Herb of the Month: Lavender

Lavender is associated with purity, balance, serenity, and calm.

Herbal oil and lavender flowers on wooden background

With a history dating back more than 2,500 years, lavender’s benefits are known around the world.

Lavender is associated with purity, balance, serenity, and calm.

Science supports this. A standardized essential oil extract of Lavandula angustifolia for oral administration has been approved for use in subsyndromal anxiety. “The SLO (Standardized Lavender Oil) product exhibits many desirable properties of an anxiolytic agent, including a calming effect without sedation, as well as a lack of dependence, tolerance, or withdrawal. The favorable safety and efficacy profile of SLO makes it a reasonable alternative to consider in patients with anxiety disorders” (1).

It is common to find lavender in haircare, soap, facial scrubs, and body lotions.

Never underestimate the benefits of a massage with lavender oil added to massage oil, or using a few drops in a hot bath at the end of a stressful day. Lavender also is used in potpourri, sachets, or my favorite, diffusers for lasting fragrance. Another favorite use is to save dryer sheets after the clothes have been taken out of the dryer. I smooth them out, add 5 drops of lavender oil, and slip them in the pillowcase for a night of relaxation.

Lavender oil is widely used for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.

There are success stories of using it on wounds, sores, rashes, scalp irritation, and acne. Before using lavender oil at full strength, one should do a skin area test to check for sensitivity. Although the oil is gentle, some people can have reactions. Using a carrier oil to buffer its potency can help ensure great results.

I am not a huge proponent of using essential lavender oil by mouth, due to the potency and possible mouth irritation. That said, using the lavender plant in food or tea tends to be safer, and less irritating. Because lavender can promote calm, it may cause adverse reactions with medications, so consult a medical practitioner. It is not recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Reference

  1. National Library of Medicine. PubMed Central Essential Oil of lavender in anxiety disorders: Ready for Prime time? 2017 July Benjamin J. Malcolm PharmD MPH