and Medicine, Chiba University in Japan suggests that aromatherapy using lavender oil has beneficial effects on coronary circulation. It also lowers blood pressure and is often used as a treatment for hypertension. This means that not only do the organs increase their levels of oxygenation, promoting muscle strength and health, but brain activity can have a noticeable boost, skin remains bright and flushed with blood, and the body is protected from the risks of heart attack and atherosclerosis often associated with poor blood circulation.
Aids in Digestion
Lavender oil is useful for digestion because it increases the mobility of food within the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile, thus aiding in the treatment of indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Premium lavender oil is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions. It is commonly used to speed up the healing process of wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns because it improves the formation of scar tissues. It is also added to chamomile oil to treat eczema.
According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, human studies are needed to find out the depth of lavender oil properties that may help to treat cancer. However, the oil has properties that help treat insomnia, mental stress, and anxiety, which can go a long way in aiding overall health.
Other health benefits of the lavender essential oil include its ability to treat leucorrhoea. The oil can also be used to repel mosquitoes and moths so you may find many mosquito repellents containing lavender oil as one of the primary ingredients.
Lavender Essential Oil – Side Effects & Caution
According to the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health, oral intake is not safe and while using this oil some people may experience:
Pain in joints
There are some risks to this potent oil. They are:
Pregnant and breastfeeding women: As with many other essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare practitioner before using lavender essential oil.
Children: Caution should be exercised while using the oil especially on children.
Allergy: It may also cause allergic reactions like skin irritation to people who have unusually sensitive skin.
Blending: Handcraft lavender oil blends well with many other essential oils including cedarwood, pine, clary sage, geranium, and nutmeg.
About the Author
Meenakshi Nagdeve is a health and wellness enthusiast and started working on Organic Facts since 2012 and is currently responsible for managing it. She follows naturopathy and believes in healing with foods. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.