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Lavender

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What other names is Lavender known by?

Alhucema, Common Lavender, English Lavender, French Lavender, Garden Lavender, Huile Essentielle de Lavande, Lavanda, Lavande, Lavande à Feuilles Étroites, Lavande Anglaise, Lavande Commune, Lavande des Alpes, Lavande du Jardin, Lavande Espagnole, Lavande Fine, Lavande Française, Lavande Officinale, Lavande Vraie, Lavandula, Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula dentate, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula pubescens, Lavandula spica, Lavandula stoechas, Lavandula vera, Lavender Essential Oil, Ostokhoddous, Spanish Lavender, Spike Lavender, True Lavender.

What is Lavender?

Lavender is an herb. The flower and the oil of lavender are used to make medicine.

Lavender is used for restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, and depression. It is also used for a variety of digestive complaints including meteorism (abdominal swelling from gas in the intestinal or peritoneal cavity), loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas (flatulence), and upset stomach.

Some people use lavender for painful conditions including migraine headaches, toothaches, sprains, nerve pain, sores, and joint pain. It is also used for acne and cancer, and to promote menstruation.

Lavender is applied to the skin for hair loss (alopecia areata) and pain, and to repel mosquitoes and other insects.

Some people add lavender to bathwater to treat circulation disorders and improve mental well being.

By inhalation, lavender is used as aromatherapy for insomnia, pain, and agitation related to dementia.

In foods and beverages, lavender is used as a flavor component.

In manufacturing, lavender is used in pharmaceutical products and as a fragrance ingredient in soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, potpourri, and decorations.

Lavender (scientific name Lavandula angustifolia) is commonly contaminated with related species, including Lavandula hybrida, which is a cross between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia, from which lavandin oil is obtained.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Hair loss in a condition called alopecia areata. There is some evidence that applying lavender oil in combination with oils from thyme, rosemary, and cedarwood might improve hair growth by as much as 44% after 7 months of treatment.
  • Anxiety. Some research shows that taking lavender oil by mouth for 6-10 weeks improves anxiety and sleep and prevents anxiety recurrence in people with mild-to-severe anxiety. However, lavender does not seem to be more effective than the anti-anxiety medication lorazepam (Ativan). So far, early studies disagree about the effectiveness of using lavender oil as aromatherapy for treating anxiety.
  • Canker sores. Some research shows that applying two drops of lavender oil to the affected area three times daily can improve canker sore healing and reduce canker sore swelling and pain.
  • Fall prevention. There is some evidence that attaching a pad with lavender oil onto the neckline of clothing reduces falls in nursing home residents.
  • Pain after Cesarean section (C-section). Some research suggests that inhaling lavender essence while receiving pain killers intravenously (by IV) can help reduce pain in women after a C-section.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Cancer-related pain. Some research shows that using lavender oil for aromatherapy massage does not reduce pain in people with cancer-related pain.
  • Dementia. Applying lavender oil to the collar of clothing or using lavender oil for aromatherapy massage does not seems to improve mental function in people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
  • Complications after childbirth. Most research shows that adding lavender oil to baths does not improve pain in the area between the vagina and anus after childbirth. However, some evidence suggests that lavender oil baths might reduce this pain immediately (within 12 hours) after childbirth.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Agitation. There is conflicting evidence on the efficacy of lavender aromatherapy for agitation. Some evidence suggests that lavender aromatherapy improves agitation in people with Alzheimer's disease, while other evidence shows no effect.
  • Itchy and inflamed skin (eczema). Early research shows that using a combination of lavender oil and other herbal essential oils for aromatherapy massage does not improve skin irritation in children with itchy and inflamed skin.
  • Colic. Results from a small research study show that massaging a combination of lavender and almond oils into the belly of infants for 5-15 minutes at the onset of colic reduces crying time.
  • Constipation. Early research shows that massaging a combination of lavender, lemon, rosemary, and cypress oils onto the stomach might improve symptoms of constipation.
  • Depression. There are conflicting results regarding the effects of lavender oil aromatherapy for treating depression. Some research suggests that lavender oil aromatherapy massage does not improve depression in cancer patients. Other research shows that it might improve mood in women experiencing depression after childbirth (post-partum depression). Early research suggests that taking lavender oil by mouth for 6 weeks might improve depression in people with depression. Tincture of lavender appears to be slightly less effective than the medication imipramine (Tofranil) for treating depression, but taking the two in combination might improve the antidepressant effects of imipramine.
  • Menstrual pain. Lavender oil massages might reduce pain associated with menstruation in young women better than regular massages.
  • High blood pressure. Early research suggests that using an essential oil mixture of lavender, lemon, and ylang ylang as aromatherapy might reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
  • Sleeplessness (insomnia). Early research suggests that using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight, or on a gauze pad left beside the bed, might help some people with mild insomnia sleep better.
  • Lice. Early research suggests that applying a combination of lavender and tea tree oil to the skin helps kill lice eggs and reduce the number of live lice. It is unclear if the effects are caused by lavender alone or the combination of lavender and tea tree oil.
  • Migraine. Early research suggests that rubbing 2 or 3 drops of lavender oil on the upper lip, so that the vapor is inhaled, might reduce migraine pain and nausea, and help stop the headache spreading.
  • Ear infections. Early research suggests that administering ear drops containing lavender and other herbal extracts improves ear pain in people with ear infections. However, this herbal combination does not appear to be more effective than using a skin-numbing agent along with the antibiotic amoxicillin.
  • General psychological well-being. Some research suggests that adding 3 mL of a 20% lavender oil and 80% grapeseed oil mixture to daily baths produces small improvements in mood, compared with baths containing grapeseed oil alone. However, other research suggests that adding lavender oil to aromatherapy massage does not improve well-being or quality of life in cancer patients.
  • Wound healing. Early research suggests that using lavender oil as aromatherapy during bandage changes does not reduce pain in people with vascular wounds.
  • Headache.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Toothache.
  • Acne.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Cancer.
  • Use as a mosquito repellent and insect repellent.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate lavender for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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