1. ,Lavender (Scientific Name: Lavandula) is one of the most fragrant and highly versatile herbs that you can grow.  I use lavender in all kinds of my at home remedies, and it’s  one of my go-to ingredients for ny handcragted soaps and gift baskets, such as my Tranquil Gift Basket. As you may already know, lavender is used in essential oils, perfumes, in aromatherapy, in traditional herbal medicine, and in the kitchen as a culinary herb. But don’t let this little herb fool you. Lavender is WAY more versatile than just smelling pretty and tasting good…

Here are some interesting facts about lavender that you may not know:

  • The name Lavender comes from the Latin verb, “lavare”, which means “to wash”
  • Lavender is a perennial and comes from the same family as mint
  • Over 2500 years ago, lavender was used in ancient Egypt during the mummification process
  • Back in the Elizabethan times, when baths were not common practice, lavender was used to perfume clothes and bed linen
  • The scent of lavender deters mice, flies, mosquitoes and other pests from the area
  • Lavender oil can be used to soothe aching muscles and joints, reduce anxiety and stress, and to induce sleep
  • It is a commonly used ingredient in potpourri
  • Nectar from lavender plants are used to make high quality honey
  • In the meaning of flowers, lavender can mean devotion, luck, success, happiness or distrust
  • Lavender plants don’t produce seeds; propagation is done by cutting or root divisions
  • Most lavender plants are blue or purple, but there are some varieties that come in pink and yellow

Actions:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-septic
  • Anti-microbial
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Anti-fungal
  • Antidepressant
  • Analgesic – pain relief
  • Nervine – reduces anxiety, stress, insomnia
  • Sedative – calms and induces sleep
  • Bitter – helps with digestion
  • Hypnotic – sleep inducing
  • Cholagogue – promotes discharge of bile from the system, purging it.
  • Carminative – relieves and prevents gas
  • Cardiovascular – primarily in women, reduces high blood pressure

Health Benefits of Lavender & Lavender Essential Oils:

Lavender is probably one of the most commonly used herbs on the market, and with good reason. The benefits of this little plant have been studied by herbalists, doctors, and scientists for hundreds of years. The many benefits associated with lavender are so great, if after reading some of these benefits you don’t run out and grab a bottle of lavender essential oil for your medicine cabinet I would be extremely surprised. Some of the incredible benefits include the following:

Repels Bugs

The scent of lavender, and lavender essential oil, is pretty potent stuff, and many types of bugs can’t stand it. Insects such as mosquitoes, midges, and moths are repelled by it’s smell. Use dried lavender, instead of chemical filled moth balls, in storage containers, linen closets, etc. to keep pesky moths away. To safely apply lavender essential oils to the skin, mix with a carrier oil (such as almond oil or olive oil) and apply directly to the skin to repel bugs naturally from using you as a hearty snack. If the bugs do bite, lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that will reduce irritation and/or pain associated with bug bites.

Relieves Stress & Anxiety

Since lavender has a calming scent and is a nervine, it can reduce stress and anxiety. Whether using dry herbs or oils, using aromatherapy with lavender can be so very helpful in treating migraines, headaches, nervous tensions, emotional stress, and even depression. Although lavender calms the nervous exhaustion and restlessness associated with anxiety and stress, it also increases mental activity and overall cognitive function when inhaled (this also occurs with Rosemary), so it could also help with brain fog, mental fatigue, mental clarity, and memory.

Induces Sleep

For ages lavender has been uses on bed linen. Initially it was used to make bed linens smells nice, but now it’s used to also induce sleep. Many studies have shown increased sleep regularity when normal sleep medications are replaced with drops of lavender essential oils being placed on pillows. Lavender has a relaxing impact on people, and so it is often used as a sleep agent for individuals with insomnia.

Relieves Aches and Pains

If you didn’t know it yet, you have heard it now! Lavender has incredible pain relief benefits. When it comes to aromatherapy, one study has shown that postoperative pain was significantly decreased when lavender essential oil vapor was added to oxygen, versus patients who only revived from operations with oxygen alone. Topically, having your masseuse add a little lavender oil to massage oil can provide incredible relief from pain in the joints. For at home use, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to lotion or carrier oil and massage into sore and tense muscles and joints to help with muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache, and lumbago. Feel free to add a couple drops to your humidifier or diffuser, as well!

