Everyone gets physical and mental “hiccups” at times. Thankfully, we don’t have to be afraid of every ache, pain, and emotional swing. Our body and mind are designed to maintain balance when we take good care of ourselves.

It is when symptoms are consistent and troublesome that we should seek to decode them more intentionally. In this way, we can find the deeper issue and address it.

In previous posts, I discussed an overview on headaches and why treating the cause is so important for lasting relief. Furthermore, finding its origin ensures that we can correct any dysfunction and prevent future health problems.

Essential oils are a natural modality that not only can assist with relieving aggravating symptoms, such as headaches, but can also balance physiology, psychology, and biochemistry all at once.

For example, I recently discussed how peppermint oil has clinical evidence for easing headaches. Furthermore, it also offers additional side benefits that can address underlying imbalances due to its synergy and multiple effects. This includes peppermint oil acting as an antimicrobial, digestive aid, anti-inflammatory, nervous system stimulant, and modulator of brain and cognitive functioning.

In this post, I will continue exploring how essential oils can be supportive to the mind-body in a variety of ways. I will highlight lavender oil and demonstrate how its aromatic and chemical properties can also soothe symptoms as it helps to address the root of the problem.

For my community members, I have additional resources, references, and a Q&A video in your membership vault.

Lavender Oil

Lavender (Lavandula officinalis Chaix.) belongs to the Lamiaceae family, the mint family of flowering plants. Its main constituents include camphor, terpinen-4-ol, linalool, linalyl acetate, beta-ocimene, and 1,8-cineole, among others. There are many different species and chemotypes of lavender. This means its actions and therapeutic effects will vary based on these factors and its manufacturing quality.

Overall, lavender has been stated to have the following actions:

  • anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving)
  • mood stabilizer
  • sedative
  • spasmolytic (stops spasms)
  • antihypertensive (lowers blood pressure)
  • antimicrobial
  • analgesic (pain reliever)
  • wound healing accelerator

Linalool and linalyl acetate are often what are attributed to lavender’s calming and narcotic-like actions. However, it’s the synergism of the many different components in this oil that has the most far-reaching effects. This is highlighted in the excerpt below:

Linalool and linalyl acetate have maximum and great absorbing properties from skin during massage with a depression of central nervous system. Linalool shows sedative effects and linalyl acetate shows marked narcotic actions. These two actions may be responsible for its use in lavender pillows [for] anxiety patients with sleep disturbance pattern(s), improving the feeling of well being, supporting mental alertness, and suppressing aggression and anxiety [53].

Lavender oil shows its antibacterial and antifungal properties against many species of bacteria, especially when antibiotics fail to work, but the exact mechanisms are yet to be established.

When talking about its use in aromatherapy, it is well documented for the treatment of abrasions, burns, stress, headaches, in promotion of new cell growth, skin problems, painful muscles and boosting an immune system [47], [48], [54]. This oil is used in the treatment of primary dysmenorrheal [period pain] and has shown some promising results in one of the randomized, double-blind clinical trials.

According to this review, there are many reasons lavender oil can soothe sore heads and do much more. These include its ability to support sleep, calm anxiety, ward off infections, relieve muscle strain, and enhance immunity.

Lavender Oil for the Nervous System

In a comprehensive review of the effects of lavender oil on the nervous system, the authors provided an analysis of animal and human clinical trials using different application methods. They indicated that lavender oil was shown to have effects in vivo for protecting the brain by modulating inflammatory pathways and the neurotransmitters (brain signals) dopamine, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), and serotonin.

In pre-clinical and clinical research, the calming effects of lavender oil were also shown to have an impact on sleep, pain, and mood. Furthermore, human studies demonstrated changes in the brain when inhaling this oil. Through neuroimaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), lavender oil was found to induce relaxation.


Lavender Oil, Stress, and Anxiety

Lavender oil has been shown in human trials for its ability to regulate the nervous system and stress. The most robust evidence is for anxiety relief.


Lavender Oil and Anxiety

Lavender oil has such convincing effects for its use for anxiety, Germany has formulated it as a prescription medication (Silexan) for this indication. (R, R, R) In a review of its pharmacological and pre-clinical data and seven clinical trials, the authors reported the following results on its benefits:

In patients with subthreshold (subsyndromal) anxiety or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), an anxiolytic effect of Silexan was evident after 2 weeks. HAM-A total score reductions between baseline and end of treatment were significantly superior to placebo in patients with subthreshold anxiety and comparable with those achieved under lorazepam or paroxetine in patients with GAD.

In addition, Silexan had beneficial effects on typical concomitant symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as impaired sleep, somatic complaints, co-morbid depression or decreased quality of life.

Except for mild gastrointestinal symptoms, Silexan did not induce any adverse effects and did not cause drug interactions, sedation or withdrawal symptoms at daily doses of 80 or 160 mg.

(Note: HAM-A is the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale used as a measurement of anxiety.)

Another systematic review and meta-analysis of using lavender oil as an intervention for anxiety included 65 randomized control trials (7993 patients) and 25 non-randomized studies (1200 patients). It incorporated all different preparations, dilutions, and ratios of this oil. Overall, it was shown to be effective in relieving anxiety, with the highest evidence for the oral form.

