What Are The Benefits of Lavender?
When you think of lavender, you just might think of a color, a flower, or even a purple summer cocktail. But, lavender is so much more. It is that calming breath when your heart is racing with anxiety, the smile when you see clearer skin, and the peaceful pause when you finally feel relief from your tension headache. For thousands of years, Lavandula Angustifolia (lavender) has been used around the world for its plentiful health benefits.
The Lavender Plant is native to the Mediterranean region, and ancient societies began working with lavender. Ancient Egyptians were found to have used lavender in their medicines, massage oils, and cosmetics. The ancient Greeks and Romans relied on lavender as a treatment for depression, insomnia, and to treat skin ailments. In fact, they even used lavender on the battlefield to help sterilize and treat injuries.
Today, lavender is still a natural option used around the world for its many health benefits and a surprising number of other benefits. From the inside out, lavender can be used for its benefits on an amazing number of mental and physical health issues. The most common way that lavender is used is through being processed into an essential oil, which is then used for aromatherapy, inhalation, massage, or direct application with a carrier oil. But there are also lavender teas, lavender soaps, lavender sprays, and uses for the plant itself.
Internationally, lavender has been studied for its soothing effects for psychological benefits including assistance with reducing depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Inhaling lavender vapors has been shown to help with congestion, coughs, sinusitis, allergies and even asthma. This is especially helpful during cold and flu season. Applying lavender essential oils with a carrier oil or cream, allows the benefits of lavender to be directly applied. The anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties of the lavender plant mean that a variety of skin issues including acne, eczema, minor wounds and sunburns can benefit from the application of lavender essential oil. Not only does the lavender oil help to decrease the discomfort felt by these conditions, it helps to promote healing and regenerative growth.
See below for additional recommendations on the uses and benefits of lavender.
Lavender Uses and Benefits
When lavender is used in aromatherapy, it can help lower stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and improve your immune system. The research also supports that reflexology massage treatments with essential oils and essential oil massages have a marked impact on anxiety and depression. A randomized controlled trial published in February 2018 in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that women who inhaled lavender essential oil had improved premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Specifically, they reported experiencing lower anxiety, depression, and nervousness, which are common PMS symptoms that affect many women. These research findings were mirrored in a 2012 study of postpartum women who were suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. Within two months, the women who inhaled lavender reported significantly better improvement in their symptoms compared to the women who did not receive the lavender inhalations. A research study that was conducted in Taiwan in 2012 showed an improvement in the participants’ ability to fall asleep and stay asleep when their pillows and bedsheets were sprayed with lavender essential oils (CITE). Lavender sprays, diffused essential oils, applying essential oils, lavender massage before bed are all effective ways to help your mind and body relax to fall asleep.
A natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, lavender can neutralize the pain and itching of minor wounds, bites, and deeper discomforts. Headaches, including migraine headaches and tension headaches, can benefit from lavender because it works as a natural anti-inflammatory treatment. It can help lower the inflammation causing the headache. For nervous tension causing pain in your neck, shoulders, or other places in your body. A therapeutic massage with lavender oil, a hot bath with lavender essential oil, or a lavender bath, can have a marked improvement in relaxing nervous tension and reducing the associated pain. Either a massage or a soak with lavender essential oils can ease tired muscles, back pain, sore feet, and joints. For minor wounds, irritated skin, and even sunburns lavender essential oil, lavender soaps, or lavender spray may soothe, sanitize, and stimulate tissue regrowth and healing.
Benefits of Lavender Essential Oils
Research supports using lavender for the reduction of anxiety and depression. Diffusing lavender essential oils or breathing the lavender oil applied to your wrist can decrease anxiety, lower stress, and improve your mood. Over time this can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. While lavender will not cause immediate drowsiness, either breathing in the aroma of lavender or applying lavender essential oils can help you destress and relax so that you can fall and stay asleep.
When you have a cold or your allergies are making you stuffy, diffusing lavender essential oils to help relieve coughing, sinusitis, and cold symptoms. Or, before you go outside, you can apply a little lavender oil to your wrists to be able to breathe in the benefits of lavender aromatherapy on the go to improve your sinuses during allergy season. You can also massage lavender essential oil into your chest to help combat congestion whether from allergies, colds, or asthma.
The comforting and clearing properties of lavender essential oils extend to helping with the elimination of pain. Gently rubbing the lavender essential oil on pressure points on the neck and temples can rapidly provide relief for a variety of headaches. Massaging lavender essential oils into the pain area can provide inflammation relief. But, a quick and easy option for tired and painful muscles, muscle spasms, and cramps is to apply a cool towel soaked in a mixture of lavender essential oils and water can be applied directly to the problem area. You can help recover your foot pain at the end of a long day by soaking your feet in a mixture of drops of lavender essential oils, salts such as Epson salts, and cool water.
The natural anti-inflammatory properties of lavender mean that it can quickly improve a variety of skin issues including eczema and acne. If you or your child struggles with eczema, lavender essential oil will sooth the irritation, reduce redness, improve itching, prevent infections, and even help heal the skin. These benefits can be enhanced by mixing with a high moisture oil like coconut oil.
When applied directly to acne both the appearance and elimination of acne can be benefits of lavender. Rather than drying out your skin, lavender essential oil helps regulate the oil production by providing both moisture and clarifying treatments. And, if you have acne scars, lavender can still help. Applying lavender essential oils to your scars by adding them to your existing skin care products or directly with a carrier oil can help reduce the appearance of scars both short term and long term. It helps to promote your skin’s regrowth and heal over the scars. This can help reduce the existing scar. Plus, these benefits can be enhanced by mixing the lavender essential oil with black seed oil or Vitamin E oil, which also help in the healing of scars.
If you are looking to encourage hair growth because of hair loss, including from alopecia, lavender essential oil massaged into your scalp with a carrier oil like castor oil, coconut oil, or olive oil can stimulate hair growth. While it can be mixed with other essential oils like tea tree or rosemary essential oils for added stimulation, lavender oil is a gentle option if your scalp is sensitive or prone to irritation.
There are so many amazing health benefits of lavender, and these recommendations are just the beginning.
A quick reminder, some people may be allergic to lavender or have side effects from using it. It is always a good idea to try spot testing any essential oil before you begin using it, and this includes lavender essential oils. To help prevent side effects including irritation, essential oils should be applied with a carrier oil. As always, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should check with your doctor before treating yourself with lavender.