Health Benefits

Lavender Essential Oil

A fully referenced, free resource summarising the key scientific investigations into the health benefits of lavender essential oil.

Insomnia

Lavender essential oil has long been understood to provide therapeutic relief for sufferers of insomnia.

Modern scientific studies provide evidence for these long-held claims. 

Inhalation of Lavender on middle-aged women with menopausal symptoms

A study of 33 women aged 48-65 with clinically diagnosed insomnia and menopausal symptoms were separated into two groups. One group inhaled lavender essential oil before sleep and the other acted as a control. Concluded that while statistically similar results were observed between the control and the experimental group, inhalation of lavender essential oil is a safe, low-cost practice that should be considered as a complementary option to conventional treatments. 

[1]

Improvement in sleep quality of healthy Japanese students 

A study of the sleep quality of a group of healthy Japanese students over a 5 day period. An experimental group inhaled lavender essential oil from an open bottle. Both the experimental group and a control group were surveyed on their sleep quality. A statistically significant improvement in sleep quality was recorded in the experimental group compared to the control group. No sex differences were observed. Concluded that nighttime exposure to lavender aroma relieves sleepiness at awakening.

[2]

Lavender aromatherapy in an intermediate care unit

A study of patients the sleep quality of intermediate care patients when exposed to lavender essential oil aroma. Lavender essential oil was placed in a glass jar beside the patients' beds overnight. Discovered that blood pressure was significantly lower between midnight and 4 am in the treatment group than in the control group. Concluded that lavender aromatherapy may be an effective way to improve sleep in an intermediate care unit. 

[3]

Inhalation of Lavender on middle-aged women with menopausal symptoms

A group of people aged 45-55 from Taipei were given aromatherapy treatment in the form of inhalation of lavender essential oil from a diffuser. Inhalation lasted for 20 minutes twice a week for 12 weeks. Concluded that inhalation of lavender essential oil improved sleep quality in women with insomnia and helps to moderate Heart Rate Variability in the short term. 

[4]

Overnight inhalation of lavender essential oil 

A group of 10 people with insomnia inhaled lavender essential oil while sleeping over a four week period. A separate control group inhaled (scentless) sweet almond oil. The aroma was supplied through a diffusion device. Concluded that inhalation of lavender essential oil had a statistically significant effect on sleep quality. 

[5]

Improvement in sleep quality using an essential oil blend. 

A mixture of essential oils including lavender, basil, juniper and sweet marjoram was used to improve sleep quality in older patients at the Tullamore General Hospital (Ireland). Concluded that a combination of oil vaporisation and a five minute hand massage over a two week period led to a significant increase in the number of patients reporting an improvement in sleep quality. 

[6]

Sleep improvement in four benzodiazepine-dependent patients

A study of four patients addicted to benzodiazepine to investigate if lavender essential oil could replace addiction to the drug. Concluded that exposure to lavender essential oil aroma over a 6 week period resulted in less restlessness during sleep. Emphasised that lavender essential oil would be a safe and economical complementary treatment. 

[7]

Lavender essential oil aromatherapy for hospitalised patients

A study of 31 hospitalised patients who inhaled lavender essential oil with the aim of investigating improvements in sleep quality. Over 245 patient-nights, 72% of patients who received lavender essential oil aromatherapy reported sleeping well, compared to 11% of control patients. A follow-up survey reported that 80% of those who received lavender essential oil aromatherapy experienced continued benefit after 2 weeks.  

[8]

Lavender massage on the sleeping patterns of autistic children

A study of the effect of lavender essential oil aromatherapy massage on twelve children with autism (ten boys and two girls) aged 12-15. The children were given a massage for 30 minutes for three nights before going to sleep. Concluded that while there were no statistical improvements in the children's sleep patterns, it is possible that there are greater effects in the home environment. 

[9]

Lavender odour patch on university students

An odour patch containing lavender essential oil was adhered to the chests of a group of university students who self-reported sleep issues. Statistically significant improvement in sleep quality,
and daytime fatigue were reported compared to those students with a scentless odour patch.

[10]

Lavender diffusion improves sleep for healthy young adults

A group of 31 healthy young adults aged 18-30 were exposure to lavender essential oil aroma from a diffuser for 3 consecutive nights. All subjects reported high 'vigour' the next morning, increased stage 2 sleep, and decreased rapid eye movement. A difference was observed between men and women. 

