After a long, hard day, you might be tempted to reach for a glass of wine.

While there’s evidence a glass of red wine may offer some benefits, there’s an herb that you can grow in your garden that can help ease anxiety and relax your mind — all without the hangover.

Lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, is one of the most common flowers and essential oils used in aromatherapy because of its relaxing properties. It’s often touted for its calming effects on the mind, especially when used as a sleeping aid. Some research has found it to be beneficial in aiding restless sleepers get much needed sleep. Chefs often make use of lavender honey, or use the petals to garnish salads.

Although lavender extract can be sold as a health supplement in the United States, it’s not approved to treat any specific condition.

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The most common way lavender is consumed is by brewing a tea from its buds. Brewing lavender buds into a tea helps release the oils and scents. There some small studies that suggest that inhaling its scent my lead to better sleep (1, 2).

How to make it

Making your own lavender tea is fairly easy:

  1. Boil 8 oz. of water.
  2. Place 4 tsp. of fresh lavender buds into a tea ball or sachet.
  3. Place the tea ball and water into a teacup.
  4. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Try growing some in your garden and brewing yourself a cup before bedtime for a restful sleep. If fresh lavender buds aren’t available to you, dried lavender buds also work.

Note: Do not ever try to make lavender tea with essential oil. This can be extremely dangerous.

Among the positive things that lavender has been linked to is improvement of mental health, including helping to relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia (3, 4, 5).

There’s also some evidence that lavender can treat canker sores, the hair loss condition alopecia, and be used in a bath to treat circulation disorders (6, 7, 8).

The National Institutes of Health does warn about its use in pregnant women as little known of its safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding (9).

One study found some young boys who used lavender developed gynecomastia, or enlarged breast tissue. When those boys stopped consuming lavender, the condition went away (10, 11).

Also, people who have sensitive skin or allergies, should check with their doctor before using lavender, as it may trigger an allergic reaction in some people (9, 12, 13).