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The ‘Lullaby’ Lavender Tea Guaranteed to Melt Stress and Deepen Sleep

Lavender tames sleep-sapping anxiety as well as an Rx!

Ahh, lavender. Just hearing the word evokes relaxing images of purple fields and sweetly scented sachets. But this popular herb is much more than just a pretty face. It’s packed with health-boosting essential oils and unique compounds proven to decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure, soothe migraines, boost immunity and more. And the sleep benefits of lavender tea can’t be understated.

“Lavender tea has gained recognition for its potential to induce a sense of relaxation,” confirms critical care and sleep expert Raj Dasgupta, MD, Chief Medical Advisor for and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Keck School of Medicine at USC. Indeed, simply taking a moment out of your busy routine to enjoy a cuppa is revitalizing unto itself. “Preparing and sipping tea is so calming, because you’re forced to slow down — you can’t chug it like a Red Bull,” laughs physician and nutrition specialist Melina Jampolis, MD, author of Spice Up, Live Long and founder of “This soothing ritual helps reduce stress, further amplifying lavender’s many health benefits.”

Read on to discover how drinking a cup of floral, aromatic lavender tea can improve your health from head to toe.

The history of lavender as a health booster

Modern science may prove the health benefits of this versatile herb, but knowledge of its antibacterial and medicinal properties stretches as far back as the dawn of the Great Pyramids. “Ancient Egyptians used lavender essential oil in their mummification ceremonies, while practitioners of ancient Ayurvedic medicine used it in therapeutic massage and medieval doctors treated seizures with it,” reveals physician Valerie Cacho, MD, triple board-certified in internal, sleep and integrative medicine. Fast forward a few hundred years, and Queen Elizabeth I started sipping lavender tea to help relieve her migraines. After all, “heavy is the head that wears the crown”.

Sprigs of lavender used to make lavender tea

The sleep benefits of lavender tea

Go ahead and pour another cuppa. Lavender tea helps you get sweeter, deeper sleep in multiple ways.

It helps you doze off faster and sleep deeper

Research shows simply inhaling the scent of lavender as you sip is enough to trigger the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. “About 98% of lavender’s sleep benefits are indirect, because it helps manage anxiety,” explains Dr. Jampolis. “And that makes a lot of sense. Anytime a patient comes in and says to me, ‘I’m not sleeping well,’ I say, ‘Well, are you under more stress than usual?’ That’s my number one question, because high levels of anxiety and sleep problems are so intertwined.”

To reap the sleep benefits of lavender tea (one of nature’s best “nerve tonics”), simply sip lavender tea about 30 minutes before bed, advises Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS. The more senses you can involve, the better, so consider tucking a small lavender sachet under your pillow, too. Dr. Cacho adds, “One of my favorite studies shows that just placing lavender near seniors’ pillows in a nursing home significantly improved their anxiety and helped them achieve deeper levels of sleep.” (Not a fan of lavender tea? Click through to see more ways to help you sleep at night.)

It’s so effective at ushering in sound sleep that researchers reporting in the journal Menopause found that inhaling a lavender scent improves your slumber by increasing your body’s output of sleep-promoting melatonin by nearly 30%. Also smart: Spritzing your sheets with a mister bottle of water infused with 5 drops of lavender essential oil. Wesleyan University researchers found this trick boosts production of slow brain waves responsible for deep sleep. (Click through to our sister publication to learn more ways to increase slow wave sleep.)

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It blocks menopausal snoring

Even if you were a silent sleeper until your 50s, your risk of snoring increases 350% with menopause as levels of respiration-regulating estrogen drop. And the little mini-awakenings (called “micro arousals”) that snoring causes can leave you tossing and turning and exhausted when you wake. Fortunately, research suggests tapping into the sleep benefits of lavender tea can help.

A plant compound called linalool mimics estrogen, and daily contact helps offset hormonal shifts that worsen snoring. At the same time, linalool instantly increases blood flow to tighten lax tissues in the throat responsible for rattling. Indeed, a study in Phytotherapy Research suggests gargling with lavender blocks snoring for up to 71% of women. (Click through to see the foods that can prevent snoring.)