[11]

Improvement in sleep quality of female ischemic heart patients

A group of Iranian patients suffering from ischemic heart disease. Sleep quality was significantly improved in the experimental group compared to the control group. Concluded that inhalation of lavender essential oil can improve the quality of sleep and consequent overall health. 

[12]

Female students suffering from insomnia

A study of forty two female college students suffering with insomnia. An experimental group was exposed to lavender essential oil aroma and asked to record their sleep quality. Concluded that lavender fragrance had a beneficial effect on insomnia and depression. Noted that further studies are needed to determine the optimum proportions of lavender essential oil and carrier oil.

[13]

Citations

[1] Dos Reis Lucena L, Dos Santos-Junior JG, Tufik S, Hachul H. Lavender essential oil on postmenopausal women with insomnia: Double-blind randomized trial. Complement Ther Med. 2021 Jun;59:102726. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102726. Epub 2021 Apr 24. PMID: 33905827.

[2] Hirokawa K, Nishimoto T, Taniguchi T. Effects of lavender aroma on sleep quality in healthy Japanese students. Percept Mot Skills. 2012 Feb;114(1):111-22. doi: 10.2466/13.15.PMS.114.1.111-122. PMID: 22582680.

[3] Moeini M, Khadibi M, Bekhradi R, Mahmoudian SA, Nazari F. Effect of aromatherapy on the quality of sleep in ischemic heart disease patients hospitalized in intensive care units of heart hospitals of the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010;15(4):234-239.

[4] Li-Wei Chien, Su Li Cheng, Chi Feng Liu, "The Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on Autonomic Nervous System in Midlife Women with Insomnia", Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 740813, 8 pages, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/740813

[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 Aug;11(4):631-7. doi: 10.1089/acm.2005.11.631. PMID: 16131287.

[6] C. Graham, “Complementary therapies: in the scent of a good night’s sleep,” Nursing Standard, vol. 9, article 21, 1995.

[7] M. Hardy, M. D. Kirk-Smith, and D. D. Stretch, “Replacement of drug treatment for insomnia by ambient odour,” Lancet, vol. 346, no. 8976, p. 701, 1995

[8] R. Hudson, “The value of lavender for rest and activity in the elderly patient,” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 52–57, 1996.

[9] T. I. Williams, “Evaluating effects of aromatherapy massage on sleep in children with autism: a pilot study,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 373– 377, 2006.

[10] Lillehei AS, Halcón LL, Savik K, Reis R. Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Jul;21(7):430-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0327. Epub 2015 Jun 2. PMID: 26133206; PMCID: PMC4505755.

[11] Goel N, Kim H, Lao RP. An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiol Int. 2005;22(5):889-904. doi: 10.1080/07420520500263276. PMID: 16298774.

[12] Lytle J, Mwatha C, Davis KK. Effect of lavender aromatherapy on vital signs and perceived quality of sleep in the intermediate care unit: a pilot study. Am J Crit Care. 2014 Jan;23(1):24-9. doi: 10.4037/ajcc2014958. PMID: 24382614.

[13] Lee IS, Lee GJ. [Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students]. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Feb;36(1):136-43. Korean. doi: 10.4040/jkan.2006.36.1.136. PMID: 16520572.

Anxiety

Lavender essential oil has long been understood to provide therapeutic relief for sufferers of generalised anxiety.

Modern scientific studies provide evidence for this wonderful wellness property.

Inhalation of lavender essential oil aroma

The effect of inhalation of lavender essential oil on mood and anxiety were studied in 14 female patients with chronic hemodialysis. A control group was exposed to odourless hiba oil. Concluded that lavender essential oil aroma significantly decreased the levels of anxiety in the patients.  

[1]

Aromatherapy massage

A study of 122 critically ill patients in a hospital intensive care unit. A group of patients was treated with an aromatherapy massage while another group was treated to a massage without aromatherapy. Concluded that the aromatherapy group reported a significant improvement in their perceived anxiety. 

