May 2023

Mounting Evidence Supports Lavender for Mental Health

Mental health concerns continue to be a struggle for many. Providers are increasingly looking for alternatives to medications to help patients find relief. Well-known for its calming effects and inducing relaxation, there’s growing evidence that lavender might be one to consider. Here’s what you should know.

A recent meta-analysis shows that taking lavender by mouth might reduce depression symptoms in some patients, including those who are menopausal and postpartum, as well as patients with major depression. Various forms and doses seem to help, including lavender powder, lavender oil capsules, and lavender tea. Lavender oil aromatherapy might offer similar benefits when used alone or in combination with other essential oils.

Most research also shows that patients with mild to severe anxiety may be helped by taking a specific lavender oil product by mouth (Silexan) daily for 6-10 weeks. While lavender oil aromatherapy might benefit some patients, the poor quality of most available research makes it difficult to determine which patients might benefit most.

As for other mental health conditions, there’s some early evidence that lavender oil aromatherapy might relieve fatigue in patients with underlying health conditions such as heart disease. But it’s not clear if it benefits otherwise healthy people. Also, lavender oil aromatherapy might improve some measures of sleep quality in people with insomnia, but the overall evidence is conflicting, and the benefits seem to be small.

We’ll continue to update you as the body of evidence for lavender keeps expanding. If patients want to give it a try, there aren’t major safety concerns for most people – mild side effects or an allergic skin reaction are possible. One notable concern is for young males who haven't yet reached puberty – applying lavender oil to the skin might have hormone-like effects that could potentially disrupt normal hormones. Check out our recently updated monograph to learn more.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.