Helps Treat Acne

There’s tons of books by dermatologists and aromatherapists that both agree that lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial treatments of acne. Acne is typically seen affecting young people as they progress through puberty, but it can often affect adults as well. Acne is characterized by red, raised sores on the face and body that develop due to bacteria, infection near the sebum gland. When the sebum gland cannot properly secret sebum from the gland, it begins to build up, inflame, and causes the perfect environment for bacterial growth. Bacteria loves feed off sebum, that’s why acne is so common, and especially in young people, who experience a vicious cycle of irritation, infection, and visible sores that can lead to permanent scarring.  When young people are going through puberty, sebum glands are stimulated at an increased rate from other individuals.

Lavender inhibits bacteria that causes initial infection with acne, it helps to regulate some of the over-excretion of sebum by hormonal influence, and can reduce the signs of scarring after acne has begun to heal. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to lotions, skin creams, or ointments and apply gently to affected areas. Adding lavender to your daily routine will greatly increase the potential relief and healing against acne!

Treats Respiratory Illnesses

Lavender oil is extremely common in the world of respiratory issues as a more natural remedy. It can be used for problems including throat infection, flu, cough, cold, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, tonsillitis, and asthma. Apply a few drops of lavender essential oil to carrier oil and apply directly to neck, chest, and back, or add a few drops to vapor/diffuser. Lavender essential oil applied in this way can loosen up phlegm and provide some relief to congestion; this will speed up recovery times from illnesses and help the body naturally heal. What’s wonderful about lavender is that it can do much of what Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Rosemary can do in providing relief, but it’s safe enough for children. Since lavender is antibacterial and antiviral, you can’t go wrong when adding to a vapor while battling illnesses such as respiratory tract infections!

Hair Care

Did you know that Lavender essential oil is so adaptable it can even help with hair loss?! A Scottish study was conducted back in 1996 on patients with alopecia, an autoimmune disease where the body rejects its own hair follicles. In this study, more than 40% of alopecia patients had an increase in hair growth when they regularly rubbed lavender essential oil into their scalp. As mentioned before, lavender is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, so lavender can really help with other hair loss issues resulting from severe psoriasis. Lavender is also moisturizing, naturally, and can help grow hair shiny and strong since it keeps away the bacteria and fungi from the scalp that typically can cause unhealthy hair growth.

Aids in Digestion

Lavender oil and lavender tea can aid in digestion because it increased the movement of food in the intestine. Lavender essential oil can also stimulate production of bile and gastric juices, which in-turn aids in the treatment of indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting. Add a few drops to certain meals while cooking, or add to tea. If you know an herbalist, or have a local herbal shop, look into getting a tincture made up for you; squirt a couple drops, a couple times a day, under your tongue to help increase appetite and healthy digestion.

Improves Blood Circulation

Research suggests aromatherapy with lavender essential oil can have beneficial effects on coronary circulation, which is circulation in the blood vessels of the heart muscle. lavender can lower blood pressure and hypertension, which in-turn increases the levels of oxygenation. This promotes muscle strength and health, a boost in brain activity, skin remains bright and flushed with blood and oxygen, and the risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis (often associated with poor blood circulation) is drastically limited.

Helps Treat Eczema

We already touched base on the benefits of lavender with skin, including Eczema, acne and Psoriasis, but it helps with so much more! Lavender essential oil can help with wrinkles and inflammatory conditions. It’s commonly used to speed up the healing process on cuts, burns, and sunburns. Lavender can limit the inflammation so often associated with eczema; add to carrier oils or lotions and apply directly to skin (add chamomile, too, for soothing!).

May Help Prevent Cancer

This herb and it’s essential oil has had so very much research conducted on it, and some of it has proven to be pleasantly surprising! Especially when it comes to cancer research. The research conducted suggests that lavender, in combination with other essential oils, can play a role in preventing breast cancer. But, remember, this can simply be an indication of a increased chance in lavender battling other carcinogenic effects and the presence of cancer, so it’s not necessarily any means of cure.

Warnings:

Warnings Associated with lavender: Breastfeeding, diabetes, allergic reactions, some people experience vomiting, nausea, headaches with excessive use.

References/Further Reading:

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/lavender/ataglance.htm

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender

http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2120003

http://www.yalescientific.org/2011/11/aromatherapy-exploring-olfaction/

http://info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1533-2500.2006.00095.x/abstract

https://www.google.com/patents/US20090186095?dq=%22lavender+essential+oil%22+hair+growth+alopecia+scotland#v=onepage&q=%22lavender%20essential%20oil%22%20hair%20growth%20alopecia%20scotland&f=false

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17689755

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.2072/abstract

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