What is it?

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)—an aromatic herb native to lands around the Mediterranean—has been used for thousands of years as a cleansing and soothing agent (its name is derived from the Latin word lavare, which means “to wash”). It’s a common ingredient in soaps and beauty products, as well as a popular essential oil and cooking ingredient.

Use it for

Calming anxiety, improving sleep, reversing hair loss, healing wounds, managing fungal infections, reducing pain after surgery

The science

Numerous studies indicate lavender can relieve anxiety and improve sleep, even for people with some anxiety disorders. An in vitro study in the Journal of Medical Microbiology suggests lavender has powerful antifungal properties, while research published in 2013 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed lavender oil accelerated wound healing, at least in rats.

How to take it

Lavender can be taken in capsule form. Also, as an essential oil it can be used in an inhalation preparation or applied topically. Do not take the oil orally, and be sure to consult both your physician and the label directions before use.

Scared of the dentist?

Multiple studies show that exposure to a lavender scent can relieve anxiety in patients awaiting dental procedures.