Lavender (Lavendula augustifolia) is a flowering plant that has been used for over 2000 years as an essential oil and used in foods to treat health concerns. The amount of evidence for lavender health benefits is actually quite remarkable when you put it all together. However, many websites claim that lavender essential oil uses are seemingly endless. Is this based in research? Let’s explore the scientifically proven lavender essential oil uses that we can apply today.
In my recent blog about lavender, I described its historical uses, calming effects, practical recipes, and applications. Lavender really is calming and can help anxiety symptoms.
A Note About Lavender Research
I am truly amazed at what scientists have accomplished, but also sad that the majority of their research work has not been put into general use, even when proven safe and effective.
This science often disappears into a sea of research archives. This isespecially true for plants and foods like lavender.
It may take over 15 years for a great, life-changing research project that could move the dial on your health to reach mainstream attention.
One person, and one reader at a time, I aim to change this.
When I blog, I feel like I open a new window into the vast and largely untapped world of research.
Lavender Essential Oil Treats Many Kinds of Pain
Did you know that lavender use for many types of pain has been proven beneficial? Read on to learn more about specific studies of lavender benefits for pain relief.
I cite randomized, placebo-controlled trials, the most rigorous type of human research.
Arthritic pain is challenging to treat because prescription drugs for pain carry high risks for health. In contrast, lavender oil is quite safe. In a study of knee osteoarthritis, lavender oil massage was helpful at reducing pain compared to placebo.
2. Menstrual Pain and Bleeding
Menstrual pain is also difficult to treat. Natural options like lavender are really proving beneficial to help reduce the discomfort and reduced quality of life for women suffering with this condition.
Both topical and inhaled lavender essential oil have been used in research. Lavender oil not only reduced pain, it reduced the amount ofbleeding when inhaled lavender was used.
3. Surgical Pain
Lavender oil reduced pain compared to placebo for placement of IV lines prior to surgery (r).
In children undergoing removal of tonsils, use of lavender oil reduced the amount of pain-relieving medication that was required compared to placebo (r).
Lavender oil, when infused with oxygen, reduced pain after heart surgery (Coronary artery bypass grafting) (r).
Topical lavender oil was able to reduce pain at the needle insertion site for patients receiving dialysis treatments (r).
4. Lavender Reduces Labor Pains
Lavender essential oil use during childbirth also reduced pain during childbirth in 120 pregnant women (r).
5. Lavender Oil for Migraines
Inhaled lavender over a 15 minute period was able to reduce migraine severity. The effectiveness of lavender oil was over double the effectiveness of placebo. The total number of responders to lavender was also greater than placebo (R).
How Does Lavender Work For Pain?
Essential oils like lavender stimulate the receptors in the nose and transfer the messages to the brain, resulting in endorphin and serotonin release, which results in the sense of relaxation (antispasmodic effects), and improves localized blood flow (r).
When women received lavender oil scent, it resulted in both calming and arousal effects as shown by PET scans.
They had activation of the orbitofrontal part of the brain responsible for executive function but also part of the “primal” brain or posterior cingulate gyrus, among other areas. This is responsible for emotion, memory and arousal (R)
6. Lavender Reduces Infectious Microbes
While very few clinical trials of lavender have been conducted for the treatment of various infections in humans, over 7 research studies have found lavender to be effective against numerous strains of bacterial and fungal strains.
It has synergistic effects when combined with 44 other plant oils against bacteria, especially when combined with camellia sinensis, also known as tea (R).
Further, lavender antimicrobial effects against both gram negative and gram positive bacteria e.coli and s. aureus (Staphylococcus) were strong (r).
