5 Benefits and Side Effects of Lavender Essential Oil [Updated Feb/2023]

Lavender essential oil is currently the most commonly used aromatherapy product in the world (extracted from flowers and stems and leaves), is a light yellow viscous liquid, with a special sweet taste, often used in perfumes, cosmetics and bath products, has a history of 2500 years.

In aromatherapy, lavender is seen as a substitute for improving mood and anxiety. Note 14 Other functions such as sedatives, antispasmodics, antihypertensive, antibacterial and antiseptic are also often mentioned.


What are the recommended proven benefits of lavender essential oil?

  1. Sleep quality

Sleep problems have become increasingly serious in this round-the-clock society, and it is estimated that about 25%–65% of children, adolescents, and adults have some degree of sleep disturbance (difficulty falling asleep, sudden awakenings at night, or daytime sleepiness)

Sleep is responsible for repair, detoxification and growth, and health problems related to sleep disorders include tiredness, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, obesity, diabetes, etc.Note 3

One controlled study (5-day, 79 students with sleep problems) showed that lavender essential oil (inhalation) helped improve sleep quality, energy and vitality (as measured by a self-assessment questionnaire).Note 1

Controlled studies have also found that women’s postpartum pain, hormonal changes, and parenting stress often reduce sleep quality, and lavender essential oil (inhalation) helps improve sleep quality (including waiting time before falling asleep and sleep duration).Note 2

  1. Anxiety/depression before and after surgery

For new mothers, pregnancy and childbirth are the most important life experiences, and welcoming a new life gives people an indescribable sense of accomplishment.

However, the drastic physical and emotional transformations that accompany this period are also an invisible stress. It is estimated that more than 13% of postpartum women suffer from postpartum depression (with anxiety).Note 6

Postpartum depression is mainly manifested as sadness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety and disinterest in surrounding events, severe and even thoughts of self-harm or harm to the child.

One controlled study (90 people undergoing cardiac surgery) suggested that preoperative lavender essential oil (inhalation) had the effect of reducing mean anxiety scores and cortisol levels, and may be an alternative therapy option to reduce preoperative anxiety.Note 4

Another controlled study (in 140 postpartum women) also found that lavender essential oil (inhalation) had the effect of reducing stress, anxiety, and postpartum depression scores.Note 5

  1. Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome describes a spontaneous urge to move the leg (usually triggered by discomfort or tingling in the leg) while sitting or lying down, and most often occurs at night. It is estimated that the prevalence is between 2% and 15%, and up to 20% – 80% for hemodialysis patients.Note 8

Because the pathological causes of this disease are not fully understood, there is no clear prescription to reduce symptoms so far

A controlled study (3 weeks, 70 hemodialysis patients) suggested that lavender essential oil (massage) had the effect of improving restless legs syndrome compared with the control group, perhaps as a simple, low-cost adjunct therapy without side effects.Note 7

  1. Labor and surgical pain

Pain sensation is caused by actual or potential tissue damage, and pain after childbirth and surgery is often very uncomfortable, and labor pain is one of the most progressive.

Unrelieved pain after surgery is not only intimidating, but also often causes many acute and chronic symptoms, such as easy blood clots, postoperative immunosuppression and delayed wound healing.

One controlled study (in 120 pregnant women) showed that lavender essential oil (inhalation) helped reduce pain during labour (although there was no significant difference between active and second stage of labour).Note 9

*Active phase is a period when the uterus contracts gradually increases (dilation by 3 cm to full opening).
*Second stage refers to the opening of the cervix until the fetus is delivered

Another controlled study (in 60 women undergoing caesarean section) found that lavender essential oil (inhalation) helped reduce pain after caesarean section (4, 8, 12 hours after the first administration of analgesics).Note 10

  1. Migraine

Migraine is a complex neurological disorder that prevalents in about 18% of women and about 6% of men, and is predominantly characterized by headache and at least one or two of the following phenomena, such as unilateralness, pulsating pain, increased movement, and fear of light or sound.

Common external triggers for migraine include light, temperature, exercise, loud noise, or intake of tyramine-containing foods and alcohol; Intrinsic factors include stress, sleep disorders, and decreased estrogen.Note 11

A controlled study showed that lavender essential oil (inhalation) reduced the severity of headaches and associated peripheral symptoms (such as photophobia, phobia, nausea and vomiting) and the chance of moving to the other side.Note 12

The authors suggest that lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe method for the acute management of migraine.

Are there any side effects of lavender essential oil?

Lavender essential oil is safe and has no side effects when used correctly for most people, but some adverse effects (either inhaled or absorbed through the skin) have been reported, including nausea, vomiting, headache, chills, and skin irritation.

Oral essential oils are generally not recommended unless professionally directed and may include constipation, headache, and increased appetite.

Safety precautions 

Nursing and pregnant women, especially in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, are generally not recommended to inhale or apply essential oil products, or to check with a healthcare practitioner before use.

There have been case reports (in 3 boys) that lavender essential oil in shampoos, soaps, and lotions causes gynecomastia, and although the evidence is still weak, caution must be exercised before use for safety.Note 13

Do not combine with sleeping sedatives, and discontinue surgery or anesthesia two weeks before (because lavender essential oil has a stimulating and relaxing effect, which may interfere with or worsen the drug response.)