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Parts Used & Where Grown
Eastern European countries, particularly Bulgaria, as well as France, Britain, Australia, and Russia grow large quantities of lavender. The fragrant flowers of lavender are used in the preparation of herbal medicines.
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Refer to label instructions
In a double-blind trial, a proprietary lavender oil preparation (silexan) provided significant symptom relief to people with generalized anxiety disorder.
In a double-blind trial, individuals with anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder) received 80 mg per day of a proprietary lavender oil preparation (silexan, 80 mg once a day) or a low dose of an anti-anxiety drug (lorazepam, 0.5 mg once a day) for 6 weeks. Significant improvement was seen in both groups, and the degree of improvement was similar in both treatment groups.2
Refer to label instructions
Lavender oil's aroma is known to be calming and may be helpful in some cases of insomnia.
The volatile oil of lavender contains many medicinal components, including perillyl alcohol, linalool, and geraniol. The oil's aroma is known to be calming and thus may be helpful in some cases of insomnia.3 One study of elderly people with sleeping troubles found that inhaling lavender oil was as effective as some commonly prescribed sleep medications.4 Similar results were seen in another trial that included young and middle aged people with insomnia.5 Teas made from lavender flowers or from the oil (1 to 4 drops) are approved for internal use by the German Commission E for people with insomnia.6 Internal use of essential oils can be dangerous and should be done only with the supervision of a trained herbalist or healthcare professional.
Perineal Pain after Childbirth
Add several drops to a bath
In one study, adding lavender oil to a bath helped relieve perineal pain after childbirth.
In one study, the addition of lavender oil to a bath was more effective than a placebo in relieving perineal pain after childbirth (the perineum is the area between the vulva and the anus.)7 The improvement was not statistically significant, however, so more research is needed to determine whether lavender oil is truly effective.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Lavender is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.
Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.8
There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.9 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.10 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.11 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Traditionally, herbalists used lavender for a variety of conditions of the nervous system, including depression and fatigue.1 It has also been used for headache and rheumatism. Due to its delightful odor, lavender has found wide application in perfumes and cosmetics throughout history.
How It Works
How It Works
The volatile oil (also called essential oil) of lavender contains many constituents, including perillyl alcohol and linalool. The oil is thought to be calming12 and thus can be helpful in some cases of insomnia. One study of elderly people with sleeping troubles found that inhaling lavender oil was as effective as some commonly prescribed sleep medications.13 Similar results were seen in another trial that included young and middle-aged people with insomnia.14 A large clinical trial found that lavender oil added to a bath was no more effective than a placebo for relieving perineal discomfort immediately after childbirth.15 However, perineal pain was reduced three to five days afterward. Lavender is recommended by the German Commission E monograph for indigestion and nervous intestinal discomfort.16
How to Use It
The German Commission E monograph suggests 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) of the herb be taken as a tea.17 The tea can be made by steeping 2 teaspoons (10 grams) of leaves in 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water for fifteen minutes. Three cups (750 ml) can be consumed each day. For internal applications, 1/2–3/4 teaspoon (2–4 ml) of tincture can be taken two or three times per day. Several drops of the oil can be added to a bath or diluted in vegetable oil for topical applications. The concentrated oil is not for internal use, except under medical supervision.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
Internal use of the volatile oil can cause severe nausea. Very small amounts should be used only under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Excessive intake (several times more than the recommended amount) may cause drowsiness.18 External use in reasonable amounts is safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
In case reports, three young boys developed breast enlargement (gynecomastia) after repeated topical application of products that contained lavender oil and tea tree oil. The problem resolved after they stopped using the oils. While a cause–effect relationship was not conclusively proven, it was suggested by the fact that these oils have been found to have estrogen-like effects in test tube studies.19
1. Hoffmann D. The New Holistic Herbal, 2d ed. Rockport, MA: Element, 1990, 210.
2. Woelk H, Schlafke S. A multi-center, double-blind, randomized study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine2010;17:94–9.
3. Buchbauer G, Jirovetz L, Jager W, et al. Aromatherapy: Evidence for sedative effects of the essential oil of lavender after inhalation. Z Naturforsch [C] 1991;46:1067-72.
4. Hardy M, Kirk-Smith MD, Stretch DD. Replacement of drug therapy for insomnia by ambient odour. Lancet 1995;346:701 [letter].
5. Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. J Altern Complement Med 2005;11:631-7.
6. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 159-60.
7. Dale A, Cornwell S. The role of lavender oil in relieving perineal discomfort following childbirth: A blind randomized trial. J Adv Nursing 1994;19:89-96.
8. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants. Planta Med 1980;40:303-19.
9. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425-6.
10. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 185-6.
11. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 198.
12. Buchbauer G, Jirovetz L, Jager W, et al. Aromatherapy: Evidence for sedative effects of the essential oil of lavender after inhalation. Z Naturforsch [C] 1991;46:1067-72.
13. Hardy M, Kirk-Smith MD, Stretch DD. Replacement of drug therapy for insomnia by ambient odour. Lancet 1995;346:701 [letter].
14. Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. J Altern Complement Med 2005;11:631-7.
15. Dale A, Cornwell S. The role of lavender oil in relieving perineal discomfort following childbirth: A blind randomized trial. J Adv Nursing 1994;19:89-96.
16. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000, 226-9.
17. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 159-60.
18. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 339-42.
19. Henley DV, Lipson N, Korach KS, Bloch CA. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. N Engl J Med 2007;356:479-85.
Last Review: 05-24-2015
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