The Many Uses of Lavender
The herb Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula officianalis), which is native to the Mediterranean, is known for the soothing effects of its scent. But essential oils are also extracted from the blue violet flowers of the plant to treat a variety of conditions, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Although lavender is currently used to supplement forms of healing such as acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation, researchers are also studying lavender to determine its potential antiviral effects. It is also thought to stimulate circulation and relieve muscle cramping.
Some studies have yielded evidence that aromatherapy with lavender might calm the nervous system, enhance sleep and improve people’s moods. This could help people with sleep disorders and calm agitation. Not only did lavender aromatherapy appear to reduce anxiety when used in conjunction with massage, comparing favorably against massage alone, but it helped reduce agitation in dementia sufferers. These potential effects may explain why it is also regarded as effective by many online sources in treating headaches.
According to a 2009 study, however, it appeared more effective in treating people under low-anxiety conditions. In a 2005 study related to insomnia, it was more effective in treating women and younger subjects for insomnia. Lavender aromatherapy has also been used to treat headaches, nervousness and exhaustion. It may have soothing effects when sprayed on pillows or bed sheets.
In oil form it is used for skin conditions such as such as fungal infections, wounds (although sources warn not to use it on an open wound), eczema and acne. It is also used as a bath oil to treat joint and muscle pain. There are also studies suggesting that the oil used externally may help treat alopecia areata, which causes hair loss, and hirsuitism, which causes excessive hair growth in women.
During one test, 86 people suffering from alopecia areata used the lavender oil to massage their scalps along with oils extracted from thyme, rosemary and other herbs. Researchers reported improvement in about 44 percent of the subjects after seven months. One study suggested it may help postoperative patients control their pain more effectively. However, it should not be taken orally in oil form. Anyone using it should consult with their doctor before they or anyone in their family uses it due to potential problems such as allergic reactions or negative interactions with central nervous depressants – it is particularly recommended that children or pregnant women consult with a doctor first.