Uses of Lavender: Everything You Need to Know

This purple flower may ease anxiety

Lavender is a flowering plant of the Lamiaceae family. There are many species of lavender, with Lavandula angustifolia being one of the most commonly used and studied.

Lavender has been used since ancient Roman times, when it was added to bathwater to enhance the smell. It is now commonly used to flavor foods, as a fragrance ingredient, and as a dietary supplement for various health conditions.

Many bioactive substances found in lavender are thought to have health benefits. These substances include terpenes, polyphenols, and flavonoids. Linalool and linalyl acetate (two types of terpenes) are thought to be responsible for the supposed calming effects of lavender.

Lavender is also said to possess antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Much of the research performed on lavender has been of poor design. Higher levels of research are needed to confirm the potential health benefits and uses of lavender.

This article discusses the scientific evidence and potential health uses of lavender. It also covers side effects, precautions, interactions, dosage, and toxicity information for lavender.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Terpenes (e.g., linalool, linalyl acetate), alcohols, ketones, polyphenols, flavonoids
  • Alternate name(s): Lavandula angustifolia, English lavender, common lavender, French lavender
  • Suggested dose: No general dosing guidelines; dosing varies depending on the product and need of use
  • Safety considerations: Possible side effects of headaches, palpitations, diarrhea, and upset stomach

Uses of Lavender

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease. 

In herbal medicine, lavender is believed to have many benefits due to its active components. Some of these benefits are supported by varying levels of scientific evidence.

Research shows that lavender may have positive effects on:

As previously mentioned, much of the research performed on lavender is weak. More research is needed to prove these health claims.

The following list reviews some of the research and possible benefits of lavender.


One of lavender's most popular uses is for anxiety. Components of lavender are thought to provoke a calming effect that may be beneficial for people with anxiety. However, research on using lavender for this purpose has yielded conflicting results.

According to one systematic review and meta-analysis, oral lavender supplements seem to be the most effective treatment for anxiety, whereas inhaled lavender and essential oil proved less valuable.

The review covered more than 60 randomized controlled trials that showed an overall improvement in anxiety compared to a placebo (a pill having no medicinal benefit). However, the review pointed out potential bias and the poor design of many of the studies included.

Another systematic review and meta-analysis found that lavender aromatherapy helped reduce self-rated anxiety. The reviewers concluded that lavender oil found in oral supplements, massage oil, or tea had a significant effect on anxiety in the studies included.

bottle of lavender oil next to a lavender plant

Svitlana Romadina / Getty Images


Lavender may be a safe and effective treatment for various sleep disorders.

A small trial tested this theory over five nights on college students with self-reported poor sleep hygiene. Over the course of the study, some participants wore an adhesive patch on their chest while sleeping, with only some of the patches containing 55 microliters of lavender essential oil. At the end of the study (and at the two-week follow-up), participants who received lavender patches had improved sleep quality and better overall sleep practices.

In some cases, sleep deprivation is caused by mental and physical stress. Accordingly, a pilot study from 2021 found that lavender essential oil suppressed the stress response during short-duration sleep. This led researchers to believe that using lavender during naps may provide an antistress effect.

Like these studies, much of the research on lavender's effects on sleep has been performed on small sample sizes. Large human trials are needed to further confirm lavender's role in sleep.


Breathing in lavender essential oil may reduce the severity of headaches, at least for the short term.

The study included people experiencing post-dural puncture headaches, a complication caused by being given spinal anesthesia. In the study, participants inhaled lavender oil or a liquid placebo for 15 minutes.

Headache severity was tested before the inhalation, as well as immediately after, 30 minutes after, 60 minutes after, 90 minutes after, and 120 minutes after. Those in the lavender oil group were found to have more significant reductions in headache severity, but this was the case only immediately after the intervention.

Another study was performed on people with migraines, a type of severe headache. In this trial, migraines were self-assessed at the beginning and end of three months. Lavender therapy was found to be a safe and effective treatment in reducing both the frequency and severity of migraines.


Research has shown that lavender contains anti-inflammatory activity.

In one lab study, essential oils from lavender reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory substances in human tissue. The main active ingredients thought to be responsible for these effects were linalool and linalyl acetate.

Another lab study tested the effects of oral and topical lavender essential oil on the acute inflammatory response in mice. In the study, mice with induced edema (inflammation) received varying doses of lavender essential oil. Low-dose lavender reduced inflammation, while high doses caused irritation.

