Lavender is like the Whitney Houston of floral scents — a go-to that basically everyone from your grandma to your BFF can’t help but love.
But not only does this botanical winner smell and taste like a delish springtime picnic, lavender has different uses with a variety of health benefits.
How can you use lavender?
You eat, drink, inhale, or topically apply lavender in a few different forms to reap its benefits:
- Soothe sleep problems with aromatherapy or a cup of lavender tea.
- Ease anxiety with aromatherapy or lavender capsules.
- Inhale or use lavender topically for headaches and migraines.
- Sip lavender tea or try aromatherapy to help reduce stress and depression symptoms.
- Apply lavender topically for skin health.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
1. Try aromatherapy or tea for sleep probs
If you toss and turn all night, it might be time to wake up and smell the lavender with the help of a diffuser or a cup of lavender tea.
According to a 2014 review of 15 studies, inhaling essential oils including lavender had beneficial effects on those with mild to moderate sleep disturbances.
In a 2015 study, researchers found that those who used lavender aromatherapy reported feeling more refreshed upon waking.
2. Ease anxiety with aromatherapy or lavender capsules
There may be a reason lavender and bubble baths go together — they’re both standout ingredients of an anxiety-busting regimen.
In a large 2019 study, researchers found that people with anxiety disorders who took 160 mg lavender oil capsules daily over a period of 6 to 10 weeks experienced significant decreases in symptoms.
In a 2015 study of 60 patients in an intensive care unit, researchers concluded that those treated with lavender essential oil experienced lower anxiety levels and better sleep.
In a 2017 study, researchers concluded that given its safety and efficacy, there’s a role in using lavender oil for anxiety disorders.
🚨 Be wary of lavender oil capsules 🚨
Essential oils like lavender should NEVER be taken internally unless specifically recommended by your doctor. They can actually be extremely harmful when taken internally.
Before taking any lavender capsules always get the A-OK from your doctor.
3. Inhale or use lavender topically for headaches and migraine
Lavender is one of many essential oils used for headaches. For a throbbing noggin, consider rubbing some diluted lavender essential oil on your temples to breathe in the scent.
In a 2016 study, people with migraine who underwent 3 months of lavender therapy scored lower on a headache assessment scale than the control group.
In a 2012 study, researchers had 47 participants with migraine inhale lavender essential oil for 15 mins. Afterward, they reported reduced headache severity and frequency.
While more research may be needed before we can conclude that breathing in some lavender oil can combat migraine attacks and headaches, it just might be worth a sniff.
4. Sip some lavender tea or try aromatherapy to help stress or depression symptoms
If you’re stressed or depressed, some limited research suggests that a little lavender might help.
In a small 2016 study of postpartum women, researchers found that lavender aromatherapy reduced stress, anxiety, and depression post-delivery.
Another small study from 2015 of patients with kidney disease found that those who inhaled lavender for 1 hour during treatment had lower levels of depression and stress than those who didn’t.
In a small 2020 study, older adults who sipped on lavender tea 2 times a day for 2 weeks experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression.
So whether you sip it or smell it, lavender just might help soothe the blues. But more research is needed before we can say that it treats clinical depression or stress.
5. Apply lavender topically to aid a variety of skin conditions
Research suggests that lavender oil may be an effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions, maybe due to its gentle antibacterial properties. More specifically, lavender oil *might* help treat acne by killing bacteria that leads to breakouts.
A 2020 review of 20 studies concluded that lavender oil increases the rate of wound healing, promotes collagen growth, and boosts the skin’s natural tissue remodeling process. This might help heal and improve the look of acne scars.
Lavender oil also contains two inflammation-fighting compounds: linalool and linalyl acetate. A 2020 study found that these compounds may help psoriasis-like inflammation.
Psst: Always do a patch test and dilute with a carrier oil when applying lavender essential oil directly to your skin. The straight-up essential oil can cause irritation. Plus, some folks may experience an eczema-like reaction (aka contact dermatitis) from any lavender, even if it’s diluted.
So, should you sip it, sniff it, or swallow it? Lavender can be used in a variety of ways to get the most out of its health benefits and medicinal uses. It also can just be a tasty or fragrant addition to life.
Here’s how to use lavender to get your daily dose of this bomb botanical:
Flower. Once you rinse off these bright purple flowers, you can pop them right in your salad, lemonade, or soup. They’re also perfect for drying and adding to potpourri or a fresh load of laundry.
Essential oil. Lavender’s a star of aromatherapy for a reason. To reap its calming benefits, simply inhale its alluring scent straight from the bottle or consider using an essential oil diffuser. You can also pour a few drops into a spray bottle with some distilled water and witch hazel, and spritz it on your pillow for super sweet dreams.
Topical oil. Mix lavender essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut, olive, or jojoba. It’s great to rub on your wrists, neck, or temples. Talk with your doc before applying lavender oil topically (especially if pregnant), and always do a patch test first.
Capsules. Lavender-infused herbal supplements are available online or at drug and health food stores. Like with any supplement, talk with your doctor before using and take them as directed.
Tea. A cup of steaming lavender tea just might be the perfect nightcap. Buy this fave sleepy tea store or steep 1/2 teaspoon of dried lavender buds in 1 to 2 cups of hot water.
Lotions. Lavender lotion, cream, or salve can be a skin savior. Pick one up from your fave skin care destination or simply add a few drops of essential oil to an unscented base: think coconut oil or body lotion.
Beauty. Hit up any beauty supply store and you’ll find a host of lavender-infused face masks, cleansers, soap, and shampoos. Just make sure the ingredient list actually contains real lavender and not just lavender “fragrance.”
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says the lavender flower is likely safe for most folks to nosh on. So, for most peeps sipping on lavender tea or using lavender in food is A-OK.
But never straight up swallow lavender essential oil. Essential oils can be toxic if ingested and may cause probs like severe stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
You also won’t want to apply lavender essential oil directly to the skin, which may cause irritation. Use a carrier to dilute it with a carrier (like coconut oil or a lotion base) before applying. Some peeps do have allergic reactions to lavender, so always play it safe by doing a patch test first.
In certain cases, you may want to avoid lavender in all forms. Get a healthcare professional’s blessing before using lavender if:
- You take medications to aid sleep.
- You’re taking medication to lower blood pressure (like captopril, enalapril, and losartan).
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding. There’s not much research about lavender’s safety when pregnant or feeding your babe, so consult your doc and play it safe.
According to some research, the peaceful fragrance of lavender may help treat anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep problems, and a variety of skin conditions.
While more research needs to be done to prove it’s completely effective, it’s a pretty low-risk remedy that is likely worth a whiff. Invite a little healing into your life by steeping some dried lavender buds as a tea or diffusing some lavender essential oil.
Just don’t ingest or apply the essential oil directly to your skin. And always check with a healthcare professional before adding any lavender supplements to your routine.