lavender field

What is Lavender Essential Oil and How Does it Work?

Welcome to the Seeds of Thyme blog! We're dedicated to sharing helpful insights about essential oils, and what better place to start than with one of the most well-known and versatile essential oils, Lavender. Get ready to take a deep dive into the composition of lavender, including the breakdown of its terpenes and other constituents, to understand why it's a powerful ally in aromatherapy and holistic wellness.


Extracted using precise steam distillation from the delicate purple flowers of the Lavandula angustifolia plant, lavender essential oil is renowned for its calming and relaxing properties. However, the benefits of this aromatic powerhouse go beyond its soothing aroma – and it's all thanks to its complex chemical composition.

The Chemistry of Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is a combination of many natural chemical constituents. These are primarily monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and other compounds like esters and ketones. These constituents are responsible for the oil's distinctive aroma, therapeutic properties, and health benefits. There are far too many constituents to name in this blog, but here are the highlights.


Monoterpenes are the most prevalent group of terpenes found in lavender essential oil. The major monoterpenes include linalool and the terpene ester linalyl acetate. These two account for up to 80% of the oil's composition.

  • Linalool: This terpene has potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and stress-reducing properties. It's the primary compound responsible for lavender’s famous calming effect.
  • Linalyl Acetate: Acting in synergy with linalool, linalyl acetate is known for its relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties, contributing significantly to lavender's effectiveness in easing tension and promoting restful sleep.


Sesquiterpenes, although found in smaller amounts, also contribute to lavender's therapeutic potential.

  • β-Caryophyllene: This sesquiterpene has strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
  • β-Farnesene: Known for its calming effect, farnesene helps enhance the stress-relieving properties of lavender.

Other Compounds

Beyond terpenes, lavender essential oil contains many other compounds:

  • Lavandulyl Acetate: This compound adds to the calming and soothing qualities of lavender essential oil.
  • Camphor: A small percentage of camphor contributes to lavender's fresh, invigorating scent. In higher amounts, it can also provide relief for minor aches and pains.
  • 1,8-Cineole (Eucalyptol): Known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, 1,8-cineole supports respiratory health and enhances the overall therapeutic power of lavender oil.

Unlocking the Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil

Understanding the chemistry of lavender essential oil helps us gain some insights to unlock its therapeutic potential. Whether used internally for anxiety and sleep, in aromatherapy to reduce stress, applied topically to increase collagen production and soothe skin irritations, or used in massage therapy to relieve muscle tension, lavender oil leverages its rich blend of natural compounds for holistic wellness.

Lavender essential oil is being studied more and more over the past couple of decades, and science has shown many positive benefits.

Core Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Stay tuned for future blogs where we’ll go in-depth on the benefits of lavender and other essential oils, and all the ways you can use it.

Final Thoughts

Lavender essential oil is a testament to the complexity and power of nature. Its vast array of chemical constituents – each with its unique properties – work together to produce an oil with a myriad of health and wellness benefits. This complexity makes lavender not just a fragrant addition to any essential oil collection but a versatile tool for natural wellness.

At Seeds of Thyme, we believe that knowledge is power. Understanding the science behind essential oils can help us use these gifts of nature more effectively. Stay tuned for more deep dives into your favorite essential oils and remember – every drop holds a world of potential.

Remember, always use essential oils safely and responsibly. Consult with a healthcare practitioner if you have specific health concerns or if you are pregnant, nursing, or under medical care.

Let's continue to explore, learn, and appreciate the wonders of essential oils together!

Seeds of Thyme is dedicated to providing education about the use of essential oils. This information is intended for educational purposes only and not as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new health regimen.


Research and References

  1. Effects of Orally Administered Lavender Essential Oil on Responses to Anxiety-Provoking Film Clips 
  2. Lavender oil preparation is effective in generalized anxiety disorder--a randomized, double-blind comparison to placebo and paroxetine 
  3. Antioxidant potential of essential oil from Lavandula angustifolia in in vitro and ex vivo cultured liver cells 
  4. Effects of Lavender on Anxiety, Depression, and Physiological Parameters: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  5. The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activity
  6. An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women 
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