Calming the brain to this extent also has a physiological impact. In a 2019 randomized clinical trial, researchers investigated the effect of inhalation of lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) on anxiety, mood, and vital signs (blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, and oxygen saturation) in 126 patients undergoing oral surgery. Primary outcomes were vital signs. Secondary outcomes were changes in anxiety levels as revealed with several measurements. These included the Dental Anxiety Questionnaire (DAQ) and paired anxiety tests that were compared pre-, intra-, and post-operatively. The visual analogue scale (VAS) and patient satisfaction were also assessed.

Significant changes were found in blood pressure in the lavender group post-operatively. Moreover, most of the patients in the lavender oil group enjoyed the scent and were satisfied with the experience. This is not common reporting by people just recovering from dental procedures. As a result, the researchers stated that lavender was a “powerful anxiolytic.”

Lavender Oil, Stress, and Cortisol

Lavender oil’s ability to calm the brain and body in relation to stress was shown in several trials.

One study tested the stress-relieving benefits of inhalation of lavender and rosemary essential oils and its antioxidant capacity. The oils were diluted in propylene glycol in ratio measurements to enhance pleasantness for the 22 subjects. The volunteers sniffed the aroma for five minutes and immediately following, saliva was collected. The researchers used these salivary measurements to determine free radical scavenging activity, FRSA and cortisol levels. The researchers found that FRSA increased with low concentrations of lavender (1000 times dilution) and high concentrations of rosemary (10 times dilution) oils. Cortisol, the stress hormone, was also decreased in both the lavender and rosemary sniffing subjects.

Lavender oil was also studied for its impact on anxiety and stress in a 2016 single-blind clinical trial in 90 candidates for open-heart surgery. The participants were evaluated to determine the effect of 20 minutes of inhalation of two drops of lavender oil on anxiety and blood cortisol levels. Distilled water was used as a control to compare results. Along with an adapted questionnaire, blood samples of cortisol were taken. The results indicated a significant reduction in anxiety scores and a greater cortisol level decline in the lavender oil group.


Lavender Oil and Headaches

Lavender oil’s use for headaches has also been validated in clinical studies. This makes sense based on its anti-inflammatory, cortisol-lowering, anti-infectious, antioxidant, and pain-relieving actions. It also alters brain functioning and neurotransmitters as it alters mood.

In one study with 47 patients diagnosed with migraine headaches, subjects in the intervention inhaled lavender essential oil for 15 minutes, whereas the control group used liquid paraffin for the same period. Headache severity and associated symptoms were recorded in 30-minute intervals for two hours.

The results showed that headache severity was decreased more in the lavender group than control. Also, of the 129 headache attacks in the lavender oil group, 92 responded completely or partially, whereas, 32 out of 68 placebo subjects responded to a lesser extent.

The authors stated, The present study suggests that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches.”

Another randomized control trial studied the impact of a particular lavender species for prophylactic migraine treatment in subjects already taking medication. The effects were evaluated over three months. The researchers choose lavender due to its impact on the neural system, specifically the linalool and linalyl acetate compounds. The results indicated that there was a significant decrease in migraine disability scores as well as severity and frequency of headaches in the lavender oil group vs. the controls. The authors reported:

Headache severity in the case group was reduced to 41.1% in the first month and 52.35% in the third month, indicating that lavender reduced headache intensity by approximately 50% during the trial period. In the case group, the frequencies of headache attacks at the end of the first and third month were reduced to 52.73 and 68.85% respectively, representing a reduction of more than 60% in headache frequency.

Finally, in another small study, headache intensity and depression scores were compared between subjects treated with 2-3 drops of lavender oil vs. paraffin (control). The intervention consisted of inhalation for 15 minutes three times a week for four weeks. The lavender oil resulted in significant benefits for both outcomes.

Summary on Lavender Oil for the Nervous System, Stress, Anxious Symptoms, and Head Discomfort

Due to its chemical composition, lavender oil is mostly associated with calming and soothing; however, it contains compounds that are also anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, antioxidant, and pain-relieving. It also has clinical evidence for lowering the stress hormone cortisol, relieving anxiety, and soothing headaches.

As a result of its synergy and multiple components, lavender oil is overall balancing to our physiology, biology, and biochemistry. Its many actions can address the symptoms of the issue as it also helps to restore balance.

Lavender oil is another oil I never leave home without, especially when traveling. It assists me in achieving a peaceful sleep every night. (Without it, I tend to be wide-eyed for way too long into the darkness.)

What is your experience with lavender oil?

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Many blessings.



  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22517298/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115001033?via%3Dihub
  3. https://sci-hub.hkvisa.net/10.1016/j.hermed.2016.01.003
  4. http://jmp.ir/article-1-2571-en.htmlI
  5. https://www.britannica.com/plant/Lamiaceae
  6. https://sci-hub.hkvisa.net/10.1016/j.psychres.2005.12.012
  7. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15622975.2017.1331046
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22475718/
  9. https://journals.lww.com/intclinpsychopharm/Abstract/2010/09000/Silexan,_an_orally_administered_Lavandula_oil.5.aspx
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27563324/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31505191
  13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711319303411?via%3Dihub

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Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)

This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.

Thanks Pixabay and Canva.