LavenderSleep (Insomnia)

Lavender oil treatment for insomnia

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has published a survey on the extent of insomnia and use of CAM in Americans. WebMD summarizes the findings here.

  • 35 million adults regularly had insomnia in 2002
  • 1.6 million of them tried CAM to get some sleep

Most often they used herbs and vitamins, or mind-body therapies. Most CAM treatments for insomnia are not well studied, although two studies of inhaled lavender oil have been published, and are reviewed here.

Forty-two female college students with insomnia and depression were treated with one week of 60% and then 100% lavender fragrance.

  • Time to fall asleep, severity of insomnia, and self-satisfaction with sleep significantly improved with both treatments
  • Severity of depression improved with 100% lavender only

Improvement was also reported in a smaller study of 10 men and women with insomnia, although it’s not clear how much lavender was used.

Despite these positive reports, the best dose and method of taking lavender is not known. Before you consider lavender to improve your sleep, inform yourself. Background information on lavender is here.

  • The German Commission E monograph suggests 1 to 2 teaspoons (5-10 grams) as a tea, or
  • Several drops of the oil can be added to a bath or diluted in vegetable oil for topical applications
  • The concentrated oil is not for internal use, except under medical supervision
  • Internal use can cause severe nausea
  • External use in reasonable amounts is safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding

9/23/06 00:02 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.