Today, lavender is the most used essential oil in the world. Ancient texts tell us that lavender essential oil has been used for medicinal and religious purposes for over 2,500 years.
The Romans used it for bathing, cooking and for scenting the air.And, quite possibly the most famous usage of all, Mary used it to anoint Jesus with her hair and some believe spikenard was made from lavender essential oil.“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” ~ John 12:3
Many researchers claim that 2,000 years ago, lavender was referred to as spikenard or simply nard from the Greek name for lavender, naardus, after the Syrian city Naarda. This really puts the power of lavender into perspective, doesn’t it?
Today, lavender oil benefits your body in the following ways:
• Reduces anxiety and emotional stress
• Heals burns and wounds
• Improves sleep
• Restores skin complexion and reduces acne
• Slows aging with powerful antioxidants
• Improves eczema and psoriasis
• Alleviates headaches
7 Lavender Oil Benefits and Studies
1. Antioxidant Protection
Arguably the most dangerous and most common risk factor for every disease that affects Americans, free radicals (toxins, chemicals, pollutants, etc.) are responsible for shutting down your immune system and can cause unbelievable damage to your body.
So, what’s the solution?
The body’s natural response is to create antioxidant enzymes – especially glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) – which prevent these free radicals from doing their damage.
Unfortunately, your body can actually become deficient in antioxidants if the free radical burden is great enough. Sadly, this has become relatively common in the U.S. because of poor diet and high exposure to toxins.
Thankfully, natural options abound, such as lavender essential oil, which has been proven to be nature’s antioxidant super hero.
For instance, researchers from China have recently discovered that lavender essential oil helps your body produce three of your bodies most powerful antioxidants, glutathione, catalase, and SOD within 22 hours of using lavender essential oil!
Also, Romanian scientists have seen similar results after just seven days of inhaling lavender essential oil vapor for 60 minutes a day. They found that diffusing lavender oil protected cells from damage that can lead to cancer.
*I have many of my patients use a diffuser with their essential oils for health benefits. I personally have one going on the desk of my office and then we have the diffuser going in the living room during the day.
2. Diabetes Treatment
Possibly the most exciting of all research concerning lavender came out in 2014. Scientists from Tunisia set out to complete a fascinating task: to test the effects of lavender essential oil on blood sugar to see if it can help diabetes.
During the 15-day study, the results observed by researchers were absolutely amazing. In a nutshell, lavender essential oil treatment protected the body from the following symptoms of diabetes:
• Increase in blood glucose (the hallmark of diabetes)
• Metabolic disorders (especially fat metabolism)
• Weight gain (ever wonder why as diabetes continues to rise, so do our waistbands!)
• Liver and kidney antioxidant depletion (one of the reasons diabetes is lethal)
• Liver and kidney dysfunction (ditto)
• Liver and kidney lipoperoxidation (when free radicals “steal” necessary fat molecules from cell membranes)
Surprisingly, the radical-scavenging antioxidant activity of lavender was actually more robust than ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)!
Does this tell us that lavender essential oil should be used as a treatment option for diabetics? Maybe.
It’s just one study, but a powerful study nonetheless! We look forward to more research on this topic as natural approaches to diabetics continue to fill the scientific literature.
*You can apply lavender essential oil topically on your neck and chest, diffuse it in the air, or supplement with it for the health benefits.
3. Improves Mood and Supports Brain
In addition to the groundbreaking diabetes research we just saw, 2013 was the year lavender was put on the pedestal for its unique ability to protect against neurological damage.
Traditionally, lavender has been used to treat neurological issues like migraines, stress, anxiety, and depression so it’s exciting to see that the research is finally catching up to history.
Just last November, for instance, an evidence-based study was published by the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice.
The study found that supplementing with 80 mg capsules of lavender essential oil alleviates anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression.
Additionally, in the study there were no adverse side effects from using lavender oil to treat anxiety, insomnia and depression. Whereas we know pharmaceutical drugs like prozac have dangerous side effects.
