The Magical Plant
This week I have been studying Lavender essential oil. I am sure most people are familiar with it in one form or another. It’s always listed as one of the top essential oils in every list I have seen. Since this is the case, I thought it would be a great topic to study and write about.
The Lavender (genus Lavandula) plant is a member of the mint family. It’s native to countries bordering the Mediterranean. Now days these plants are grown in many countries and are common in herb gardens for their fragrant leaves and attractive pinkish purple, violet to blueish-indigo flowers.
For thousands of years Lavender has been used therapeutically, as a perfume, as a soap and even as a flavoring. I have never eaten Lavender. Have you? I would love to hear from anyone that has consumed it as a flavoring, as this was new to me. Anyone? 🙂
The word “Lavender” is derived from the Latin word lavandula, which comes from the Latin word lavare which means “to wash”.
I am happy to report that many scientific studies have been made recently to determine the validity of using Lavender for therapeutic use. It seems to me the evidence is accumulating, and this is an awesome thing!
The use of Lavender has been documented for over 2500 years. Here are some interesting tidbits from history regarding this awesome plant.
The Romans used Lavender oils for:
- Antiseptic and healing qualities
- Scenting the air
Ancient Egyptians used Lavender for perfume and mummification purposes.
The Greeks used Lavender for back aches and to fight insomnia.
In Medieval and Renaissance France, women that washed clothes were known as “lavenders”. The plant was used as a soap and clothes were laid to dry on Lavender bushes. It was also used to ward off infection and heal wounds.
During the Great Plague in London (17th Century), Lavender was used as a remedy.
Lavender is known to speed up healing of wounds (cuts, bruises and burns). In fact, in the early 20th century, a chemist by the name of René-Maurice Gattefossé accidently burned his hand while working in his laboratory. He placed his hand in the only liquid nearby (a vat of Lavender essential oil). To his surprise, his injured hand healed quickly and he was left with only a little scarring. After this discovery he continued to study essential oils and the healing properties of plants. In fact, he coined the word Aromatherapy.
Improves Sleep and Insomnia
Inhaling Lavender is known to improve quality of sleep and alleviate insomnia. This is due to its sedative and calming properties. Unlike most prescription drugs, Lavender does not cause unwanted side effects.
To gain the benefits of Lavender essential oils for a better sleep, you may rub 3-5 drops directly on your temples and neck or add 10-15 drops into your bathwater and relax in the tub for a while before heading to bed. Diffusing this oil prior to bedtime or while you sleep will also improve sleep and relax your body.
Many studies have shown that Lavender helps to reduce pain. Inflammation and pain can be eased by rubbing the oil on the painful area of the body.
A combination of Lavender, Marjoram, Peppermint and Black Pepper was found to ease neck pain when applied daily. (I would recommend you mix these with a carrier oil before applying) (1)
Recent studies show that Lavender essential oil may help to ease symptoms of premenstrual symptoms (PMS).
Many women in the reproductive stage of life experience a wide range of symptoms prior to their periods. Despite PMS being so common there is no one single treatment that is universally recognized as effective. For this reason, many women try alternative therapies such as aromatherapy (Lavender, for example).
One recent study revealed that Lavender essential oil can help ease menstrual pain and cramping. Simply massage onto the lower abdomen when needed. (2)
A study performed in 2016 showed that Lavender may be an effective treatment for alopecia areata (hair loss). This is a condition in which hair is lost in all or some areas of the body. (3)
I’m sure most of us have heard of free radicals. They can be very dangerous and may cause damage to your body. Free radicals come from normal metabolic processes in the human body or from sources such as X-Rays, cigarettes, air pollutants, industrial chemicals, some foods and various other sources.
The body’s natural response to free radical damage is to create antioxidant enzymes. Recent studies have shown that Lavender oil increases the activity of the body’s most powerful antioxidants. This is great news!
Natural Treatment for Diabetes
Much more research is needed in this area, however some studies have been performed and have shown promising results in the prevention and reversal of diabetes. (4)
Improve Mood and Reduce Stress
Many recent studies have been made in the area of using Lavender to reduce stress and improve mood. One study published by the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice found that taking large amounts of Lavender essential oil internally alleviates depression, sleep disturbance and anxiety. I would not recommend this unless you are under the care of a qualified medical professional, however this is wonderful news!
It is also great to know that there are very little to no side effects or withdrawal symptoms associated with Lavender.
