What Lavender Can Do for You

What Lavender Can Do for You


The health potential of lavender


  1. Lavender flower and the oil derived from it both have a long history in herbal medicine.
  2. Lavender is most commonly used in aromatherapy. Fragrance from the essential oils of the lavender plant is believed to help promote calmness and wellness.
  3. While many people swear by its aromatic healing powers, the scientific community is skeptical. Many of the tests conducted around lavender have had conflicting results.

People usually associate lavender with two specific traits: its fragrance and its color. But you may not know that the lavender flower and the oil derived from it have long histories in herbal medicine.

Read on to learn more about the health potential of lavender in aromatherapy and as a tea.

The history of lavender

Its name derives from the Latin root “lavare,” which literally means “to wash.” The earliest recorded use of lavender dates back to ancient Egypt. There, lavender oil played a role in the mummification process.

Did you know?
  • The most common form of lavender is English lavender, but there are also French, Dutch, and Portuguese varieties.
  • While the color lavender is usually light purple or bluish violet, the actual flowers can be white, blue, or pink.
  • It tends to grow in sunny, rocky areas and is native to the mountains of the Mediterranean region. It also grows in North America and Australia.

During later times, lavender became a bath additive in several regions, including Persia, ancient Greece, and Rome. These cultures believed that lavender helped purify the body and mind.

Since ancient times, lavender has been used to treat many different ailments, including:

  • mental health issues
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • headaches
  • hair loss
  • nausea
  • acne
  • toothaches
  • skin irritations
  • cancer

The many uses of lavender

Lavender is a multipurpose plant. People use lavender in many ways to promote good health and well-being.


Lavender is most commonly used in aromatherapy. The fragrance from the oils of the lavender plant is believed to help promote calmness and wellness. It’s also said to help reduce stress, anxiety, and possibly even mild pain. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that topically applying lavender, plus sage and rose, could reduce the severity of menstrual cramps.

Can it help prevent cancer?
Perillyl alcohol (POH) is derived from several different essential oils, including lavender, peppermint, cherries, sage, and lemongrass. While early evidence is conflicting, scientists are currently exploring POH's role in preventing and treating cancer.

Potential cancer and dementia help

According to the National Cancer Institute, aromatherapy can help patients manage the side effects of cancer treatment. Smell receptors send messages to the brain that can affect mood. Aromatherapy may also help adults who suffer from dementia. 

While many people swear by its aromatic healing powers, the scientific community is not so sure. Many of the tests conducted around lavender have had conflicting results.

Sleep aid

Once upon a time, lavender was recommended for people suffering from insomnia or other sleep disorders. People stuffed their pillows with lavender flowers to help them fall asleep and get a better night’s rest. 

  • The only form of lavender you should take by mouth is lavender tea. Lavender essential oil can be toxic when swallowed.
  • Lavender oil isn’t recommended for children, and may have negative developmental effects on young boys.

Today, aromatherapists use lavender to treat headaches and nervousness or restlessness. Massage therapists sometimes apply lavender oil to the skin, which might function both as a calming agent and a sleep aid. In Germany, lavender tea has been approved as a supplement to treat sleep disruptions, restlessness, and stomach irritation.

Skin and hair conditions

Topical use of lavender oil might help to treat a disease called alopecia aerate, which causes a person’s hair to fall out in patches. In one study, published in the Archives of Dermatology, people rubbed the essential oils of lavender, thyme, rosemary, and cedarwood on the areas where hair had fallen out. Some people experienced hair regrowth over the course of seven months. However, there was no way for the researchers to determine which of the oils was responsible.

When applied to the skin, lavender oils have shown positive results in helping with eczema, acne, sunburns, and diaper rash. Consider trying this chamomile-lavender body cream home remedy to help soothe irritated skin from sunburns and diaper rash.

Lavender and you

Many people have enjoyed the pleasing fragrance of lavender and used it to treat a variety of conditions. People say its uses range from helping them calm down and get a good night’s sleep to managing sleeplessness, anxiety, and menstrual cramps. Though reports from the medical experts are mixed, lavender does have many potential benefits that you might want to try.

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