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I was introduced to the idea of aromatherapy as a college student. At bedtime, my roommate used to plug in the small essential oil diffuser on her bedside table, lie back, and was soon fast asleep.
But on the other side of the room, I tossed and turned, thinking about the next day’s exam.
But that oil she was diffusing sure smelled good! When I asked her about it, my roommate let me use her diffuser one night. The next morning, I couldn’t remember how or when I’d fallen asleep, but I felt great. I was hooked!
Lavender has a long history as a useful herb.
Its name comes from the Latin “lavare,” meaning “to wash.” The earliest recorded use of lavender comes from ancient Egypt, where lavender oil played a part in the mummification process.
Today, research has proven the ability of lavender to calm the body and mind, even helping with more severe anxiety. And it’s a natural remedy for some troubling physical ailments as well.
Here are just seven ways you can put this sweet-smelling herb to use…
Lavender oil for your body, mind and more
Lavender for anxiety. People who suffer from an anxiety disorder know the feeling of always being on edge and never truly being relaxed. To relieve this sensation, as well as insomnia that often accompanies anxiety, many people turn to benzodiazepines such as Valium or Xanax.
But it’s easy to become dependent on benzodiazepines, and they carry big risks, especially for people over 65. Lavender and lavender oil are safe, effective alternatives.
A German study found that lavender oil was as effective as benzodiazepines for relieving anxiety, without the side effects or potential for abuse.
Lavender for hair loss. Often hair loss is unnoticeable at first until suddenly there’s a huge patch of missing hair. This is known as alopecia areata, a disease for which there is no cure. Small patches of hair loss spread and connect, forming large bald patches.
In one study that covered a period of seven months, 86 patients with this disease massaged either essential oils, including lavender, into their scalp or massaged their scalp without oils. Only 15 percent of the second group showed improvement, compared to 44 percent of those who used essential oils.
Lavender for an upset stomach. Research suggests that consuming culinary lavender is one natural way to cure colitis, probably by fighting disease-causing bacteria in the gut.
Rubbing a few drops of lavender oil on the solar plexus can also calm nausea. And inhaling the aroma of lavender helps calm motion sickness.
Lavender for pain. Lavender oil has analgesic (pain-fighting) and anti-inflammatory properties. Migraine sufferers use it to control symptoms and induce relaxation.
Lavender for memory. Nursing students who took a sniff of lavender right before a test scored significantly higher than their peers, retained more information and were less anxious during testing.
Lavender for fighting germs. Because of its antibacterial properties, lavender can be used as part of a natural soap formula. Add about 15 drops of lavender essential oil to natural unscented castile soap.
Lavender for repelling insects. Several pesky insects really dislike lavender! Houseflies are one of these. Planting lavender bushes near your kitchen window or keeping a lavender mist handy will help keep flies away.
Lavender oil also repels lice. While it is not guaranteed to kill existing infestations, it does repel new nits from settling in your hair, or in the coat of your pet. Add a few drops of lavender oil to your shampoo.
Other ways to enjoy the fragrance of lavender
- Add a few drops of lavender oil to the water in your iron or to your dryer sheet and enjoy both the fragrance and the antibacterial effects on your laundry.
- Tie a bunch of lavender together with some eucalyptus to make your shower smell like a relaxing spa!
- Combine ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup coconut oil and 2 drops of lavender oil for a fragrant exfoliating body scrub.
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- Lavender and sleep: A systematic review of the evidence — European Journal of Integrative Medicine
- Essential oil of lavender in anxiety disorders: Ready for prime time? — The Mental Health Clinician
- A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder — Phytomedicine
- Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice — Toxicology Research
- Randomized Trial of Aromatherapy
Successful Treatment for Alopecia Areata — Archives of Dermatology
- Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil — Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências