January 20, 2017 3 min read
Lavender oil is one of the most versatile and safe oils in the herbal repertoire. Whether you need to relax after a stressful day, help a wound stay clean and heal properly, calm an allergy attack, or relieve pain, lavender will be helpful to you!
In our day of medical sterility and readily available antibiotics, here are the top 5 reasons why lavender is still just as beneficial to your skin as it ever has been:
1. Healing properties- lavender is an effective burn treatment because it aids in cell renewal. It seems to help cells release a growth factor which is an important aspect of wounds closing. At the same time, other compounds in lavender oil seem to stop scar tissue formation, and still others seem to decrease inflammation. All these add up to wound healing.
2. Antiseptic- both antibacterial and anti-fungal- in several experiments, lavender oil was shown to be effective at killing multiple strains of dangerous bacteria, including E. coli (common cause of food poisoning) and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While lavender oil isn't the strongest antiseptic oil (thyme oil is even more powerful), it is nonetheless effective while still being gentle on skin. Lavender has also been shown to be effective at killing the fungi responsible for many skin & nail infections. In this way, it is better than many medications which only target either bacteria or fungi.
3. Anti-inflammatory- In a study with rats, inhaled lavender was effective in reducing airway congestion and drainage and was suggested as a viable treatment for bronchial asthma. Diffusing it or even just smelling it helps many people with seasonal allergies and asthma. An earlier study on mice showed lavender applied to the skin stopping allergic reactions by the way it prevents histamine release in the body (a natural anti-histamine).
4. Analgesic- Lavender is a fairly effective pain reliever. Many studies have been done on this aspect of lavender-- it's got potential as a migraine treatment as well as for people with chronic pain, and some are even suggesting it be used in acute pain settings (such as after surgeries). In another study, lavender and its subcompound, linalool, was soothing and kept mice from biting and licking irritated injection spots.
5. Aromatherapeutic properties- mood stabilizer and relaxation aid- since this is probably the most well-known effect of lavender, it's also been the most researched lately. You've surely heard of lavender sachets or lavender scented baby shampoo, both aimed at helping people unwind and get ready for a good night's sleep. When studied, lavender shows tremendous potential at treating all sorts of depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, and insomnia, because of its powerful interaction with the human nervous system. Studies have shown that smelling lavender not only helps relax and encourage sleep, but it affects the quality of sleep! The positive changes in blood chemistry have been measured after just smelling the oil! One study involving elderly Japanese people showed a reduction in falls and agitation in those who smelled a lavender patch as opposed to those who did not-- this seems to show that the smell allowed them to focus better and generally be more alert, though less tense. Oil used in massage is also absorbed into the body and effects can be measured.
Remember, do make sure that the lavender-scented products you are using actually contain lavender. Far too many are scented with a combination of artificial smells that end up smelling like lavender, but these will not have any of the benefits of lavender, and, depending on what else is in the products, could actually provoke allergic reactions and exacerbate problems. Also be aware that there are many varieties of lavender grown, and that only Lavandula angustfolia should be used on burns & wounds; oils from hybrid varieties will not be as helpful. Real lavender just can't be beat! (not to mention, it's gorgeous!)
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