Lavender- Nature's Love Letter to You
Updated: Jun 10, 2020
Lavender is nature's love letter to you- the gift the earth has given to your body to soothe you.
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia, commonly known as English Lavender) has been used since the times of the Ancient Greeks to help people relax, for bathing and for cleaning, and for its many medicinal properties. Lavender originated in the Mediterranean and Middle East, and can now be found growing all over the world! The purple flower with stiff stems is part of the mint (Lamiaceae) family which also includes herbs such as basil and rosemary.
The scents of these plants come from their essential oils. Essential oils are volatile organic compounds that can ‘escape’ the plant and pass through the blood brain barrier. Because of this, they have a powerful ability to influence your body’s physiological systems, including your nervous system. Simply smelling these powerful plant compounds can have a profound effect on your body, and utilizing their essential properties can be an important and effective method of natural healing. Most importantly, using plant therapies, such as essential oils, is an extremely safe and very effective alternative and complementary healing modality.
The most well known use of lavender is in aromatherapy because of the plant’s ability to help promote feelings of relaxation and calm. Two primary chemical compounds- Linalool and Linalyl acetate - give lavender its signature scent. Because of the properties of these compounds, lavender essential oil is also extremely effective when applied topically to the skin. These two compounds can be detected in the blood just five minutes after application. When inhaled for just three minutes, lavender can actually increase your theta brain waves- the kind that you experience when you’re falling asleep.
Here are 5 Additional Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender Aromatherapy Decreases Anxiety
A 2014 study noted that lavender decreases anxiety in patients who underwent a major surgery and a summary of the effects of lavender essential oil versus typically-prescribed benzodiazepines and SSRIs show that lavender oil has an anti-anxiolytic effect without any of the side effects that are possible with the modern prescriptions. Some researchers believe that lavender, which is lipophilic (dissolves in fats) may be a safer and more effective treatment for General Anxiety Disorder because there are no known side effects of lavender therapy, compared to the many side effects of modern anxiolytic treatments which have known limited efficacy, known withdrawal symptoms, and general negative side effects. Lavender may also be able to inhibit calcium channels, which is the same mechanism of action of commonly used modern anti-anxiolytic prescriptions.
Aromatherapy with Lavender Promotes Restful Sleep
A randomized, controlled study in 2018 that used the Pittsburgh Quality Sleep Index (PQSI) to determine results of lavender aromatherapy on the quality of sleep of patients receiving chemotherapy showed a significant difference in the results of the group that was given lander aromatherapy, compared to the control group and the group that received tea tree oil. In a separate study, 79 college students with self-reported sleep issues were split into two groups. Each group practiced better sleep hygiene, and one group also used lavender patches made with lavender essential oil in addition to sleep hygiene. The group that used lavender patches reported better sleep and significantly greater feelings of being refreshed after sleep in the morning.
Topical Application of Lavender Speeds Wound Healing and Increases Collagen Production
In 2016, researchers determined that the use of lavender essential oil, when applied to wounds on the skin of rats, promoted the production of collagen, and reduced the size and severity of the wound when compared to no treatment. A similar study found that applying lavender essential oil topically promotes hair growth in mice, due to the reduction of mast cells (the body’s inflammation cells) caused by the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant.
Topical and Internal Use of Lavender Essential Oil Inhibits Growth of Cancer Cells
A significant inhibitory effect of lavender essential oil on cancerous cells was observed in a 2017 study in vitro and in vivo. The main chemical constituents of lavender essential oil were shown to cause cancerous cell die-off, and significantly suppressed the growth of tumors. In addition to the direct results observed, the use of lavender essential oil as an alternative therapy for cancer patients has been proven to have a calming effect when used in therapeutic massage. Studies show that the effects of aromatherapy massage provides immediate and lasting improvements to cancer patients’ symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Internal Use of Lavender as Therapy in Neurological Disorders
In 2013 researchers studied the possibility of reviving lavender as a therapy for neurological disorders. For example, lavender has positive neuroprotective and antioxidant effects on nerves in the brain that are similar to typical, modern therapies for Alzheimers disease. Lavender may also regulate GABA, a neurotransmitter that the body uses to boost mood and produce a calming effect. Scientists have also discovered that lavender essential oil is an effective complementary therapy for patients experiencing neuropathic pain. Since pain management for these patients is often difficult and widely unsuccessful, the use of lavender essential oil for pain relief is a promising option to supplement other therapies.
How to Use Lavender Essential Oil
Diffuse overnight or mix with water and spray onto pillows and bedding to promote restful sleep (see the recipe below)
Apply topically to minor wounds or blemishes on the skin to promote healing.
Massage into neck and spine to relieve tension.
Rub a few drops on your belly to relieve feelings of nervousness and anxiety
Add a drop or two to your shampoo in the shower to support healthy skin and hair
Do It Yourself: Good Night Aromatherapy Spray
Materials & Ingredients
-25 drops Lavender essential oil
-15 drops Wild Orange essential oil
-15 drops Cedarwood essential oil
-5 drops Rosemary essential oil
-4 ounce spray bottle with atomizer spray top
-½ ounce isopropyl alcohol (or clear, high quality organic vodka)
-3 ½ ounces distilled water
-Drop essential oils into the bottom of the spray bottle. Add the alcohol agent and swirl.
-Add the water to the top of the bottle, but not into the neck. You may not need all 3 ½ ounces.
-Twist the spray top onto the bottle and swirl or gently shake to combine.
-Spray onto pillow or bedding, or even your pajamas, before bed!
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Safety of Essential Oil Usage
Just a reminder- it is not safe to consume just any essential oil. Please use caution when consuming essential oils, and follow all safety precautions. If you are not sure about which essential oils are safe to consume, consult your naturopathic doctor.
The information in this post is not intended to provide medical advice. This article is intended to organize and share information that is readily available to the public. Please consult your doctor.