For the Love of Lavender
Oh lovely lavender! With spring just around the corner. What better way to lull oneself to sleep than with the distinct scent of lavender? Heavenly herbaceous, balsamic with woody undertones. The benefits of lavender have been known and cherished for thousands of years. Best known for it’s relaxing aroma, lavender has many healing agents that are often overlooked.
Surprisingly gentle with very little medical contradictions, lavender works to balance the body. It lowers sympathetic nerve activity, then increases parasympathetic nerve activity as needed. Lavender has not only been found to alleviate stress, but also stimulate arousal. Adaptogenic in nature, this is an herb worth having around.
In the realm of essential oils and aromatherapy, many experts agree:
“When in doubt, use lavender!”
Lavender is one of my favorite scents to use in DIY body care, such as body butter and homemade scrubs. Besides being used in a relaxing bath, lavender good to use around your home due to its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. One of the best ways to keep lavender on hand is by concentrated oil called essential oils.
The bright purple, flowering tops are concentrated down to their botanical properties through steam distillation.
This removes all the impurities and makes all the beneficial compounds available.
Lavender oil is generally recognized as safe for oral consumption, as long as the bottle is listed for oral use. Always check before applying. Dilute one drop in a glass of water, or tablespoon of honey.
Here are a few reasons why you should love lavender:
Aging occurs partially from oxidation, a chemical run off from the conversion of oxygen. There is no way of escaping oxidation, as even breathing and moving our muscles cause this effect. Consider it the price of living. While there is no way of escaping, we can reduce its damage with antioxidants, and avoiding expedients such as smoking and refined foods. Many plants, herbs, fungi, fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants. Some vitamins and minerals can also be antioxidants [ A, C, E, Selenium, Zinc ] but not all.
The reason why we don’t like oxidation is because it creates free radicals, unstable electrons that cause cellular damage. Think of a pinball machine game, and free radicals are the pinballs banging and whacking up against everything that it comes across.
While there are numerous classifications and roles for antioxidants, they fight free radicals simply in two ways:
- Protecting the cellular wall
- Donating a hydrogen atom to stabilize the free radical, without becoming a free radical itself
Lavender is potent in antioxidants and protects cell from mutagens. One of lavender’s prominent components is lavandulol, which provides both an antioxidant effect on the cellular level and the source of the name lavender. Linalool and linalyl acetate provide inflammatory relief. This compound brings calming sedative effects and cellular benefit. Lab rats fed perillyl alcohol from lavender had lower rates of colon cancer and less multiplication of tumors.
Lavender is wonderful for:
- Acne– antibacterial & anti-fungal properties can improve acne
- Sunburns– apply thinly with a heavy dose of coconut oil
- Wound Healing– swab a drop of essential oil on a bandage over wound
- Fungal infections like athlete’s foot and candida
- Skin Ulcers
- Makes a great alternative to insect repellent
Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying to the skin.
Cardiovascular & Neurological Balance
For the longest time, I thought aromatherapy was just a psychological effect on the body. Until I learned that essential oils are so concentrated, they can pass through the cell membrane! Because they are so highly concentrated, it is crucial to only use high quality, therapeutic grade oils. Cheaper alternatives are typically adulterated with perfumes or chemicals; things you don’t want slipping into the cell as well.
Studies have shown that lavender can reduce anxiety, depression and difficulties such as insomnia. It promotes restful sleep by reducing blood pressure and having a strong sedative effects. The relaxing scent has shown to help relieve a spectrum of ailments- Postpartum depression, Parkinson’s disease, seizures, and vertigo just to name a few. Diffusing the scent has even been shown to help children with hyperactivity or ADHD.
Lavender Can Help With Migraines
Lavender beat the placebo hands down in a study done on people who suffer from migraines. Dab a little lavender essential oil on your temples next time you experience a migraine or headache. I particularly love this lavender roller-ball from Doterra, because it’s easily portable and already diluted with a carrier oil.
Opens the Lungs
Diffusing lavender oil at bedtime or sprinkling some on your pillowcase will not only help you sleep, but breathe better too. Inhalation of lavender has also been shown to help with seasonal allergies.
The floral note and aromatic compounds of geraniol and eucalyptol give way to the signature scent that is lavender. They also help open the lung and can improve lung function. Lavender is even known to improve asthma by suppressing the activation of mucous secretion and allergic airway inflammation.
Lavender has been found to help relieve issues with diabetes, too! In one study, participants who diffused lavender over six weeks had better insulin management compared to the control group. It wasn’t just the antioxidants that helped alleviate symptoms, but how it helped the patients be more relaxed and slept better. It holistically helps the pancreas and other accessory organs. The antioxidants help with the oxidative stress on already compromised organs, when diffused or applied topically.
Type 1 Diabetes: where the body does not create insulin, or attacks cells that do create insulin as an autoimmune response.
Type 2 Diabetes: overworked or damaged pancreas, cannot produce insulin properly. Typically brought on by poor lifestyle choices such as a high sugar diet.
Lavender has been shown to help both types of diabetes, although Type 1 diabetes is not reversible.
Lavender has a soothing, analgesic effect on the body. This is why is it useful in wound healing, insect bites and burns. Applied topically, diluted lavender oil has shown to have similar analgesic effects as pain relievers such as tramadol. Inhalation of lavender can help with chronic pain and inflammation too. While it has been shown to decrease pain symptoms and help patients require less pain medication, it should not be used as a sole analgesic.
Next time you give your partner a massage, trying applying some lavender and peppermint oil to your rub.
Always test out a new oil in a small area of the body beforehand to check for sensitivity and dilute your oils with a coconut, olive, jojoba or grapeseed oil.
For the love of food & all that’s good
- Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils 6th Edition [Aroma Tools]