Brain Function Support
There have been several studies to support the idea that Lavender may be helpful in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (8), Dementia (9), Stroke (10) and other cognitive impairments. Researchers believe that Lavender’s neuroprotective effects are due to its antioxidant properties.
To gain the benefits of Lavender essential oil, inhale it directly from the bottle, use a diffuser or apply it topically to the back of neck and temples. You may want to dilute it with a carrier oil if you have sensitive skin.
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Promotes Healthy Skin
Lavender is known to help many skin conditions. Some conditions include:
- Canker Sores
- Allergic Reactions
- Age Spots
- Signs of Aging
To gain the benefits of Lavender essential oil for your skin, mix 3-4 drops with Jojoba oil or coconut oil and massage into skin. You can also add Lavender EO to your face or body wash. Another great essential oil for your skin is Frankincense. Mix Lavender and Frankincense with a carrier oil and apply to skin every morning, before bed and after a bath or shower. It will do wonders!
Do you suffer from headaches or migraines? Lavender oil might be the answer for you. It is known to help relieve tension and works as a sedative, anti-anxiety and calming agent. (11)
Inhale Lavender oil for 15 minutes to reduce the pain of a migraine headache. You may like to try combining a few drops each of Lavender and Peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil and rub on your temples and back of neck for pain relief. Diffusing these oils is also an option.
Natural Perfume/Air Freshener
Many perfumes and air fresheners are very strong and some people can’t tolerate the intense aromas. If you would like to try a natural perfume then give Lavender essential oil a try. It’s great for both men and women.
There are numerous ways to use Lavender as a perfume or an air freshener. It’s so versatile and easy to do. Some suggestions are:
- Use topically (2-3 drops) on your skin or hair, with or without a carrier oil. It is considered safe in most cases to use Lavender without a carrier oil; this is NOT the case for most essential oils.
- Add a few drops of Lavender to a spray bottle with water. Spray yourself and almost anything else, so easy!
- Add a few drops to your lotions or even your shampoo!
Add a couple drops of Lavender oil to your favorite carrier oil and apply to dry, chapped lips.
Ease the Discomfort of Sunburn
Add a few drops of Lavender to your favorite carrier oil and apply gently to your sunburn to prevent itching and peeling.
Ease Stomach Upset/Motion Sickness
Are you prone to motion sickness when you ride in the car or fly in a plane? If so, you may want to spray some Lavender on your clothes or rub some onto the back of your neck and temples. Lavender can be soothing for an upset stomach.
The above information is not exhaustive. There are many more ailments that Lavender can be used for such as acne, allergies, asthma, athlete’s foot, chicken pox, colic, dermatitis, earache, flatulence, insect bites, scabies, sprains, strains, stretch marks, vertigo, whooping cough…the list goes on. Lavender is truly a magical plant.
Like almost all essential oils, Lavender EO can promote general mental and physical health (overall well-being!).
In this article I have added many links to studies that have been performed to better understand the benefits of Lavender. It’s great to see scientific research being done on the use of Lavender and many other natural remedies that have been used for thousands of years.
Do you have Lavender essential oil in your medicine cabinet? I do, however until this research I was not aware of all the benefits it could offer me. I am pretty happy I chose to write on this topic. Everyone should pick up a bottle of this essential oil. As you can see, it can come in pretty handy! 🙂
If you like to blend oils, you may be interested to know that Lavender falls into the middle to top note category. For more information about notes and blending oils check out my article titled Essential Oil Notes-What does this Mean?
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I would love to hear from you if you have any comments about Lavender essential oils or aromatherapy in general. Please feel free to use the box provided below.
Oh, just a reminder, if you have ever eaten food with Lavender as an added flavor I would love to hear about it. I really can’t imagine liking it…sorry to say! It seems like I would feel like I was eating flowers. Anyhow…
I hope you have a fantastic week, stay happy and healthy!
Angela (founder of Your Aromatherapy Store)
I would like to remind you that essential oils are very POTENT and should be used with common sense and caution. Always read the labels. If you are currently taking any prescribed medication it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before using essential oils.
If you are concerned about allergies, you may want to perform a patch test on your skin.
It is also good to be aware that some essential oils are photo toxic. Avoid the sun as necessary when using these oils.
Please know that some oils are not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing.
Essential oils are considered “complementary and alternative medicines” and are not always a substitute for professional medical intervention and advice. If you are experiencing severe physical or mental illness it is best to contact a medical professional.