Lavender tincture is a gentle herbal remedy for improving sleep, and there’s also some evidence that it can help with mild anxiety, depression, and headaches. It’s easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients!
Lavender is well known for its relaxing properties, but it also has other medicinal benefits. A small sniff from a bit of lavender aromatherapy is enough to cause whole-body relaxation, but it also works well when taken internally.
Lavender tincture has natural sedative properties, and it’s also used to treat anxiety and depression.
Since lavender is also anti-microbial, it’s commonly used in herbal salves for wound care. Lavender tincture can be used topically in a spray bottle or as a liniment with a similar effect.
(Always consult your doctor or a clinical herbalist before trying any new herbal remedy, as there’s always the possibility of unintended consequences, allergic reaction, or interactions with other medication. If you’re harvesting wild plant material, make sure you’re 100% confident in your identification and consult multiple sources for your ID. The following is based on my research and experience, but I don’t claim to have any certifications that would qualify me to advise you on your health. Please do your own research and always verify with multiple reputable sources.)
Benefits of Lavender Tincture
Lavender is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, but it can also be taken in tincture form with similar results. Lavender flowers contain a chemical compound called linalool, which is thought to help with stress and anxiety reduction.
Lavender tincture has sedative and pain-relieving (analgesic) properties, and studies show that it may be an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and headaches (Source).
One small study found that when lavender tincture was taken in conjunction with a tricyclic antidepressant, participants reported “better and earlier improvement” compared to those taking the antidepressant on its own. This study also found that some of the side effects associated with the drug, such as dry mouth and water retention, occurred less when the participant was taking lavender tincture at the same time.
A separate study on depression in menopausal women found that lavender extract significantly improved symptoms, even without other medications.
Lavender is also being studied for its neuroprotective properties (source), and one study showed that lavender extract can even improve the cognitive function of rats with Alzheimer’s disease, but clearly, more research is warranted there.
Lavender tincture can be applied topically, and it’s generally used on the skin as an anti-microbial for small cuts or burns, or minor skin irritation. It can also help soothe anxiety about an injury, and I like to mix it with the yarrow tincture that I keep in a spray bottle in my herbal first aid kit to stop bleeding from minor wounds.
How to Make Lavender Tincture
To make a Lavender tincture, you’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:
- Lavender flowers, fresh or dried (Available from either Mountain Rose Herbs or Starwest Botanicals)*
- Vodka (or any other palatable alcohol that’s at least 80 proof/40 percent — there’s no need to splurge here, I always use Smirnoff because it’s inexpensive and has a neutral taste)**
- One-pint mason jar with lid (amber glass is ideal, but as long as you keep the tincture away from light at all times it won’t make a difference)
- Fine mesh sieve
- Amber glass tincture bottles (with dropper)
**Never use isopropyl/rubbing alcohol for tinctures (or any other remedy you plan on ingesting). Even in small amounts, this type of alcohol is toxic and meant for external applications only.
To make the tincture, fill a jar about 2/3rds full with fresh lavender, or about halfway full with dried lavender.
Cover the lavender with vodka, or whichever alcohol you’ve chosen, and seal the jar with its lid.
Keep the developing tincture in a cool, dark place and give the jar a gentle shake every few days (daily is even better, but tinctures are, fortunately very forgiving when it comes to precise shaking schedules).
After about 4 to 6 weeks, it’s time to decant the tincture.
To do this, you’ll need to line a funnel with a few layers of cheesecloth. Carefully strain the tincture into small amber glass tincture bottles, squeezing the lavender to make sure all the liquid is extracted.
Once the tincture has been strained, label the tincture bottles with the date and suggested dosages (I use a small piece of masking tape and a marker, it peels off easily when I’m ready to use the bottle for something else).
For more information on the general process, I’d suggest reading this guide to making herbal tinctures at home.
I know 4-6 weeks can be a long time to wait if you’re hoping for a herbal remedy to have on hand now. There’s nothing wrong with buying a bottle of lavender tincture to use while your homemade tincture infuses. Purchased tinctures are a lot more expensive than DIY homemade ones, but they have the benefit of being ready when you need them, like now.
Lavender Tincture Dosage
For an exact dosage specific to your body and needs, I’d suggest consulting a clinical herbalist.
Generally, the dosage for lavender tincture is around 2 to 4 ml, taken three times per day. A single milliliter of tincture is about 1 dropper full, so that’d be 2 to 4 droppers full. A teaspoon is 5 ml, so you could also measure in teaspoons instead of droppers, in which case it’d be roughly 1/2 tsp to almost a full teaspoon three times per day.
That’s the general recommendation for most tinctures for an average-sized adult in relatively good health. Again, you’d need to actually talk to a qualified professional for a dosage specific to your individual needs.
Alcohol-Free Lavender Glycerite
Generally, herbal tinctures are made with a neutral spirit, but they can also be made without alcohol using food-safe vegetable glycerine instead. In that case, it’s technically not a “tincture” but a homemade herbal glycerite. That’s a good option for children, or for anyone that’s avoiding alcohol for any reason.
