Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular and versatile essential oils used in aromatherapy. Distilled from the plant Lavandula angustifolia, the oil promotes relaxation and believed to treat anxiety, fungal infections, allergies, depression, insomnia, eczema, nausea, and menstrual cramps.
In essential oil practices, lavender is a multipurpose oil. It is purported to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, hypotensive, and sedative effects
Lavender essential oil and its properties have been widely studied. Here's a look at the research.
While there's currently a lack of large-scale clinical trials testing lavender's effects on people with anxiety, a number of studies show that the oil may offer some anti-anxiety benefits.
Several studies have tested lavender's anxiety-reducing effects in specific populations. For example, a study published in Physiology & Behavior in 2005 focused on 200 people awaiting dental treatment and found that breathing in the scent of lavender both lessened anxiety and improved mood.
In addition, a pilot study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2012 indicates that lavender-essential-oil-based aromatherapy may help soothe anxiety in high-risk postpartum women. In an experiment involving 28 women who had given birth in the previous 18 months, researchers found that four weeks of twice-weekly, 15-minute-long aromatherapy sessions helped alleviate depression in addition to lowering anxiety levels.
A more recent review of the literature found 5 studies (2010, 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016) showed benefits ins participants with moderate to severe anxiety.
Several studies have shown lavender essential oil may help promote sleep and fight insomnia.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found a combination of sleep hygiene techniques and lavender essential oil therapy helped college students get a better night's sleep than sleep hygiene alone. The study of 79 students with self-reported sleep problems also found inhaling lavender at bedtime improved daytime energy and vibrancy.
A 2018 study published in Holistic Nursing Practice confirms lavender's effect on sleep. In this study of 30 residents of a nursing home, lavender aromatherapy was found to improve sleep onset, quality, and duration in an elderly population