Although we can learn from these and similar studies, human trials are needed. More research must be done to prove that lavender can indeed reduce inflammation in humans.

Wound Healing

Lavender may help your wounds heal faster.

A 2020 review looked at current evidence on lavender essential oil as a cost-effective option for wound healing. By reviewing 20 studies, researchers learned that lavender oil sped up the process of wound healing. According to the review, lavender may increase the production of collagen, a protein important for skin and healing.

Unfortunately, few human trials exist on this subject. More research is needed to validate these results.

Does Lavender Have Side Effects?

There is still much to learn when it comes to the safety of lavender supplements.

Lavender is mostly thought to be safe, but side effects are possible. It's also possible to be allergic to lavender. For the most part, lavender side effects are thought to be both rare and mild.

However, research shows that the most commonly reported side effects of lavender are:

Topical lavender has been shown to cause additional side effects, including:

There is some evidence that lavender may cause certain types of allergic reactions in some people. A study of over 2,000 people found just 2% of participants to have allergic contact dermatitis. Personal care items and essential oils containing lavender were found to be the most common causes of allergic reactions.

More research is needed to determine if additional side effects are possible.

If you experience side effects when using lavender, stop taking it and talk with a healthcare provider. Side effects should subside after stopping.


Some people may need to limit or avoid lavender use.

It is unknown if lavender supplements are safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. For this reason, it's best for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding to avoid using lavender.

Lavender may also not be appropriate for use in children. In rare cases, children have experienced swelling in their breast tissue after using lavender. However, it is not definitively known if lavender was the cause of swelling in these cases.

If you take prescription medications or have any health conditions, be sure to talk with a healthcare provider to determine if lavender is a good fit for you.

Dosage: How Much Lavender Should I Use?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before starting a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs. 

More research is needed before dosage guidelines can be made for lavender.

Dosing varies and typically depends on the form of lavender (e.g., essential oil, oral supplement, aromatherapy), brand, and reason for use.

For anxiety, oral lavender supplements range from 80 milligrams to 160 milligrams or more per day. Studies using lavender aromatherapy for anxiety have administered treatment for five to 15 minutes at a time.

Fifteen minutes of lavender aromatherapy inhalation has also been shown to improve headaches.

In one sleep study, sleep quality was improved for participants who wore patches on their chest that contained 55 microliters of lavender essential oil.

Because lavender dosage tends to vary widely, it's recommended that you follow directions as listed on the product label. A healthcare provider can also help you determine the proper lavender dose.

Can Lavender Be Toxic?

High doses of lavender oil can be toxic if consumed.

Signs that you have taken too much lavender include:

You should seek immediate medical attention if you have any signs of lavender oil toxicity.

To prevent toxicity and other adverse events, only take lavender supplements as directed. Taking too much of anything has the potential to cause unwanted side effects.

Lavender Interactions

Possible interactions between lavender and other supplements, medications, or foods are not well-documented. Regardless, interactions may be present.

There is a general concern that essential oils like lavender have the potential to interact negatively with various medications.

Because lavender may cause sleepiness, there is also concern that it could interact with sedatives and other medications that lead to drowsiness. However, this interaction has not been officially reported in any scientific studies.

There also is concern that lavender may cause hypotension (low blood pressure) in people taking blood pressure medications. Various studies have found lavender to have a blood pressure–lowering effect. However, this interaction is also not documented in any research.

Be sure to disclose all medications or supplements you take to a healthcare provider before starting lavender.

You should also be sure to carefully read the ingredients list and nutrition facts panel of your supplements to learn which ingredients are included. Please review supplement labels with your healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. 

How to Store Lavender

Lavender supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place. This includes lavender essential oils, dried flowers, and other supplement forms.

It's also important to keep lavender supplements out of direct sunlight. Doing so will help maintain the quality of your supplements.

To prevent accidental ingestion, keep lavender supplements out of reach of small children and pets.

Discard lavender once it reaches its expiration date or as described on the product packaging.

Similar Supplements

Lavender may provide the same benefits as other supplements. In fact, many supplements may work similarly to lavender.