To make a glycerite, follow the same instructions as for an alcohol-based tincture, but substitute food-grade vegetable glycerine in for the vodka. When using fresh plant material, you can use all glycerine. If using dried plant material, I’d suggest using 1 part water and 3 parts glycerine. Start by adding the water to moisten the plant material first, then add the glycerine.
Be sure the finished glycerite is at least 60% glycerine so that it keeps. (With 1 part water and 3 parts glycerine, it’ll be 75% glycerine, so that’s a good ratio and gives you a bit of a safety margin.)
If you’re preparing this tincture for topical use, I’d suggest using alcohol rather than substituting glycerine.
Lavender tends to combine well with other herbs for relaxation and stress relief. I like to combine it with valerian tincture for a soothing sleep blend, and the light floral flavor of the lavender actually makes the much more abrasive valerian much easier to swallow. Valerian is also good for sleep and anxiety, so they work in tandem.
Some people combine it with St. Johns Wort tincture, but I’d be careful with that one. The St. johns wort plant tends to have a lot of drug interactions, and it can behave unpredictably in herbal formulations. Best consult an expert about your particular situation if you’re considering combining anything with st. johns wort.
For topical use, I add lavender into my spray-on styptic tincture made from yarrow, which I use to stop bleeding from minor cuts and scrapes. Yarrow is incredibly effective at closing wounds in my experience, and the added soothing and antimicrobial effects of the lavender extract are complementary. Since it’s being sprayed on, you get a tiny bit of “lavender aromatherapy” as it’s being applied, which helps soothe frayed nerves after the stress of an injury.
(At least my kids tell me the nice smell helps when I spray it on their boo-boos…)
If you’re interested in the science behind combining herbs to enhance their effectiveness, I’d recommend taking this online course in Mastering Herbal Formulations from the Herbal Academy. It covers the science of blending herbs into homemade formulations in detail.
Lavender tincture is a soothing remedy that's commonly used for headaches, stress, and insomnia.
- Fresh or dried lavender flowers
- Vodka or other high-proof alcohol (*see notes for making a glycerite tincture)
- Pint mason jar (or any other jar with a tight-fitting lid)
- Dark amber dropper bottles
- Adhesive label or masking tape (for labelling tincture)
- Fill a clean, empty mason jar 3/4 full of fresh lavender flowers or 1/2 full of dried lavender flowers.
- Cover the fresh or dried lavender with alcohol, making sure the contents of the jar are completely covered.
- Screw the lid on tightly and gently shake the contents of the jar. Place in a cool, dry location away from light, allowing the extraction to occur over the next 6 to 8 weeks.
- Give the contents of the jar a gentle shake every couple of days.
- Keep an eye on the alcohol level, adding more alcohol to cover the plant material if needed.
- Once the tincture is ready to be decanted, line a funnel with cheesecloth and place the tip of the funnel into the neck of a dark amber glass bottle. Pour the solvent and the lavender flowers into the cheesecloth-lined funnel, pressing to make sure all of the liquid makes into the bottle.
- Label the tincture with its contents, date of production, recommended dosages, and suggested usages. Store in a cool, dry area away from light.
*To make an alcohol-free glycerite tincture (glycerite): cover dried plant material completely with a preparation of 3 parts glycerin to 1 part distilled water (instead of alcohol). If using fresh lavender, use all glycerine and skip the water. As the glycerite tincture develops, it will need to be shaken every day. Proceed following the same directions as if making an alcohol-based tincture.
Disclaimer on Homemade Herbal Remedies
I’ve been foraging wild medicines and treating my family with herbal remedies for the past 20 years, but I’m self-taught. Be aware that I am not a clinical herbalist, and this is based on my own research and personal experience using medicinal plants. I do not claim to have the experience that’d qualify me to advise you on your health, and I’m only providing this as a reference to encourage a broader interest in medicinal plants.
Please use this as a jumping-off point, but always do your own research and verify anything you read with multiple sources.
It’s always possible to have an adverse reaction to any medicinal herb, and plenty of people are allergic to even gentle herbs like chamomile. Always consult your doctor or a certified herbalist before trying any new medicinal plant. Often, they can have unintended reactions in combination with other herbs and supplements, and many herbs have side effects even when they are effective for their intended purpose.
If you are seriously interested in herbal medicine, I’d suggest investing in a course in herbal medicine, and I’d recommend any of the online courses put out by the Herbal Academy of New England. Specifically, the introduction to herbal medicine course and the family herbalist group of courses.
Interested in making other homemade herbal tinctures?
- St. John’s Wort Tincture
- Yarrow Tincture
- Chickweed Tincture
- Elderberry Tincture
- Dandelion Tincture
- Burdock Tincture
- Echinacea Tincture
Herbal Medicine Making
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