Lavender is a flowering plant in the mint family that can be used to create an essential oil. This essential oil is packed with numerous health benefits, including ones affecting emotional, physical, physiological, and mental health. Some of these benefits include the elimination of nervous tension, treatment of problems related to the respiratory, urinary, and digestive systems, enhancement of blood circulation, and disinfection of the skin and scalp, as well as numerous other health benefits. It is also an effective bug repellent, and bug bite treatment!
Use as a Perfume
In addition to all of the health benefits and practical applications that lavender oil can provide, lavender has also been used in perfumes for many years. This is because lavender has a very pleasant smell. The word lavender itself comes from the Latin word Lavare, meaning “to wash”, alluding to the clean, fresh scent that many people associate with lavender’s smell. Because of this clean, fresh smell, lavender is used in perfumes, aromatherapy, potpourri, soaps, and detergents. It is a very popular scent and combined with it’s multiple uses makes it an extremely ubiquitous plant.
How Lavender Oil Is Made
Lavender oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant by steam distillation, a process that is often used for the extraction of many different essential oils and fragrances. Steam is passed through the lavender flowers, and the resulting steam contains the extracted oil of the plant. This steam is then cooled into a liquid and used as an oil. Once an oil, the lavender extracts can be used for the many applications outlined below.
Benefits of Lavender Oil
Coping with Anxiety
This benefit of lavender oil is generated largely from that clean, refreshing smell that lavender is so famous for. The smell is said to calm the mind, slow your rushing thoughts and easing anxieties in a large number of people. One study found that, over a seven day period, repeated exposure to lavender oils and their accompanying scent reduced the anxiety levels of mice. It made them less aggressive and allowing them to react more calmly to stressful situations.
Lavender oil has also shown to be useful in treating anxiety in humans, as well as the many symptoms that accompany anxiety such as depression, tension caused by anxiety, headaches and migraines caused by anxiety, sleeplessness, as well as emotional stress.
Slowing Mental Decline
In addition to helping with anxiety, lavender has been shown to help with other mental issues, particularly those associated with memory, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s that may approach as we age. One study found that mice, when injected with certain chemical compounds contained in lavender, has improved memory and cognitive capabilities.
The study is being used to develop the possibility of lavender to be used in memory-decline prevention drugs in the future. That said, it is not safe to consume or inject oils into yourself, so please do not try this one at home. If you wish to see some of the effects, try rubbing this essential oil on your temples for increased concentration.
Treating Respiratory Disorders
Lavender oil is used widely in the prevention and treatments of numerous respiratory illnesses such as the common cough, sore throats, and congestion associated with flus, colds, and sinus congestion, and well as more serious conditions such as whooping cough, tonsillitis, asthma, and laryngitis. This treatment comes from the soothing qualities of lavender.
This soothing effect provides relief from congestion, as it aids in the breakdown of mucus, as well as providing pain relief that can often accompany these illnesses. This relief can be provided through diffusion of the lavender oil or rubbing of the oils on the skin around the affected areas. Diffusion takes the essential oil and returns it to gaseous form, allowing the lavender extract to be inhaled. Placing the oil directly on the skin allows the user to target the specific areas that they need relief in, be it around the sinuses, on the chest, or around the throat. Remember, directly drinking essential oils can be dangerous, so while it may be tempting, do not drink lavender oil.
Lavender oil’s can be used as a safe, homeopathic remedy for pain associated many types of injuries and illnesses. These include muscle aches, soreness or tension, sprains, rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis.
Other illnesses such as back and neck aches, pain associated with menstrual cramping can also be cured. This relief can be provided in two ways, through massage or diffusion of the oil. Massaging the affected areas when experiencing pain can provide relief from serious pain. This can also be incorporated into a daily regime to help prevent mild aches and pains from being a regular occurrence.
Application of this essential oil should be done in the same way that the oil is used to treat respiratory problems.It should be rubbed directly on the problem area. Lavender oil can also be used to treat pain through diffusion of oils into the air. One study showed that when lavender was diffused in the air after surgery, patients experienced pain relief. A similar effect can experienced at home through the use of essential oils placed into a diffuser or an inhaler.
Perhaps one of lavender oil’s most touted use is as a natural remedy for insomnia. Because lavender oil has the ability to reduce anxiety and restlessness when inhaled, it is also often able to help individuals who are struggling to fall asleep do just that. When the anxieties running through our minds are calmed, we are able to fall asleep. Inhaling lavender is also shown to regulate heart rate.
As a decreasing heart rate is an important part of falling asleep, lavender can help an anxious sleeper to fall asleep faster. Some studies show that lavender oil, when used as a sleep aid can be more effective than taking an over the counter sleeping pill. Lavender oil is definitely a safer and healthier alternative than putting chemicals into your body. To use lavender oil as a sleep aid, oil is diluted into a spray that can go in the air surrounding the sleeper or directly onto the pillow and bed linens.
The possibility of lavender oil being effective to slow cancer in humans is far from proven. However, some exciting developments have taken place in animal studies. While studies have only been done on mice, lavender oil was shown to slow the progression of breast cancer in those mice. While there is still significant research that needs to be done, the potential of lavender oil to be anticarcinogenic is very exciting.
Treating Acne and Other Skin Ailments
Lavender oil can be used to treat acne in some individuals. It is commonly suggested and supported as a home remedy by some dermatologists. The properties of lavender oil are effective at minimizing pores in teenages and adults, both of whom can be afflicted with acne. Lavender oil soothes irritation of the skin that is caused by the acne, which results from a bacterial infection. Once soothed, the acne will lose some of the redness and irritation that are present from acne. From there the skin can begin to rid itself of bateria and acne.