And according to research, lavender essential oil benefits don’t stop there, it has also been shown to reduce symptoms and development of Alzheimer’s disease!
Last year, the journal Phytomedicine published a study which highlighted that inhaling lavender essential oil vapor for 60 minutes a day was shown to prevent brain oxidative stress in rats with dementia.
Another study published in 2012 took 28 high-risk postpartum women and found that by diffusing lavender in their home they had a significant reduction of postnatal depression and reduced anxiety disorder after a four-week treatment plan of lavender aromatherapy.
Also in 2012, the Swiss journal Molecules printed the results of a study that shockingly proved that lavender is a viable treatment option for stroke. Yes stroke!
Another study proving that lavender aromatherapy improves mood was done on people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The results revealed that just 80 mg of lavender oil per day helped decreased depression by 32.7% and dramatically decreased sleep disturbances, moodiness, and overall health status in 47 people suffering from PTSD.
*To relieve stress and improve sleep, put a diffuser by your bed and diffuse oils while you sleep at night or in the family room while you’re reading or winding down in the evening. Also, can be rubbed topically behind your ears for the same benefits.
4. Lavender Heals Burns and Cuts
Widely known for its antimicrobial properties, lavender has a rich history of being used to prevent various infections and combat bacterial/fungal disorders. In fact, almost 100 studies have been conducted establishing this truth over and over again.
Also, we have found that lavender oil speeds the healing of burns, cuts, scrapes and wounds and a big part of this is because of it’s anti-microbial properties.
For example, in a study evaluating how lavender’s antimicrobial ability is enhanced when blended with other essential oils like clove, cinnamon and tea tree oil. Specifically, a 1:1 ratio of these oils was found to be the most effective in fighting against Candida albicans and Staph aureus, which are both common causes for many fungal and bacterial infections that lead to respiratory pneumonia and skin funguses.
*For burns or eczema, mix lavender oil with coconut oil in 1:5 ratio for rapid healing.
5. Lavender Oil Benefits Skin
Most likely due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics, lavender essential mixed with aloe or coconut oil has profound benefits on your skin.
Just 10 drops per 1 ounce of aloe vera or oil will sooth the worst sunburn and bring rapid healing to dry skin, minor cuts and scraps.
Research has even proven its ability to speed recovery from canker sores and can prevent allergic reactions!
Want to reduce age spots? Try mixing lavender oil with frankincense essential oil and put it on your skin first thing in the morning, right after you shower and right before bed. Success stories of these two oils improving age and sunspots are numerous.
6. Lavender Oil for Headaches
There are millions of people around the world who struggle with both tension headaches and migraine heartaches who are searching for a natural alternative to drugs. According to new medical research, lavender oil may just be that natural cure they are looking for.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Neurology people struggling with migraine headaches saw a significant reduction in pain when they inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes.
Probably the most effective natural treatment for headaches is combing lavender oil with peppermint oil and rubbing these oils on the back of the neck, the temples on the lateral side of the forehead along with inhaling it. Typically 2 drops of each oil in the palm of your hand then rubbed into the areas works perfectly.
7. Lavender for Sleep and Insomnia
A study on college students found that using lavender oil improved the overall quality of sleep by 60%. This included length of sleep, time it took to fall asleep, restfulness and reduced symptoms of insomnia.
Another study published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine found that lavender oil showed immediate improvements on 5 men and 5 women who struggled with insomnia.
If you are trying to improve your quality of sleep diffusing lavender before or during sleep can help. Also, you can rub it directly on your neck, chest and temples which is also effective.
If you do struggle with sleep I have found that making a mixture of lavender oil, roman chamomile oil and magnesium oil is the best overall combination in improving sleep.
And finally, taking a healing bath by adding 15 drops of lavender oil and 1 cup of epsom salts to the bathtub is another effective way to use lavender oil to improve sleep and relax the body.