More impressive health perks of lavender tea

Guaranteeing a great night’s sleep isn’t the only thing the brew can do. Read on to discover the other ways lavender tea can boost your health and happiness.

It soothes stress and beats the blues

The key to lavender’s medicinal might lies in its ability to dial down the stress hormone cortisol. As Dr. Cacho explains, “lavender essential oil works phenomenally to boost GABA, a relaxing neurotransmitter that decreases anxiety.” (Click through to discover how essential oils can boost your focus and memory, too.)

In fact, research in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine showed that people who drink about 1 cup of lavender tea twice a day slashed their levels of anxiety and depression. Another study in Worldwide Views on Evidence-Based Nursing showed that women who drank 1 cup of lavender tea for two weeks (while also taking it its soothing aroma) reported significantly less depression and fatigue.

Not only that, a study in the journal Phytomedicine found that lavender may work even better than anxiety medication. That’s a finding that surprised Dr. Jampolis. “The study showed that silexan [a lavender oil preparation available in tablets] works better than the anxiety medication Ativan — and 80 mg. of silexan is equal to 20 mg. of Paxil.” (See how lavender soothes stress hives, too, plus three simple ways to quiet anxiety in seconds.)

Related: Fennel Tea Can Ease Bloat, Calm Stress + Boost Sleep — How to Brew It for Pennies

It lowers high blood pressure

Given its relaxing effects, it makes sense that lavender also has been shown to decrease blood pressure, according to a study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Researchers found that the linalool in the herb lowers blood pressure as much as 4 points in 20 minutes. 

“There is a very strong association between stress and blood pressure,” confirms Dr. Jampolis. She says that inhaling the scent of lavender or drinking the tea helps calm the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, a kind of “super-highway” between the brain and stress hormones. “Doctors are constantly changing patients’ blood pressure medications to try to deal with their side effects [from brain fog to stomach aches], so it’s great news that lavender can help lower blood pressure naturally.” (Click through to see how indulging in chocolate can help curb high blood pressure, too.)

How lavender tea soothes the HPA axis stress response
Lavender tea calms the HPA axis to tame stressGetty

It soothes migraine pain

By taming stress — the most common migraine trigger — lavender soothes headache pain, notes Dr. Axe. He also credits the herb’s ability to alleviate muscle tension. In fact, one study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that just inhaling the scent of lavender for 15 minutes significantly reduced migraine pain. And research in the Journal of Herbal Medicine revealed that taking in its aroma dramatically slashed headache frequency over three months.

Further proof it works: Research in the journal European Neurology found smelling the scent of lavender tamped down migraines for 74% of folks. That’s even better than the top prescription migraine Rx Imitrex. (Click through to our sister publication to discover more easy ways to outsmart migraines.)

It boosts your immunity

Lavender fends off colds, viruses and other ills by tamping down immunity-weakening inflammation. One study in Immunological Investigations found that lavender essential oil helps curb the growth of bad bacteria.

Another way lavender tea helps keep your immune system strong? It simply makes you feel good. The correlation between mood and immunity can’t be underestimated, notes nutritionist Lisa Young, PhD, RDN. “Lavender improves your mood, reduces stress and calms your nerves—all of these factors help keep you healthy.”

Dried lavender used to make lavender tea

Pour yourself a delicious cup of lavender tea

As with any good thing, it’s best to enjoy lavender tea in moderation (1-2 cups a day) to avoid any potential side effects like stomachaches. You can readily find bagged lavender tea in supermarkets and health food stores. But if you prefer brewing your own tea, follow this easy recipe from Jules Aron, bestselling author of Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker.

“Sipped on its own or used to flavor other recipes, this 2-ingredient lavender tea is full of that soft, floral flavor we love,” she says. “Drink it on its own before bedtime, or add a bit of fresh squeezed lemon, a touch of honey and water for a most divine lavender lemonade.” Ready to enjoy the benefits of lavender tea?

What you need:

  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • ¼ cup organic dried lavender (One to try: FGO Organic Dried Lavender, Buy from Amazon, $11.99)

To do:

  • Add water and lavender to a small saucepan
  • Bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer for 2 minutes
  • Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes
  • Cool to room temperature, then strain.

Now toast to your good health and enjoy!

Read on for more amazing benefits of lavender:

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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