7. Canker Sores
According to the Mayo Clinic, canker sore causes include:
- A minor injury to your mouth from dental work, overzealous brushing, sports mishaps or an accidental cheek bite
- Toothpastes and mouth rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate
- Food sensitivities, particularly to chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese, and spicy or acidic foods
- A diet lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron
- An allergic response to certain bacteria in your mouth
- Helicobacter pylori, the same bacteria that cause peptic ulcers
- Hormonal shifts during menstruation
- Emotional stress
Lavender essential oil is complex and can help manage canker sores due to its pain-relieving, hormone-balancing, and antimicrobial benefits.
In research, people using topical lavender for canker sores resulted in a reduction in inflammation level, ulcer size, healing time, as well as a reduction in pain and growth of bacteria (r).
Lavender has known antimicrobial effects as well as pain-relieving properties, so it is a logical choice in helping manage cases of shingles.
Case reports by Calene Van Noy, RD:
I gave 3 people, who came down with shingles, a blend of Lavender and Frankincense, and all 3 said they felt relief when they used the blend topically on the shingles rash. All were so grateful for the relief. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to reach out and help friends and family with a natural solution.
9. Head lice
Standard head lice treatments not only are dangerous chemicals, they have very little benefit to treat these persistent bugs! Lavender and other essential oils may be what the doctor ordered.
A combination of lavender oil and melaleuca oil (97% effective) wasMUCH more effective than standard over-the-counter treatments (25% effective)
Tea tree oil and lavender oil are the two most effective essential oils for treatment of head lice (r).
10. Hair Loss
Over-the-counter hair loss treatments are expensive and have unwanted side effects. Natural options are proving beneficial and are much more economical.
A combination of topical essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood) resulted in improved hair regrowth in people with hair loss (r).
Colic is very challenging to treat and parents often think they have no options. Research is proving that they do have tools they can use.
Abdominal massage with lavender essential oil reduced colic symptoms compared to controls in 40 infants (r).
12. Lavender for Wounds
In a clinic setting, for treatment of long-term wounds, one physician used topical lavender oil and German chamomile oil on 5 patients compared to 3 controls. Of the five receiving the oils, 4 had complete healing and the 5th was mostly healed (R).
In mice, lavender oil used topically was able to enhance collagen amounts and fibroblast differentiation, and ultimately speed up wound healing (r).
13. Lavender and Testosterone
Hormones like testosterone can be reduced due to toxic exposures and stress. Lavender oil stress benefits are proven.
Lavender also helped protect production of testosterone in rats after exposure to formaldehyde, a known toxin that reduces hormones (R)
Using lavender essential oils or supplements
Be sure to read the blog about lavender uses and dosing.
If you are cooking with or eating lavender essential oils, make sure you find a high-quality form that is Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade.
Apply: a little bit of oil goes a long way. Use 1-2 drops of Doterralavender oil in your favorite oil, such as fractionated coconut oil and apply to area of concern.
Diffuse lavender oil in your office and home space to cleanse the air and promote feelings of relaxation.
Ingest Doterra lavender oil 1 to 2 drops in an empty gelcap for relaxation and pain relief. Do not substitute other brands; they are not safe for ingestion.
Use a single drop of Doterra lavender in your favorite beverage or add to melted chocolate for a delicious lavender flavor.
Lavender is generally recognized as safe. As with anything, check with your healthcare provider before increasing the amount of supplemental lavender you take.
Use of essential oils are often used in combinations because they have synergistic actions (have a bigger effect than when either is used alone).
If you are allergic to lavender (develop a rash), please avoid its use.
A word of caution: a few case reports of prepubertal boys using lavender for extended periods of time noted gynecomastia. This reversed after stopping the use of lavender (7). Gynecomastia is a common symptom for boys during puberty, with or without lavender.
Lavender is a highly versatile herb with the potential for vast health benefits.
It has stood the test of time for its antimicrobial benefits, calming benefits, pain relief, and more as even ancient Romans knew of its healing properties.
Essential Oil Tip:
Essential Oils also can have natural antihistamine benefits!
Want to learn more?
Essential oil consults are free. Contact The Healthy RD
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling root causes of illness.