What To Know About The Wellness Benefits Of Lavender

All flowers are beautiful in their own way, but few can spark a chemical reaction in the brain like lavender. An evergreen plant native to the Mediterranean, lavender thrives in warm and sunny weather. Lavender flowers bear a lighter shade of purple, emanating a sweet and woodsy smell with subtle notes of medicinal camphor. One sniff of lavender can engender an instant sense of tranquility and put you in a calmer state of mind. Theoretically speaking, the scent molecules of lavender oil — when inhaled directly — will travel from the nerves in your nose to the brain, thereby impacting your physiological functions.

Throughout history, the oils extracted from the crushed flowers of lavender plants have been used for the production of essential oils, perfumes, and candles — so people can fill their living space with the lavender smell. Celebrities like Ariana Grande, Jenna Dewan, and Miranda Kerr habitually use lavender oil to relax and aid sleep. Speaking to The Goodnight Co. about her nighttime self-care routine, Miranda Kerr shared that she would mist her face and pillow with a soothing lavender mist for a deep sleep. In fact, the benefits of lavender go beyond its therapeutic scent. Turns out, incorporating lavender into your aromatherapy, bedroom decor, and diets can yield a far-reaching impact on your mind as well as your intestines. Here are some insights into the unexpected wellness benefits of lavender.

Lavender can improve sleep quality

Lavender essential oil, mist, or candle makes an excellent sleep aid. Numerous pharmacological deep dives have proved that lavender essential oils contain sedative, mind-quieting properties that boost relaxation and help alleviate sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleepwalking. In a 2015 study published in the journal Nursing in Critical Care, patients who inhaled 2% lavender essential oil for 15 days reported better sleep quality and decreased anxiety among those with coronary artery disease compared to those who did not. The soothing effect of lavender scent can not only help you ease into sleep more easily but can also help you stay longer in a deep, slow-wave sleep, The Sleep Doctor points out.

If you habitually toss and turn throughout the night, spritz your face and neck with a soothing lavender face mist or apply a few drops of lavender oil to your pillow an hour or so before bedtime. Or, you can light a lavender-scented candle by your bedside (but blow out the candle before you fall asleep). Beware: you can inhale or apply essential oil directly to your skin, but you should never ingest it. If you want to take lavender oil orally, you can try the lavender oil pills specifically manufactured for oral use — like Seremind — or drink lavender tea.

Lavender oil can heal minor injuries

Naturally loaded with anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-bacterial agents, lavender can be used as a temporary fix for minor skin injuries. Lavender oils can be used to clean wounds and scrapes, facilitate the healing of skin cuts and burns, relieve itching, as well as minimize scarring, per Heliotrope. According to an experiment published in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies that involves using lavender oil on wounded rats, topical application of lavender oil to the skin facilitates the healing of skin tissue and promotes wound closure. Containing a non-toxic fragrance compound called linalool, lavender oils or pest-control products containing lavender scent can also do double duty as an insect repellent for bugs like mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, ants, and fleas.

However, when it comes to a severe infection, it's wise to seek medical attention or commercial products designed for wound care instead of pouring lavender oil on your wound. Just because lavender oil is a naturally derived plant material doesn't mean that it's completely safe on all types of skin. In point of fact, lavender has been reported to cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), characterized by an itchy rash and dark-colored, leathery patches on the skin. On that note, if you have acne breakouts, speak to your dermatologist for advice on spot treatments instead of indiscriminately applying lavender products to your face.

Inhaling lavender oil reduces stress

Aromatherapy involving the use of lavender essential oils has shown considerable effects in relieving everyday stress and anxieties as well as reducing the perception of body pain. Integrative medicine specialist Dr. Yufang Lin from Cleveland Clinic explains that "Lavender is known for its ability to calm the nervous system, lift the mood and even lower blood pressure." There are numerous studies to back up this claim. In a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, seven participants aged 20 to 40 who had inhaled a dose of lavender oil for 20 minutes scored lower on the Self-Rating Depression Scale. Researchers in the study concluded that lavender oil might be useful in alleviating depressive mood and could be used as a therapy for stress relief.

While you can get a good dose of mind-calming lavender scent from essential oils, bathing oils, and moisturizers, Dr. Weil suggests taking lavender ingestibles — like an 80 mg softgel of lavender extract or lavender tea infused with dried lavender flowers once or twice a day — for better management of stress and depressive symptoms.

Lavender oil can prevent hair loss

Having been shown to promote hair growth and improve the symptoms of alopecia, lavender can be a wonderful addition to your hair care regimen. Physician Dr. Sunitha Posina tells Coveteur that "Lavender has anti-microbial properties which can help promote a cleaner scalp, which is essential for proper hair growth to take place."

In a controlled trial published in the journal Archives of Dermatological Research, 86 patients affected by alopecia areata were randomized into two groups: one massaged their scalps daily with essential oils containing lavender, and the other used carrier oils without lavender oil. After seven months, 44% of the patients who used lavender oils on their scalp showed improvements in hair growth.

Not only can lavender oil help with hair growth, but it can also keep lice at bay, prevent dandruff, and minimize inflammation on the scalp. To achieve lustrous and voluminous tresses, you can apply a small amount of lavender oil mixed with tea oil to your hair like you normally do with conditioner and leave the oil on for five to 10 minutes before rinsing it out.

Lavender tea can calm upset stomach

Lavender ingestibles — like tea — can help with digestive disorders such as vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas, upset stomach, and abdominal swelling, Medical News Today points out. Whether it's bloating, nausea, or cramps you're suffering from, one cup of lavender tea can destress your system, alleviate uncomfortable gas and after-meal stomach cramps, and make you feel much better. According to a 2018 study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, lavender essential oils can help keep the symptoms of postoperative nausea and vomiting under control.

If you're having problems with nausea, consider sniffing lavender oil. In a quasi-experimental study investigating the effect of lavender tea on the digestive system, 66 women in their 6th and 16th weeks of pregnancy were placed into two groups, in which one was assigned to inhale lavender oil twice a day for a week. After seven days, the results came out that those who inhaled lavender oil daily reported decreased nausea, vomiting, and anxiety compared to placebos. For this reason, lavender aromatherapy is often recommended for pregnant women.

Lavender tea or essential oils can help with menstrual pain

If menstrual pains are your biggest pet peeve every time your period arrives, lavender tea or lavender aromatherapy might just be what the doctor ordered to soothe the discomfort. According to Lunette, the anti-inflammatory properties in lavender essential oils can reduce the inflamed feelings of your uterus and its surrounding blood vessels when it contracts and expands its inner lining out through your vagina. The result is your muscles will feel more relaxed, and the pain will subside.

According to a study published in the journal Annals of Medical and Health Science Research, women who had smelled the lavender for 30 minutes per day in the first three days of menstruation reported decreased cramping pains after two months. Lavender aromatherapy has also been proven to reduce menopausal symptoms in some people, such as hot flashes, headaches, fatigue, and heart palpitations. If you're struggling with menstrual and menopausal symptoms, a bottle of lavender essential oil, face mist, or moisturizer, as well as lavender tea, can ease up your body and your mind from sunup to sundown.