Lavender essential oil, Lavandula angustifolia, is one of the most popular essential oils in aromatherapy. It has been used for centuries for a variety of mind and body health purposes. Due to its therapeutic versatility, lavender is a common ingredient in personal care, bath, and body care products. As a staple in many formulations, it also lends a balancing effect for scent coherence when combined with other essential oils.
Lavender is most associated with its relaxing and calming effects to the mind, emotions, and body. It is used to manage skin issues, mood, frustration, and joint support. In addition, it has a plethora of other benefits and therapeutic properties such as –
Reduction in anxiety¹, blood pressure support², agitation especially with those suffering with dementia³ and postpartum depression⁴.
Analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties⁵.
Neuroprotective, helping increase sustained attention span and reaction time, shown in those with dementia⁶.
Often, it is a universal choice over many other scents for three reasons. One is because of its safety and low contraindication rating. Sensitivities to pure, unadulterated lavender are rare, and it is generally safe for all ages, humans, and pets.
Second, is lack of education. Seeing DIY recipes and hearing about general essential oil uses from another user can be confusing. Not knowing if a certain scent will help their particular health ailment, or if there are precautions that should be taken with their health status. Being able to talk with an educated and certified aromatherapist, can give guidance and peace of mind. Lavender is gentle enough, and because there are numerous studies and understanding of this essential oil, that is the one most will gravitate to.
Third, like many other essential oils derived from flowers, it is soothing and reduces stress which everyone has and seeks solutions for. Lavender has also been used to promote a restful sleep, which is another common issue people seek remedies for. Other scents such as mint, camphor, spices, and citrus are more energizing and uplifting. Although they are popular scents as well, to someone new to essential oils, lavender is synonymous with aromatherapy. It has earned the reputation of being the “poster scent” or “face” of aromatherapy. When someone sees a picture of lavender, they immediately think of aromatherapy or essential oils.
How it works compared to no scent exposure
When scent is introduced, it lends its therapeutic power to help someone manage a situation. Scents connect with the olfactory bulb which send messages to the brain to elicit a physiological, psychological, and biochemical response. When a scent is encountered, it triggers an effect such as relaxing, energizing, invigorating, balancing and/or grounding⁷. It can also trigger memories. Studies show that memories triggered by scent have stronger emotional connections, therefore appear more intense than other memory triggers such as sight, sound or touch (and no scent)⁸.
- Mizuho Takahashi, et al. Anxiolytic-like effect of inhalation of essential oil from Lavandula officinalis: investigation of changes in 5-HT turnover and involvement of olfactory stimulation. Nat Prod Commun. 2014 Jul;9(7):1023-6. Link
- Kazuaki Iokawa, et al. Effect of olfactory stimulation with essential oils on cardiovascular reactivity during the moving beans task in stroke patients with anxiety. Complement Ther Med. 2018 Feb;36:20-24. Link 2
- Muhammad Ayaz, et al. Neuroprotective and Anti-Aging Potentials of Essential Oils from Aromatic and Medicinal Plants. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017; 9: 168. Link
- Maryam Kianpour, et al.Effect of lavender scent inhalation on prevention of stress, anxiety and depression in the postpartum period. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016 Mar-Apr; 21(2): 197–201. Link
- Gabriela L da Silva, et al. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2015 Aug;87(2 Suppl):1397-408. Link
- Kuniyoshi Shimizu. Essential oil of lavender inhibited the decreased attention during a long-term task in humans. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Jul;72(7):1944-7. Link
- Pressimone, J. (2018) JennScents Holistic Aromatherapy Comprehensive Guide. Link
- PsychologicalScience.org. Fragrant Flashbacks. Helen Fields. March 28, 2012. Link
Jennifer Pressimone is a Clinical Aromatherapist, Herbalist & Educator. She is the CEO of JennScents®, Inc. and JennScents Aromaversity®, providing Holistic, Professional & Clinical Aromatherapy Certifications. Jennifer is the Central Florida Director and Vice President of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. She can be contacted at www.JennScents.com.