[2]

Aromatherapy massage effect on bypass patients

A study of 28 patients recovering from bypass surgery who were given a 20 minute aromatherapy massage over a period of 2 consecutive days. Concluded that respiratory rates decreased in patients who completed the study. Interestingly, the results showed that Lavandula hybrida was slightly more effective than Lavandula angustifolia.   

[3]

Improvement in welfare of pigs

Forty large white pigs were transported by road for 2 hours a day over a period of two days. Two groups were studied: one were provided with a bedding of wheat straw and the other with dried lavender. Concluded that symptoms of travel sickness appear to be less acute when exposed to lavender compared with straw.  

[4]

Effect on Skin resistance, blood flow and instantaneous heart rate

A study of 15 adults who inhaled vapours including lavender essential oil. Concluded that exposure to lavender essential oil led to a significant reduction in skin resistance, skin blood flow, and instantaneous heart rate. 

[5]

Lavandin as a anxiety therapeutic

Study of 150 adult patients who were likely to require anxiety medications. The patients were split into 3 groups: standard care, aromatherapy with lavandin essential oil, and aromatherapy with jojoba oil. Concluded that lavandin is a simple, low-risk, cost-effective therapeutic to reduce anxiety. Note that this study investigated the use of lavandin essential oil rather than lavender. 

[6]

Percutaneous coronary intervention

A study of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in an intensive care unit. Aromatherapy was given with a mixture of lavender, chamomile (roman) and neroli (6:2:0.5 parts). Concluded that aromatherapy was effective in reducing patients' anxiety levels and increasing sleep quality.

[7]

Breast surgery patients

A study of the anxiety of 93 women before undergoing breast surgery. The group was split into two: one with lavender essential oil and the other unscented. Concluded that there was a slight but statistically significant increase in positive feelings in the lavender group but that the added attention given to patients in the lavender group may have to some extent contributed as a placebo.

[8]

Cosmetic face surgery

A study of 30 patients undergoing cosmetic facial injections of botulinum toxin type A ("Botox"). One group of patients were exposed to the aroma of lavender essential oil whereas the other group received a placebo. Found that the patients who were exposed to lavender essential oil showed a significant reduction in heart rate compared to the placebo group. Concluded that lavender has the potential to ease anxiety in patients undergoing minimally invasive facial cosmetic procedures.  

[9]

Post-surgical chest tube removal

A study of 80 patients undergoing post-surgical chest tube removal. Found that there was a significant decrease in the anxiety level experienced in the groups exposed to lavender essential oil compared to the control group. Concluded that aromatherapy with lavender essential oil is an effective way of reducing anxiety associated with post-surgical chest tube removal. 

[10]

Patients waiting for dental surgery

A study of 200 patients aged 18-77 (mixed sex) waiting for dental procedures. The patients were exposed to the odour of lavender and orange essential oil and assessed for anxiety, mood, alertness and calmness. Concluded that lavender and orange odour improves mood and reduces anxiety in patients waiting for dental surgery. 

[11]

Postpartum period

A study of 140 women were immediately divided into two groups after delivery of their child: one group was exposed to inhalation of lavender essential oil and the other group was provided with routine care (the control). The aromatherapy group inhaled 3 drops of lavender essential oil every 8 hours over a period of 4 weeks. Concluded that inhaling lavender essential oil aroma significantly lowers stress, anxiety and depression after childbirth. 

[12]

Silexan

A study of 221 adults suffering from anxiety disorder, of whom some were given 80 mg/day of standardised lavender essential oil (Silexan). The lavender was ingested daily for 10 weeks. Concluded that Silexan is both efficacious and safe for the relief of generalised anxiety disorder.

[13]

Replacement for benzodiazepine

A group of people being treated with benzodiazepine drugs for generalised anxiety were given standardised lavender essential oil (Silexan) over a period of 6 weeks. Concluded that Silexan was both safe and as effective as lorazepam in adults with generalised anxiety disorder.

[14]

Replacement for paroxetine

A study of 539 adults with generalised anxiety disorder of whom some were given Silexan (standardised lavender essential oil) and some paroxetine (a treatment for anxiety and depression).  Concluded that Silexan is an efficacious option for patients with generalised anxiety disorder and continues to have effect after 10 weeks of treatment.  

[15]

Mixed Anxiety and Depressive Disorder

A study of 318 adults with Mixed Anxiety and Depressive Disorder (MADD). The group was separated with some being given Silexan and other a placebo for a period of 70 days. Found that patients who received Silexan showed more pronounced improvements than the placebo. Concluded that Silexan is efficacious and safe in the treatment of MADD.

[16]

Anxiety before a colonoscopy

A study of 118 patients with a scheduled colonoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy. An experimental group inhaled lavender essential oil while the control group inhaled an inert unscented oil. Found that there was no statistical change in anxiety levels as a result of lavender essential oil inhalation; however, concluded that lavender is an inexpensive and popular technique for relaxation.

[17]

Radiotherapy

A study of 313 patients undergoing radiotherapy. An experimental group was assigned to inhale lavender essential oil, bergamot and cedarwood concurrently with radiation treatment. Found that there were no significant differences between the experimental group and the control group.

[18]

Citations

[1] Itai T, Amayasu H, Kuribayashi M, Kawamura N, Okada M, Momose A, Tateyama T, Narumi K, Uematsu W, Kaneko S. Psychological effects of aromatherapy on chronic hemodialysis patients. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2000 Aug;54(4):393-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1819.2000.00727.x. PMID: 10997854.

[2] Dunn C, Sleep J, Collett D. Sensing an improvement: an experimental study to evaluate the use of aromatherapy, massage and periods of rest in an intensive care unit. J Adv Nurs. 1995 Jan;21(1):34-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.1995.21010034.x. PMID: 7897075.

[3] Buckle, J, Aromatherapy. Nurs Times 1993; 89:32-5

[4] Bradshaw RH, Marchant JN, Meredith MJ, Broom DM. Effects of lavender straw on stress and travel sickness in pigs. J Altern Complement Med. 1998 Fall;4(3):271-5. doi: 10.1089/acm.1998.4.3-271. PMID: 9764765.

[5] Alaoui-Ismaïli O, Vernet-Maury E, Dittmar A, Delhomme G, Chanel J. Odor hedonics: connection with emotional response estimated by autonomic parameters. Chem Senses. 1997 Jun;22(3):237-48. doi: 10.1093/chemse/22.3.237. PMID: 9218136.

[6] Braden R, Reichow S, Halm MA. . The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients. J Perianesth Nurs. 2009; 24 6: 348- 55. DOI: 10.1016/j.jopan.2009.10.002

[7] Cho MY, Min ES, Hur MH, Lee MS. . Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 381381 DOI: 10.1155/2013/381381

[8] Franco L, Blanck TJJ, Dugan K, Kline R, Shanmugam G, Galotti A, et al. . Both lavender fleur oil and unscented oil aromatherapy reduce preoperative anxiety in breast surgery patients: a randomized trial. J Clin Anesth. 2016; 33: 243- 9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2016.02.032

[9] Grunebaum LD, Murdock J, Castanedo-Tardan MP, Baumann LS. . Effects of lavender olfactory input on cosmetic procedures. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2011; 10 2: 89- 93. DOI: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2011.00554.x

[10] Hasanzadeh F, Kashouk NM, Amini S, et al. . The effect of cold application and lavender oil inhalation in cardiac surgery patients undergoing chest tube removal. EXCLI J. 2016; 15: 64- 74. DOI: 10.17179/excli2015-748. 

[11] Lehrner J, Marwinski G, Lehr S, Johren P, Deecke L. Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiol Behav. 2005 Sep 15;86(1-2):92-5. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2005.06.031. PMID: 16095639.

[12] Kianpour M, Mansouri A, Mehrabi T, Asghari G. Effect of lavender scent inhalation on prevention of stress, anxiety and depression in the postpartum period. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016;21(2):197-201. doi:10.4103/1735-9066.178248

[13] Kasper S, Gastpar M, Müller WE, Volz HP, Möller HJ, Dienel A, Schläfke S. Silexan, an orally administered Lavandula oil preparation, is effective in the treatment of 'subsyndromal' anxiety disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010 Sep;25(5):277-87. doi: 10.1097/YIC.0b013e32833b3242. PMID: 20512042.

[14] Woelk H, Schläfke S. A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine. 2010 Feb;17(2):94-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.10.006. Epub 2009 Dec 3. PMID: 19962288.