A few supplements that are similar to lavender include:

  • Ashwagandha: A popular herb in Ayurveda (ancient Indian medical system) ashwagandha has long been used to relieve stress and anxiety. In one study, participants who took 240 milligrams of ashwagandha extract per day reported improved anxiety by the end of the 60-day study. Ashwagandha use was also found to decrease levels of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress.
  • Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body that is important to the sleep-wake cycle. Some people find that taking melatonin supplements helps with sleep. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that melatonin supplements have an overall positive effect on sleep quality, especially for people with respiratory diseases, metabolic disorders, and primary sleep disorders.
  • Magnesium: A deficiency in magnesium may increase headaches, which is why supplementing with this mineral is thought to improve headache symptoms. According to one review, magnesium supplements are well-tolerated, affordable, and effective in relieving headache pain, especially for people who are deficient.
  • Resveratrol: Commonly found in red wine, resveratrol is a plant-based compound that contains polyphenols and other important phytonutrients. Due to these bioactive ingredients, resveratrol has been found to contain anti-inflammatory properties. Resveratrol is thought to reduce the secretion of inflammatory substances in the body.
  • Zinc: Zinc is an essential micronutrient that plays a role in many important functions in the human body, including wound healing. In fact, zinc is needed for every phase of the wound-healing process. Zinc supplementation has been linked to improved wound healing, especially in people of advanced age or critically ill patients.

Talk with a healthcare provider about which herbs and supplements are best for you. In many cases, you should only take one supplement at a time for a health condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who should not take lavender?

    Lavender isn't a good fit for everyone.

    People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking lavender.

    Lavender may also not be safe for children, as swelling has occurred in some cases. However, it is uncertain whether this was due to the lavender or another cause.

    Those who have medical conditions or are taking prescription medications should talk with a healthcare provider before taking lavender to discuss any safety concerns.

  • Are lavender supplements safe?

    Lavender supplements are generally thought to be safe. However, safety studies are lacking.

    Although rare, lavender supplements can cause side effects like diarrhea, upset stomach, and heart palpitations. Topical lavender has been linked to contact dermatitis and allergic reactions.

  • Does lavender help you sleep?

    A few small studies have found lavender to be an effective supplement for sleep.

    In one such study, sleep-deprived college students wore either a lavender patch or a placebo patch overnight for five nights. The students who wore lavender patches reported better sleep quality and waking feeling refreshed.

    Large-scale human trials are necessary to confirm these findings further.

  • Does lavender help with anxiety?

    Research shows that lavender helps reduce symptoms of anxiety.

    According to a recent systematic review and meta-analysis, lavender use improved anxiety in the studies reviewed. Various forms of lavender were used in the studies, including aromatherapy, topical lavender oil, and oral supplements. However, a high risk of bias was present in many of the studies due to lavender's strong smell that was noticeable to study participants.

Sources of Lavender & What to Look For

Lavender is found in a variety of products, including foods, soaps, fragrances, and teas. In herbal medicine, lavender is mainly used topically, as an oral supplement, or for aromatherapy.

Food Sources of Lavender

Although lavender isn't naturally found in foods, some people like to cook with it.

The flowers of the lavender plant are often used for cooking. You can find lavender flowers that have been dried and crushed to make cooking easier.

Lavender flowers have been found to contain several bioactive ingredients, many of which possess antioxidant activity. It is believed that cooking with lavender may provide health benefits.

Lavender Supplements

For health benefits, lavender supplements are typically used in the form of soft gels, capsules, liquid extracts, dried flowers, and essential oils,

Sometimes, oral lavender supplements contain additional herbs and nutrients. Be sure to read the ingredients list on the supplement label so you know what you are getting.

It's important to note that lavender essential oil is not meant to be swallowed. Essential oils are typically reserved for topical use or aromatherapy. Only use lavender essential oils per the product directions.

Many lavender supplements are naturally vegan and gluten-free. There are also many organic lavender products. This information can be found on the product label.

If possible, look for lavender supplements that have been approved by third-party agencies like U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab. These agencies test supplements to ensure they contain what is listed in the ingredients. Remember, though, that supplements are largely unregulated in the United States, and some brands take advantage of this with unproven claims.

Supplements should never delay or replace standard medical care.


Lavender is a flowering plant that has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries.

Although research is limited, lavender has shown promise as an alternative treatment for anxiety, sleep, headaches, and other health issues. Yet, more research is needed to strengthen the many health claims surrounding lavender.

Talk with a healthcare provider to learn if lavender may be right for you.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brittany Lubeck, RD
Brittany Lubeck, RD, is a nutrition writer and registered dietitian with a master's degree in clinical nutrition.