Lavender is the most popular essential oil in the world today. Having been used for centuries throughout history for medicinal purposes and as perfume, this little purple flowering plant is widely known to be one of the most versatile in nature, best known for its distinct aroma that has a calm, soothing effect.
Although there are still several gaps in scientific research regarding what lavender can really do for us health-wise, there’s some evidence that suggests it has practical uses in treating some common ailments. And even if it doesn’t exactly live up to being the miracle cure you were hoping for, at least it’s all natural and smells really nice!
Stress and anxiety reduction
There’s a growing body of research confirming that lavender oil has a lot of positive effects on the nervous system and may be effective in treating certain neurological disorders. Improvements in mood and anxiety levels have been seen in several different studies involving both oral use and aromatherapy use of lavender essential oil.
Looking for a safe and effective natural treatment for headaches? Lavender may help. Researches who conducted a placebo-controlled study on people who suffered from headaches discovered that inhaling lavender essential oil for just 15 minutes showed significant pain relief compared to those in the control group who inhaled liquid paraffin.
Those suffering from insomnia and restlessness at night may benefit from inhaling lavender essential oil before bed. A study that investigated the effects of lavender on the olfactory system found that it increased deep sleep in both men and women. Study participants also reported more energy the next morning.
Skin condition treatment
Lavender has antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that can help heal or improve certain skin non-severe conditions. Aromatherapists are known to use it to treat acne, eczema and even fungal infections like candidiasis. Its antioxidant properties may also help reduce the look of age spots.
In addition to the skin conditions mentioned above, lavender can also be effectively used to fight bacteria, prevent infection, reduce pain and speed up the healing process for non-severe burns, cuts, scrapes and wounds. It may even be effective in reducing swelling and improving healing of canker sores.
Muscle and joint pain relief
Lavender’s anti-inflammatory properties coupled with its neurological effect to relieve pain make it a favorite essential oil to use on tired, achey muscles and joints. For these reasons, it’s often used in certain forms of integrative medicine like massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.
Using lavender essential oil
You can use lavender essential oil with a diffuser, purchase natural soy candles that have been scented with it, sprinkle a few drops in your bathwater or add a couple of drops to your pillow at night to enjoy its soothing, therapeutic effects. To use it topically, try adding a drop or two to your favorite carrier oil (like coconut oil) and apply it or massage it directly into the skin.
Keep in mind that like all essential oils, lavender may not be safe for everybody and could cause reactions when touched or inhaled, so make sure you have a good look over the safety guidelines from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy before you use it. As far as taking it orally goes, never consume lavender (or any other essential oil for that matter) unless advised by a knowledgeable and qualified professional.
Photo (edited) via Scott Mills