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.

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.

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.

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.

Benefits and Uses of Lavender Tea and Extracts

Lavender tea is made by brewing the purple buds of the Lavandula angustifolia plant with hot water.

This tea is thought to calm nerves, lead to better sleep, improve skin health, and provide many other benefits, though research is scarce and mostly focuses on lavender extracts.

Here are 4 possible benefits of lavender tea and extract, and the science behind them.

  •  May improve mood disorders

Lavender is widely used as an aromatherapy agent and supplement to help with anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

Studies suggest that compounds in lavender may stimulate activity in certain areas of the brain and influence the transmission of impulses between brain cells in ways that boost mood and produce a calming effect (1).

While both the scent of lavender extract and oral lavender oil preparations have been shown to improve mood and calm the mind, it’s less clear if lavender tea can offer similar benefits (1).

One study in 80 new mothers in Taiwan found that those who drank 1 cup (250 mL) of lavender tea per day for 2 weeks while taking time to appreciate the tea’s aroma reported less fatigue and depression, compared with those who didn’t smell and drink the tea (2).

However, there were similar reports of fatigue and depression between the two groups after 4 weeks, suggesting that benefits are most helpful early on. (2).


Lavender aromatherapy and oil preparations have been shown to help calm nerves and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. Some research suggests that lavender tea may have a similar effect.

  • May boost sleep

The calming effect of lavender in the body is also thought to boost sleep.

There are no specific studies on lavender tea’s effect on sleep quality, but studies on other types of lavender are promising.

One study in 158 new mothers in the postpartum period found that women who took 10 deep breaths of lavender fragrance 4 days a week for 8 weeks had significantly better sleep quality than those in the placebo group (3).

Another study on 79 college students who reported sleep issues showed that proper sleep hygiene and breathing in lavender improved sleep quality. Lavender patches were applied to the chest at night (4).

Based on these results, it’s possible that enjoying a cup of lavender tea to unwind before bed could help you have better sleep.

This may be especially true if you take time to appreciate and breathe in the scent, as research on lavender fragrance suggests.


Research suggests that the calming fragrance of lavender extract may also promote better sleep, but there have been no specific studies on the effect of lavender tea.

  • May soothe menstrual cramping

Cramping in the lower abdomen before or during a menstrual period is a common issue among women.

Lavender may help with feelings of discomfort.

Specifically, one study in 200 young adult women in Iran found that smelling lavender for 30 minutes per day in the first 3 days of a menstrual cycle led to significantly less painful cramping after 2 months, compared with the control group (5).

Other research suggests that massage with lavender essential oil also helps with menstrual cramping, but there have been no studies on the ingestion of lavender in tea or supplements (6).

Still, drinking lavender tea and appreciating its scent may help, though more extensive research is needed.


Breathing in lavender essential oil or using it in massage may help with menstrual cramping. There have been no studies on whether drinking lavender tea has a similar effect, but it’s possible.

  • May improve skin health

Lavender oil has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects (789).

As a result, it’s used in topical applications to help fight acne, improve inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, and heal wounds or abrasions.

One study in rats found that topical application of lavender oil every other day for 14 days significantly decreased the area of wounds, compared with the control group. This is mainly because lavender oil promoted the synthesis of the structural protein collagen (10).

These results suggest that certain forms of lavender may promote skin healing and collagen formation.


Research indicates that certain types of lavender, such as oil, may exhibit anti-inflammatory effects and help promote skin healing.

How to make lavender tea and possible precautions

Though solid research on lavender tea is scarce, drinking a cup of this tea can be soothing and may offer some benefits.

To make lavender tea, you can steep store-bought tea bags in hot water or brew your own. Pour 1 cup (250 mL) of water over 1/2 teaspoon of loose lavender buds, and let it steep for a few minutes.

As with most herbal teas, there are some precautions to consider with lavender tea.

There has been at least one case report of developing an abnormally rapid heartbeat after drinking lavender tea (11).

In terms of lavender extracts, they’re available in oil and supplement forms. There are no standardized doses for supplements, and lavender oils should be used with caution. Lavender oil shouldn’t be ingested.

For topical use, mix a few drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, before rubbing it into your skin. You may also want to do a patch test to see how your skin reacts to the diluted lavender oil before using it more freely.

Don’t apply undiluted lavender oil to your skin, as this can cause irritation and inflammation. It’s important to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil before applying topically.

To use lavender oil for aromatherapy, put a few drops on a cotton ball or tissue and inhale. You can also use an essential oil diffuser.

Due to its possible effects on the nervous system, talk to your healthcare provider before using any form of lavender if you have any heart conditions, underlying health conditions, or take medications.

It’s unknown whether lavender oils or teas are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.


You can easily make lavender tea at home or use lavender oils for aromatherapy and massage. However, speak with your healthcare provider before using lavender if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an underlying health condition.

Bottom line:

Lavender tea and extracts may help promote sleep, skin health, boost mood, and soothe anxiety.

However, there’s almost no research on the possible benefits of the tea specifically. If anything, appreciating the smell of lavender tea may have the most potential benefit, as most studies point to lavender’s use in aromatherapy.

Still, drinking lavender tea can be soothing and a great way to unwind.

Shop for lavender tea or extracts online.

Lavender and skin

Lavender oil is an essential oil derived from the lavender plant. It can be taken orally, applied to the skin, and breathed in through aromatherapy.

Lavender oil can benefit the skin in numerous ways. It has the ability to lessen acne, help lighten skin, and reduce wrinkles. It can even be used to treat other things, like improving hair health and digestion.

