History Of Lavender Usage
If you think back to your first experience with aromatherapy, lavender is likely somewhere in that memory. Lavender essential oil is the most widespread, popular oil on the market. This is no new occurrence, as known uses of Lavender date all the way back to 2500 B.C.E. Ancient Egyptians used Lavender in their mummification process, and taught the Greeks about perfuming their bodies with the wonderful flower. Ancient Romans added lavender to their bath water for its healing properties and to fragrance their bodies. Our word for Lavender today stems from the Latin root “lavare” which means “to wash”. The Romans use of lavender as a medicinal herb began its long history in the field of medicine.
Lavender Essential Oil
Today, lavender is still used by many for its multitude of benefits for the human body, most potently in the form of essential oil. By using pure essential oil, steam distilled from the flowers of the lavender plant (Lavandula angustifolia), you are ensuring the highest potency of the beneficial compounds which make lavender one of the most prized flowers in the world.
Here we will cover the most important and promising medicinal uses of lavender essential oil, and give you ideas on how to bring those benefits into your life.
In The Body
Everywhere you turn nowadays, you see this word. The hype around antioxidants is so grand; you would think they cure cancer or something! Here’s the thing-they just may. Antioxidants occur naturally within the body in response to another buzzword- free radicals. In modern society these free radicals abound unfortunately, from pollutants in the air to chemicals in products to poor dietary intake. As the amount of free radicals within your body increases, the load can be too much to bear for the body’s natural responses. This is where antioxidants step in. And Lavender essential oil just so happens to have more antioxidants than Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Thanks to medicinal studies showing the efficacy of the essential oil, we now know just how potent it can be. One study showed the power Lavender essential oil has to modulate the immune system in response to inflammation and free-radicals. The study also noted the essential oil has “Important therapeutic potential”. In addition, a comparative study of the antioxidant capabilities of some of the most popular essential oils, Lavender was found to have the highest radical scavenging abilities. Free radicals are present in high numbers in the bodies of people with nearly all major diseases, including cancer and diabetes. The more Lavender essential oil you have, the less free radicals you have in your body. And the less of these you have in your body, the better.
On The Skin
Antibacterial & Antimicrobial
In addition to the potent immune modulating capabilities of this relaxing liquid, it is also a known antimicrobial and antibacterial. Dozens of studies have confirmed this fact time and time again. One such study looked at the ability of a group of essential oils, including Lavender, to reduce bacteria in different concentrations. All studied bacteria were found to be susceptible to the essential oils. In another study, not only was the antioxidant potency of Lavender essential oil confirmed, but the oil also showed a good response to bacteria, being effective against four rhinitis-related bacteria. Possibly the most promising article was this one, published in the US National Library of Medicine, which showed the synergistic response of Lavender essential oil when mixed with other oils at fighting off bacteria such as Candida albicans and Staphylococcus aureus, both of which cause many skin and digestive conditions. Both for its antimicrobial and analgesic properties, Lavender essential oil is also commonly used to treat burns and wounds. Apply diluted lavender oil to a fresh cut or burn, and the analgesic effect can reduce pain while the antimicrobial properties protect against infection.
Lavender essential oil can help reduce the appearance of age spots/sunspots on the skin, and help to protect it from further damage. This goes back to the antioxidant benefits of Lavender essential oil. A recent study showed the oil’s amazing ability to help increase your body’s production of three of its key antioxidants, namely catalase, glutathione, and superoxide dismutase. Regular topical application of a skin care blend, such as a mixture of Lavender oil and Jojoba oil three times daily, can work wonders on weathered skin.
In The Brain
Throughout the world there are millions of people who suffer from migraines or tension headaches, many of whom are searching for a natural way to cure them. If this sounds like you, Lavender oil may be just what you are looking for. A recent study investigated Lavender essential oil’s ability to treat migraines. The research showed that the number of people treated with lavender essential oil who responded with a reduction in their migraine symptoms was much greater than that of the control group. The study concluded Lavender essential oil inhalation may be a safe and effective treatment modality for headache sufferers. Simply adding a few drops of the oil to your aromatherapy diffuser and diffusing for 30 minutes to one hour may provide the relief you deserve.
For Better sleep and Insomnia
Lavender essential oil is the perfect cure if you suffer from restless nights or feel as though you often do not get enough sleep. In a study posted to PubMed.gov, Lavender increased the percentage of deep or slow wave sleep in men and women who were exposed to the scent for one half hour prior to sleeping. All tested subjects also reported higher vigor in the morning after lavender exposure. In an additional pilot study, Lavender essential oil proved advantageous in the treatment of insomnia in all patients tested.
For relief from those restless nights, you can simply diffuse 5 drops of Lavender essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser for an hour before bed. Alternatively, a topical ointment of lavender oil, ylang ylang oil and chamomile oil in a carrier like coconut oil makes a great aromatic relaxant for the entire body.
Improves Mood, Reduces Anxiety
Here is where the statistics get a bit mind boggling. Even if you knew Lavender oil was beneficial before, you probably were unaware it is this beneficial.
Lavender oil significantly decreases heart rate and blood pressure. This can be highly beneficial if you are aggravated or in a stressful mood. According to one recent study examining the relaxing effect of Lavender essential oil, the oil increased the power of relaxing theta and alpha brainwaves in the participants, who also noted themselves to be more relaxed, active, and fresher than before inhaling the oil.
The side effects of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat anxiety are often hellacious enough by themselves, and when added to the symptoms generalized anxiety, they can make a horrible cocktail. Luckily, Lavender oil has also shown itself to be effective in treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder. As a matter of fact, in a recent study, A Lavender oil preparation which has no potential for abuse was shown to be as effective as the drug Lorazepam in ameliorating symptoms of GAD. Another such study found that patients exposed to lavender oil showed a significant decrease in depressed mood, and reported feeling more relaxed than before the aromatherapy session.
Another promising study linked exposure to Lavender oil with reduced anxiety and better memory creation, which can be of great promise in the fight against dementia.
Whether on your skin or inhaled, Lavender essential oil is definitely your ally. The relaxing benefits which have been known for centuries are now being backed by scientific studies. As research continues on this potent herb, what more can we expect to see? One thing is for certain, lavender essential oil is a must have for anyone looking to live a long, happy, and stress free life.
Potential Side Effects
Though Lavender essential oil use is considered safe, there may be potential for drug interactions. If you are already prescribed a sleep medication, are pregnant or nursing, or are taking an over the counter sleep aid, talk to your health care practitioner before starting to use lavender essential oil. Most studies to date are related to topical use and inhalation of essential oils. There has been little, if any at all, formal research into lavender essential oil consumption. Though most people experience no adverse side effects when consuming lavender essential oil, you would want to minimize this, as its high potency of antioxidants can cause digestive and systematic upset.