How Strong is the Evidence for the Anxiolytic Efficacy of Lavender?: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Asian Nurs Res (Korean Soc Nurs Sci). 2019 Dec;13(5):295-305. doi: 10.1016/j.anr.2019.11.003. Epub 2019 Nov 16.


Purpose: Although lavender is purported to possess anxiolytic and sedative properties and is often recommended for relieving anxiety, the efficacy of lavender has not been well established. Thus, this review aimed to evaluate the anxiolytic effects of lavender aromatherapy.

Methods: Ten data bases were searched for studies published between 2000 and 2018. Randomized controlled trials investigating the anxiolytic effects of lavender aromatherapy with any type of application for persons with or without clinical anxiety were included. The outcome variables included self-rated anxiety, vital signs, and salivary cortisol and chromogranin A (CgA) levels. In the meta-analysis, standardized mean difference and 95% confidence interval were calculated as effect measures by applying the random effect model and inverse variance method.

Results: Twenty-two trials met our inclusion criteria. Lavender aromatherapy was found to have favorable effects in relieving anxiety (Hedges' ĝ = -0.65; 95% CI, -0.84 to -0.46) and decreasing systolic blood pressure (ĝ = -0.22; 95% CI, -0.43 to -0.02), heart rate (ĝ = -0.53; 95% CI, -0.74 to -0.32), and salivary cortisol (ĝ = -1.29; 95% CI, -2.23 to -0.35) and CgA (ĝ = -2.29; 95% CI, -3.24 to -1.34) levels. However, the meta-analysis did not reveal any significant effects of lavender on diastolic blood pressure (effect size: -0.17; 95% CI, -0.37-0.04).

Conclusion: Aromatherapy using lavender oil might have favorable effects on anxiety and its physiological manifestations. Future studies are recommended with an emphasis on methodological quality. In nursing practice, it is suggested that lavender aromatherapy be included in programs intended to manage anxiety in patients across diverse healthcare settings.

Keywords: anxiety; aromatherapy; lavandula; meta-analysis; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Aromatherapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lavandula*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • lavender oil