Lavender oil for acne

Lavender oil works to kill bacteria, and this can prevent and heal acne breakouts. It unclogs pores and reduces inflammation when you put it on your skin. To use lavender oil for acne, dilute it in coconut oil or another carrier oil and apply it to your skin after washing your face.

You can also use lavender oil as a facial toner by mixing two drops of lavender oil with one teaspoon of witch hazel. Soak a cotton ball in the blend and then gently rub it over your face. For a particularly stubborn pimple, argan oil can help reduce inflammation. Mix one drop of lavender oil with a drop of argan oil and put it directly onto a pimple twice a day.

Soothes eczema and dry skin

Eczema can show up anywhere on your body. With eczema, your skin gets dry, itchy, and scaly. It can appear mild or chronic and in multiple locations. Since lavender has antifungal properties and reduces inflammation, it can help keep eczema at bay.

Lavender oil can also be used to treat psoriasis. The lavender oil helps cleanse your skin and lessen redness and irritation.

To use this essential oil for eczema, mix two drops with an equal amount of tea tree oil, along with two teaspoons of coconut oil. You can use it daily.

Lavender oil skin lightening

Lavender oil can aid in skin lightening since it reduces inflammation. It can reduce discoloration, including dark spots. Lavender oil helps lessen blotchiness and redness. If you have hyperpigmentation on your skin, lavender oil may be able to help with that as well.

Lavender oil for face wrinkles

Free radicals are partly responsible for fine lines and wrinkles on the face. Lavender oil is full of antioxidants, which help protect you from the free radicals. To use lavender oil for wrinkles, use a few drops of the essential oil along with coconut oil. The mixture can be used as a moisturizer once or twice a day.

Anti-inflammatory ability

Painful inflammation can be treated with lavender oil. The oil’s pain-relieving and numbing effects help soothe the inflammation, while the beta-caryophyllene in the oil also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.

To treat the inflammation on a burn, combine one to three drops of lavender oil and one to two teaspoons of moringa or coconut oil. You can apply the mixture three times a day.

If you have a sunburn, a lavender oil spray can help. In a spray bottle, combine a quarter cup of aloe vera juice, 2 tablespoons of distilled water, 10 to 12 drops of lavender oil and jojoba oil. Shake the bottle and spray onto your sunburn. Use the spray two or three times a day until the sunburn heals.

Wound-healing properties

If you have a burn, cut, scrape, or another wound, lavender oil may help speed up the wound-healing process. In a 2016 study, researchers found that lavender oil promotes the healing of skin tissue.

To use lavender oil on small wounds, mix three or four drops of lavender oil together with a few drops of coconut or tamanu oil. Apply the mixture on your wound with a cotton ball. If your wound has already healed, lavender oil can reduce remaining scars as well.

Insect repellent

Lavender oil does double duty for insect bites. It acts as an insect repellent, and it can relieve itching after a bite occurs. Many commercial mosquito repellents contain lavender oil.

Both candles and sprays can be used to repel mosquitos and other bugs. You can add seven drops to the candle and put it outdoors. For a spray, mix eight ounces of water and four drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle and shake it. Because it’s a natural remedy, you can spray it on your body and your clothes before you go outside.

Insect bites cause redness, itching, and pain. They can sometimes become infected. Lavender oil helps relieve insect bites by warding off bacteria and reducing inflammation. It also naturally helps relieve pain.

To treat an insect bite with lavender oil, mix one or two drops with a carrier oil, like coconut. Put the mixture on the bite twice a day or more. If your pain stings, a drop of peppermint oil mixed in can help numb it.

Lavender oil also works well for treating poison ivy.

How to use lavender oil for skin

How you use lavender oil depends on what you’re treating. You can put it on your skin with or without a carrier oil to form a lotion. If you’re putting it on a damaged part of your skin, it’s often best to use a cotton ball, which is cleaner than your fingers. For wrinkles and dry skin, you can apply the oil directly with your hands.

Lavender oil can also be ingested in pill form, or used as steam for aromatherapy. While lavender oil is relatively safe, it can cause discomfort for some. Stop using the oil if you experience any negative side effects.

Bottom line:

Lavender oil has many uses for treating the skin. It naturally reduces inflammation, lessens pain, and cleans the surface of the skin. You can use lavender oil on your face, legs, and hands.

If you experience any side effects from using the oil, such as a skin rash, stop use and talk to a doctor.

Does lavender oil have side effects?

Make sure not to apply too much oil to scalp or products. Too much essential oil can irritate the skin. To avoid this, always use with a carrier oil when using plain oils.

If, despite using carrier oils, you get a rash, hives, or dermatitis, stop use immediately. It may be a sign that you’re allergic to lavender. Many people are.

Never ingest plain essential oils or get them in your eyes. If you accidentally get them in your eyes, wash your eyes out immediately with cool water.

Be cautious using or inhaling lavender if you take nervous system sedatives or depressants. There are known interactions with these medications that may exaggerate sleepiness or drowsiness. Other interactions are unknown.

Other than these considerations, using diluted lavender essential oil topically is perfectly safe.

Bottom line:

Lavender oil can be a safe and valuable add-on to your hair care regimen. Studies show it may promote hair growth and prevent thinning.

It may also have other perks for overall scalp and hair health. There are also many ways to apply it to your hair or use it with (or in) your favorite products.

Just make sure to use it correctly and consider any possible side effects.

Written by Joe Bowman — Updated on December 18, 2016
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Photo Credit: Claire Gray

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