Many varieties of the lavender family are used as ornamental plants or culinary herbs, but it’s its essential oil that gives this plant its healing power.
Lavender essential oils are known to reduce infection, soothe bug bites and ease muscle spasms. Balms, salves, perfumes and topical applications containing these oils also have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. But it just might be lavender’s effect on stress, sleep and pain that keeps its fans coming back for more.
The Health Benefits of Lavender
1. Lavender oil helps reduce stress.
In three different clinical trials, lavender oil was administered once a day to patients suffering from an anxiety disorder, as well as restlessness and agitation. Not only did the lavender improve symptoms such as restlessness and disturbed sleep, it also had a beneficial influence on participants’ general well-being and quality of life. (No wonder the bubble bath aisle is loaded with it.) A low-risk, cost-effective way to manage and reduce stress, lavender oil also has the potential to help with anxiety and depressive symptoms.
2. Lavender improves sleep quality.
Studies show that lavender significantly improves the quality and duration of sleep, and improves general mental and physical health without causing unwanted sedative or other drug-specific effects (we’re looking at you, Imovane). A cocktail of essential oils, including lavender, basil, juniper and sweet marjoram, has also been shown to reduce sleep disturbance and improve overall well-being in older patients.
3. Lavender helps reduce acute and chronic pain.
In a recent study, a simple foot massage using lavender essential oil was proven effective in lowering blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and pain. In a similar study, the bispectral index (a parameter for monitoring sedation) and pain intensity were significantly reduced after participants received oxygen via a face mask coated with lavender oil. And a course of manual acupressure with lavender oil significantly alleviated neck and back pain, and improved movements of the cervical and lumbar spine.
4. Lavender helps with migraine headaches.
Breathing in lavender essential oil is thought to be an effective and safe treatment option for migraine headaches. In one study, patients suffering from migraine attacks reported a significant improvements after 2-3 drops of lavender oil were rubbed onto to their upper lip in the early stages of an attack.
Bottom line: this miracle plant is a go-getter when it comes to soothing what ails you.