Continued application of Lavender oil after the acne has cleared up will help the pores to close. This will prevent scarring from skin that is left exposed for too long. It will also hep to prevent additional bacteria from entering the skin and cause additional acne.
To see this benefit, adding this essential oil to skin care lotions and creams will do the trick. There are also products available commercially that contain lavender essential oils that are intended specifically to treat acne and scarring.
Helps with Wrinkles
In addition to treatment and prevention of acne, lavender oil can be used for the skin in a variety of other ways. Studies have shown that applying lavender oil to the skin can prevent the appearance and depth of wrinkles. There is also evidence that lavender oil can provide some relief to those experiencing psoriasis and eczema, as both of these skin conditions are at least partially caused by inflammation.
Finally, lavender oil can be used as a replacement for, or used in combination with, aloe vera. Both of these plant-based oils help to speed up the healing process of skin after experiencing a sunburn. For all of these applications, the lavender essential oil should be applied directly to the skin and rubbed into the problem area.
Helping with Urinary Infections
Lavender oil can be incredibly helpful in treatment of a myriad of urinary infections because of its ability to increase urine production. This allows toxins to be flushed from the body. Urinary infections are often caused by built up bacteria along the urethra, or in the kidneys.
Increasing the urine passing through allows the bacteria to be pushed out of the body faster. This reduces the amount of time it takes to recover from this type of infection. In addition to increased urine production, lavender can help stabilize hormonal imbalances and can reduce inflammation in the bladder. There are both important.
Hormonal imbalances can often be the cause of bacterial growth within the urinary tract system, so regulating hormones can prevent future outbreaks from occurring. Reduction of inflammation within the bladder can help to soothe some of the pain and cramping that can often accompany an infection of the urinary tract. To use lavender oil to relieve urinary tract infections, rubbing the oil on the body parts that are experiencing pain can help to reduce cramping and pain. To address internal issues, teas available containing lavender made specifically to address urinary health.
Increasing Blood Circulation
Lavender oil has also been shown to have some pretty miraculous benefits for heart health. When inhaled through diffusion or an inhaler, lavender has been shown to increase the circulation of blood within the body. This can have multiple benefits for the heart. Increased blood circulation helps to lower blood pressure.
Hypertension, or even just high blood pressure, are both very prevalent issues. Another health issue that can be protected against with lavender oil is a heart attack. While there is no way to entirely prevent a heart attack if there is significant cholesterol build up in the arteries, but increased blood circulation can promote the muscle strength of the heart, helping it to defend itself against any attacks. To see benefits of increased blood circulation, lavender should be inhaled through a diffuser or inhaler, or rubbed directly on the skin to be absorbed into the body.
Aiding in Digestion
One surprising benefit of lavender oil is its ability to aid in digestion. Similar to the way the oil can flush toxins out of the body through increased urine production, lavender oil stimulates the digestion process, helping food to better break down, which in turn helps the body to expel toxins once again. This digestion aid has shown to help those dealing with indigestion, stomach pain, gas, vomiting and diarrhea experience relief.
In addition to stimulating the digestion process, the lavender oil can be used to help with painful cramping or inflammation that is often associated with stomach issues. To use lavender in this way, lavender oil should be taken in through a tea or rubbed on the problem areas such as the abdomen to be absorbed through the skin.
Improving Scalp Health
Lavender oil can be used in a myriad of ways when it comes to scalp health. Lavender oil has been shown to stimulate hair growth in both men and women. As such, it is often used by women to help grow longer and stronger hair, and used by men to combat early hair loss. It is also often given to patients with Alopecia, a disease where the skin rejects hair follicles and causes all hair to fall out.
In all of these situations, the lavender oil is rubbed on the area where hair is desired and the oil will stimulate the skin. This stimulation is said to lead to increased hair growth.
Another great use for lavender oil is in the treatment of lice and their nits and eggs. To rid yourself of lice, you often need to kill off the adult lice, as well as pick out all of the lice eggs. Lavender oil works very well in both of these regards. The oil suffocates the adult lice, allowing you to wash them out of your hair. It also makes the nits easier to grab, as they loosen from your scalp because of the slickness of the oil.
A great non-medical use for lavender oil is as a bug repellent! The aroma of lavender oil repels all kinds of insects including mosquitoes, moths and midges. Apply to your exposed skin and you should have significantly less bugs and their accompanying itchy bites!
This is a much safer, more natural bug repellent than spraying yourself with those chemical bug repellent sprays. In the event that you forgot to put your lavender oil on before you went outside, this essential oil can also treat bug bites. In the same way that the oil reduces inflammation present in acne, lavender oil can reduce the irritation surrounding a bug bite, relieving some of the itchiness and pain associated with the bite or sting.
It can seem like lavender oil is a miracle cure that can be used for everything. While it has many uses there are some situations in which lavender oil should not be used. Pregnant or breast-feeding individuals should not use lavender oil.
Not For Diabetics
It is also not recommended for use by people afflicted with diabetes. If you have very sensitive skin, it is always a possibility that lavender oil can irritate your skin or produce an allergic reaction within you. It is best to start with a small application area as a test. If you don’t experience a reaction from that, you are likely okay to apply to a larger area.
You should never take pure lavender oil orally. Lavender ingested should only be done through the form of a tea or other product specifically created for ingestion. The safe way to experience the benefits of lavender is to rub the essential oil onto the affected area.
In Conclusion, lavender essential oils can make great improvements in the lives of many individuals, particularly those living with anxiety, acne, respiratory, digestive, or urinary illnesses as well as having the ability to take some of the day to day nuisances away, such as dealing with insects and their resulting bites or easing the pain of a sunburn. However, it is not a miracle oil, and should never be ingested orally or used by those with sensitivities and allergies, diabetes, or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.