[15] Kasper S, Gastpar M, Müller WE, Volz HP, Möller HJ, Schläfke S, Dienel A. Lavender oil preparation Silexan is effective in generalized anxiety disorder--a randomized, double-blind comparison to placebo and paroxetine. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Jun;17(6):859-69. doi: 10.1017/S1461145714000017. Epub 2014 Jan 23. PMID: 24456909.

[16] Kasper S, Volz HP, Dienel A, Schläfke S. Efficacy of Silexan in mixed anxiety-depression--A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2016 Feb;26(2):331-340. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.12.002. Epub 2015 Dec 12. PMID: 26718792.

[17] Muzzarelli L, Force M, Sebold M. Aromatherapy and reducing preprocedural anxiety: A controlled prospective study. Gastroenterol Nurs. 2006 Nov-Dec;29(6):466-71. doi: 10.1097/00001610-200611000-00005. PMID: 17273013.

[18] Graham PH, Browne L, Cox H, Graham J. Inhalation aromatherapy during radiotherapy: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial. J Clin Oncol. 2003 Jun 15;21(12):2372-6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2003.10.126. PMID: 12805340.

Pain Relief

There are a few studies into the efficacy of lavender essential oil as a complementary treatment for pain relief.

Pain relief of patients with HIV

A study of the efficacy of aromatherapy massage in relieving pain of hospitalised children with HIV. Found that aromatherapy massage with oils, including Lavandula angustifolia, decreased the need for pain relief medication. In some cases, the persistent pain of patients was subdued entirely. Concluded, aromatherapy massage has the potential to achieve this through inducing relaxation and reducing the stressful aspects of hospitalization. 

[1]

Critical care patients

A study of 100 patients in critical care.  Lavender aromatherapy and massage was conducted on general ICU patients using the application of foot massage with lavender oil. Found that the therapeutics resulted in a 50% reduction in reported pain. 

[2]

Rheumatoid arthritis

A study of 9 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The patients were given an aromatherapy massage with Lavandula angustifolia. It was found that while no noticeable reduction in pain was reported, following the massage, patients were able to reduce their intake of pain relief medication. 

[3]

Pain relief after childbirth

A study of women after childbirth. Six drops of lavender essential oil were added to bath water daily for 10 days following childbirth to attempt to reduce perineal discomfort. The experimental group expressed no statistically significant difference in discomfort compared to the control group. Concluded, further studies might explore the effect of varying the amount of oil used or changing the mode of application.

[4]

Aromatherapy massage

A study of elderly patients living in care and exposed to an aromatherapy hand massage. Three groups of 39-40 patients from seven long-term care facilities participated two times a week for four weeks. Concluded that while hand massage was an effective way of reducing pain, it could be the case that the patients' sense of smell was contributing to a bias in the findings.  

[5]

Low back pain

A study of the effect of a combination of lavender essential oil and acupoint stimulation to treat low back pain. The experimental group were treated with eight sessions of relaxation acupoint stimulation with lavender essential oil over a three week period. Concluded, eight sessions of acupoint stimulation followed by acupressure with aromatic lavender oil were an effective method for short-term LBP relief.

[6]

Citations

[1] Styles JL. The use of aromatherapy in hospitalized children with HIV disease. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 1997 Feb;3(1):16-20. doi: 10.1016/s1353-6117(97)80029-7. PMID: 9432422.

[2] Wolfson A, Hewitt D. intensive Aromacare. International Journal of Aromatherapy. 1992;4(2):12–13

[3] Woolfson A, Intensive aromacare. Int J Aroma 1992; 4:12-14

[4] Cornwell S, Lavender oil and perineal repair. Mod Midwife 1995; 5:31-3

[5] Cino K. Aromatherapy hand massage for older adults with chronic pain living in long-term care. J Holist Nurs. 2014 Dec;32(4):304-13; quiz 314-5. doi: 10.1177/0898010114528378. Epub 2014 Apr 14. PMID: 24733781.

[6] Yip YB, Tse SH. The effectiveness of relaxation acupoint stimulation and acupressure with aromatic lavender essential oil for non-specific low back pain in Hong Kong: a randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2004 Mar;12(1):28-37. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2003.12.003. PMID: 15130569.