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What is Lavender?

Lavender plants are aromatic evergreen small shrubs native to the Mediterranean region, the Arabian peninsula, Russia, and Africa. The plant has small blue or purple flowers. Fresh flowering tops are collected, and the essential oil is distilled or extracts are obtained by extracting with solvents. Lavender is cultivated extensively for use as a perfume, in potpourri, and as an ornamental.

Scientific Name(s)

Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula luisieri, Lavandula stoechas, Lavandula dentate, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula pubescens

Common Name(s)

Lavender also is known as aspic, common lavender, English lavender, garden lavender, lavandin (usually refers to particular hybrids), pink lavender, spike lavender, true lavender, and white lavender.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Lavender has been used for pain, bacterial and fungal infections, depression, cramps, indigestion, to promote wound healing, and as a sedative. Extracts have been used to treat conditions ranging from acne to migraines. Although the plant has been known to increase bile flow output and flow into the intestine, its greatest value is not in the treatment of liver conditions. Lavender has been used extensively for diabetes in parts of Spain and is included in some commercial herbal antidiabetic preparations. Fresh leaves and flowers are applied to the forehead to relieve headaches and to joints to treat rheumatic pain. The vapors of steamed flowers are used as a cold remedy. Chileans drink the tea to induce or increase menstrual flow.

General uses

Lavender has been used for restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, diabetes, GI distress, discomfort following childbirth, cancer, as an insect repellant, and as a food flavoring agent. However, there are limited clinical trials to support any of these uses.

What is the recommended dosage?

Aromatherapy for a bath: 6 drops (120 mg) added to 20 L of bath water or 20 to 100 g of the dried herb in 20 L of bath water. Inhalational aromatherapy: 2 to 4 drops in 2 to 3 cups (480 to 720 mL) of boiling water or used in an aromatic diffuser and inhaled. Massage: 1 to 4 drops/Tbsp (15 mL) of base or carrier oil may be used or it may be mixed with other oils.Tea: 1 to 2 tsp (5 to 10 mL) of lavender per cup (240 mL) of water. Oil for ingestion: 1 to 4 drops (20 to 80 mg), often given on a sugar cube.


Lavender should be used cautiously or avoided in patients with known allergy to lavender.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Lavender may promote menstruation, and excessive internal use should be avoided in pregnancy.


Central nervous system depressants and anticonvulsants may increase narcotic and sedative effects when given in combination with lavender-containing products. Blood-thinning drugs may increase the risk of bleeding when given at the same time as lavender. Lavender may also increase the cholesterol-lowering effects of drugs that lower cholesterol.

Side Effects

Lavender may cause allergic skin reaction and sun sensitivity. Large oral doses have been associated with nausea, vomiting, and anorexia.


A case report describes an accidental ingestion of lavandin resulting in central nervous system depression in an 18-month-old child, which returned to normal within 6 hours of ingestion.


1. Lavendar. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; August 2011.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.