10 Soothing Benefits of Lavender (Beyond Its Lovely Scent)

Read the science behind lavender’s incredible healing powers.

Since ancient times, cultures around the world have used lavender as a wellness aid. The ancient Greeks, in particular, turned to lavender as a tool to alleviate insomnia and back pain. Today, people continue to become more aware of the purported wellness benefits of lavender. It's said to help with anxiety, stress, sleep, and overall relaxation. But how exactly does lavender work?

To answer the question, we've gathered the help of physicians and research to provide science-backed reasons why lavender is so soothing and even healing. Here are 10 lavender benefits you don't want to miss.

01 of 10

Can Increase Deep Sleep

It's no secret that lavender is used far and wide to promote good sleep. Before the widespread availability of lavender essential oils and lavender-scented products, like eye masks and heating pads, people would dry lavender flowers and place them in a bag under their pillow.

Now, recent studies are pointing to lavender's ability to actually boost deep sleep when inhaled. That's because the lavender aroma increases delta waves in slow-wave sleep, which is the stage of sleep where you sleep the most deeply. It also reduces alpha waves in wake-stage sleep, which decreases the amount of restless sleep a person might experience.

02 of 10

Fights Fungal and Bacterial Infections

Lavender is known for its attractive, calming scent, but did you know lavender also has antibacterial and antifungal properties? Studies are looking into how lavender essential oil compares to common antifungal medications on the market. Early data is showing that lavender may be more effective, making it a potential antifungal agent. It's also been found to be effective against many different species of bacteria, including staph infections.

So what makes it so soothing? Neither fungal nor bacterial infections are pleasant to experience, and lavender may have more power than we previously knew to alleviate some symptoms of both. It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, according to neurologist and neurosurgeon Hafiz Abdul Majid, MBBS, MCPS, FCPS, who adds that "these properties boost the healing process."

03 of 10

Protects Your Brain

Growing evidence points to lavender potentially treating or alleviating neurological disorders. Preliminary research studying lavender's impact on the nervous system suggested that lavender has neuroprotective properties or properties that can protect your nervous system.

To get more specific, preventative health specialist Sandra El Hajj, Ph.D., says, "Lavender is deemed to be one of the best treatments for neurological disorders due to its content of linalool, linalyl acetate, 1,8-cineole B-ocimene, terpinen-4-ol, and camphor." Put more simply, lavender may be able to reverse the progression of some neurological diseases, though further studies are needed to understand the phenomenon better.

04 of 10

Can Potentially Reduce Pain

Lavender is often hailed for its ability to reduce pain, whether acute (temporary) or chronic (long-term). A study that looked at 100 ICU patients found that after massaging lavender essential oil into the feet of the patients, there were significantly noticeable changes. These included lowered blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, wakefulness, and pain.

When a person is in pain, blood pressure and heart rate can go up, showing that lavender may work as an all-natural pain reliever. Other studies show that lavender might work as a topical analgesic or painkiller when rubbed into an area of the body experiencing pain.

05 of 10

Helps Alleviate Digestive Problems

You may have seen different lavender teas in grocery stores. While most purport calming or sleep benefits, others are designed to aid with digestion. Lavender is said to help with different digestive issues like vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas, upset stomach, and abdominal swelling.

One study that used aromatherapy as a treatment for postoperative nausea and vomiting found that nausea scores improved in 82.6 percent of patients who inhaled lavender essential oil. It was found to be superior to ginger essential oil, a common nausea relief aid, which only improved nausea scores in 65.2 percent of patients.

06 of 10

May Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Arguably the holy grail of lavender benefits is its proven merit in reducing stress and anxiety. "Lavender smell increases brain activities," Dr. Majid explains. "The smell affects mood, productivity, and mental illness by providing a calm sensation to the brain."

Research shows that lavender can improve symptoms of anxiety like restlessness, disturbed sleep, and even physical symptoms that anxiety can cause. Lavender was also shown to positively influence general well-being and quality of life. This is because lavender has anxiolytic properties, or anxiety-relieving properties, comparable to common anxiety medications.

07 of 10

Soothes Itchy Insect Bites

If an insect has bitten you and you're looking for an herbal remedy to relieve the swelling, itching, or pain, lavender oil is a good option. According to the National Institutes of Health, linalool, the active chemical compound in lavender, alleviates the swelling and itchiness of insect bites.

While other essential oils (like peppermint oil) can cause irritation when rubbed into the skin, lavender can be applied directly with no adverse effects. Its anti-inflammatory properties work on all insect bites, especially bee stings, and bites from fire ants and spiders.

08 of 10

Adds a Uniquely Spicy Flavor to Foods and Drinks

You can use culinary lavender in a host of ways, from garnishing a cocktail to spicing up a dessert. Its flavor is similar to rosemary, with a hint of mint. Fresh and dried lavender can be mixed into marinades and salad dressings. Or add a lavender-infused syrup to iced tea or ice cream.

Lavender is fat-free and has only a few calories per tablespoon, but don't use too much: Its flavor is strong and distinctive. Lavender smoothies, teas, and coffees are all the rage at fancy coffee shops and cafés. Why not order a lavender-flavored treat and see what you think?

09 of 10

Makes DIY Home Cleaners Smell Great

Looking for a natural all-purpose cleaner that's safe to use on all surfaces and smells incredibly fresh? Try the following: Mix ½ cup white vinegar, ½ cup unflavored vodka, 10 drops lemon essential oil, 10 drops lavender essential oil, and 1 ½ cups water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake.

Spray it on surfaces you need to disinfect and let it sit for 10 minutes to kill all germs. Then scrub it clean with a microfiber cloth.

10 of 10

Alleviates Menopausal Symptoms

Research shows that lavender can be a great boon to menopausal women. Many of the most common symptoms of menopause, such as insomnia and hormonally-induced feelings of anxiety, are issues that lavender addresses.

One study has even found that lavender aromatherapy can help with reducing flushing (aka hot flashes) in menopausal women. The study participants experienced fewer hot flashes after smelling lavender for 20 minutes, twice a day. However, the researchers weren't certain if this was a direct effect of smelling the lavender, or if the aromatherapy merely lowered their stress levels, which in turn reduced the flushes.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles