The sweet and gentle scent of lavender seems to find a pathway straight to the brain to relax away our pains and anxieties as naturally as can be. Indeed, Lavender and Lavender oils offer a variety of natural healing options for those with sleep issues, anxiety, a need to relieve stress, and other health conditions.
Used internally and by olfaction (smell), lavender has been used for centuries as a treatment for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and gastrointestinal distress. Lavender has also been valued for its antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia or officinalis, is a beautiful flowering plant with lilac-colored blossoms that grows natively around the Mediterranean but is now cultivated in sunny locales around the world. It has long been used in soaps and skin creams, but lavender is equally prized as an essential oil that can be rubbed into the temples to relieve migraine or headache pain, into muscles to relieve soreness, or used in aromatherapy to relax body and mind.
In classical Latin, the word lavender means “to wash”.
Lavender flowers and leaves alike are used in medicinal preparations (including lavender tea) that can offer relaxing, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic benefits. Lavender oil should be kept sealed in order to avoid oxidation that can cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin.
10 Health Benefits of Lavender:
Lavender’s medicinal benefits derive primarily from linalool, an alcohol compound that shows some promise in fighting cancers. Lavender is also effective against insomnia, can relax bronchial passages, and has shown positive results in studies targeting alopecia areata.
Several clinical studies have investigated lavender essential oil, in the supplement form of Silexan (made from steam distillation using lavender flowers) for anxiety, restlessness and agitation. A once daily dose of a supplement containing 80 mg was given to the subjects. Results from the study showed that taken orally, lavender extract can be as effective as low-dose benzodiazepines for lessening anxiety.1
Studies have also shown that simply adding drops of lavender oil to an essential oil diffuser placed near a bed at night can improve sleep quality in those with mild insomnia.2 For those who don’t have a diffuser, simply adding a few drops of lavender oil to a pillowcase can help in regulating sleep.
Lavender essential oil can be used topically to treat eczema, ringworm, psoriasis, acne and hives. If you are treating a larger area of skin, add lavender to a carrier oil like coconut oil, which is also helpful for many skin conditions.
Due to its calming and anti-inflammatory lavender essential oil has been found to have promise in treating asthma.3
One drop of lavender can be applied to the palm and the palm cupped gently over the mouth and nose. The lavender is then gently inhaled. A drop of lavender can also be added to a few ounces of water and taken orally.
Studies indicate that lavender can improve cognition in a variety of ways. Via aromatherapy, lavender can help improve accuracy in mathematics. Additionally, lavender aromatherapy was found to improve cognition of dementia patients.3
In a day when prescription pain medication is overprescribed and potentially dangerous, natural alternative to pain are critical. Lavender is one of many effective alternative to pain medication. One study found that foot massage with lavender essential oil reduced blood pressure, wakefulness and pain!3
Keep your lavender essential oil handy in your kitchen. It is wonderful for burns! If you burn yourself, first cool the burn with cold running water to remove the heat. Then apply lavender essential oil “neat” (without diluting) unless you are sensitive to lavender essential oil.
Another reason to keep lavender essential oil handy is to fight a sudden gallbladder attack. One drop of lavender essential oil is added to a glass of cool water and sipped. You can also apply 2 drops of lavender essential oil to your skin, above your gallbladder, where you have pain.
This remedy is also useful for other digestive problems like vomiting, gas, bloating and upset stomach.
You may need to have two little vials of lavender essential oil. It is an excellent remedy for bug bites. Keep a little bottle of lavender in your back pack or purse. (But don’t leave essential oils in your hot car; heat can degrade the oils!)
At the end of the day, a warm bath with Epsom salt (1 cup) and a couple of drops of lavender essential oil will help sooth sore muscles, relax the mind and prepare you for sleep. Be sure to brush your teeth before your bath. You will want to get right into bed after this soothing bath.
As wonderful as lavender may be, it not suitable for everyone. Some people are allergic to lavender. Prolonged use of lavender has been linked to premature hormonal changes in children. Keep in mind that essential oils are very concentrated medicines. It should be used by the drop.
While many can use lavender “neat” (using it topically, without diluting) others will find it too strong. In this case, lavender should be diluted in an appropriate carrier oil, like coconut oil or olive oil. (Do not use hydrogenated oils for carrier oils. In fact, it is best to not use hydrogenated oils at all!)
Because essential oils are so popular, you will find many different brands. Essential oils sold in multilevel markets tend to be pricey, though quality is often high as well. But you will find many essential oils that are quite reasonably priced that will work well for your needs. Beware of very inexpensive oils or oils that do not smell fresh.
When buying essential oils, look for organic oils. Chemicals and pesticides tend to be concentrated in the fat, so non-organic oils may be quite concentrated in chemicals.
Continue reading to see how our readers have benefited from lavender!
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1. Kasper S, Gastpar M, Müller WE, et al. Efficacy and safety of silexan, a new, orally administered lavender oil preparation, in subthreshold anxiety disorder—evidence from clinical trials. Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift. 2010;160(21-22):547–556.
2. Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2005;11(4):631–637
3. Ueno-Iio T1, Shibakura M2, Yokota K1, Aoe M1, Hyoda T1, Shinohata R1, Kanehiro A3, Tanimoto M3, Kataoka M1. Lavender essential oil inhalation suppresses allergic airway inflammation and mucous cell hyperplasia in a murine model of asthma. Life Sci. 2014 Jul 17;108(2):109-15.