Lavender: Understanding the health benefits

Herbalists use lavender to treat a variety of ailments. It is native to northern Africa and mountainous regions of the Mediterranean.

Aside from cosmetic purposes, lavender is produced for the production of essential oil, which is extracted from the flower spikes of specific lavender species after they have been steam distilled.

The oil has aesthetic use, and it is suspected to have some therapeutic properties as well.

When consumed, lavender essential oil is harmful, in contrast to the plant form.

Important information to know about lavender

  • Lavender is cultivated throughout northern Africa and the mountains of the Mediterranean, where it is frequently used for the extraction of its essential oils.
  • It has been established that the use of lavender can be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety, fungal infections, hair loss, and wounds among other things.
  • There is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of lavender to treat depression, high blood pressure, nausea, menstrual discomfort, or dermatitis, among other disorders, according to the American Psychological Association.
  • There is no FDA approval for lavender, thus it should not be used as a substitute for FDA-approved or prescribed medications.

Uses of lavender

Essential oil
Lavender can be distilled into an essential oil, which can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes.

Known for its health and aesthetic benefits, the plant is typically found in perfumes and shampoos, where it aids in the purification of the skin’s surface. It can be acquired over-the-counter (OTC) from drugstores, and some varieties are used to flavour baked products and other meals, while others are used to flavour beverages.

Aside from its aromatic qualities, lavender is also known for its therapeutic capabilities.

Health benefits of lavender

As an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, lavender oil is believed to be effective in the treatment of burns and bug bites, among other things.

According to the research, it may be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia , depression, and restlessness, among other things.

The use of lavender tea may be beneficial for digestive difficulties such as vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas, upset stomach, and abdominal swelling, according to certain research findings.

Apart from aiding in the relief of digestive disorders, lavender is also used to ease the pain associated with headaches, sprains, toothaches, and ulcers. It can also be used to keep hair from falling out.

Infections caused by fungi

According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, lavender oil has the potential to be useful in the treatment of antifungal-resistant infections.

Using a variety of kinds of bacteria that can cause skin disease, the researchers discovered that the oil was fatal to them all.

It appeared that the essential oils produced from the Lavandula genus of the lavender plant functioned by damaging the membranes of fungal cells in the study’s participants.

The findings of the study revealed that Lavandula oil is highly effective and has antifungal action across a broad spectrum.

Healing of wounds

When it comes to wound healing, a study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the impact of various treatments.

A comparison was made between the effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), saline solution, povidone-iodine, and lavender oil by the researchers. These were given to laboratory rats as a test.

It was found by the study’s authors that wounds healed more quickly in the TENS and lavender oil groups than in the control groups. It appears that lavender has an acceleratory effect on wound healing, based on these data.

Hair loss

Alopecia areata is a kind of hair loss that can be treated using lavender oil. This is a condition in which hair is lost from various parts of the body, including the head.

According to a study conducted in 1998, lavender can increase hair growth by up to 44 percent after seven months of use.

In a more recent study, researchers discovered that applying lavender oil to the backs of mice over the period of four weeks helped to encourage hair growth.

Anxiety disease and its associated disorders

Dental surgery
It has been proven that the aroma of lavender can help to alleviate anxiety before a dental appointment.

A review paper published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice examines the efficacy of Silexan in the treatment of patients suffering from a variety of anxiety disorders. Silexan is a lavender-oil formulation that is available in gelatine capsules containing 80 milligrammes (mg).

Within two weeks, the researchers discovered that Silexan had an anxiolytic, or anxiety-reducing, effect on patients suffering from generalised or subsyndromal anxiety.

Researchers have also discovered that the aroma of lavender may be beneficial to worried dental patients, according to Trusted Source.

Dental anxiety levels were measured in 340 adult patients while they waited for their appointments in the dentist’s waiting room, according to the findings of the study.

Half of the patients were exposed to the aroma of lavender, while the other half were not exposed to it.

When compared to the other patients, individuals who were exposed to the lavender aroma reported lower levels of anxiety, according to the research team. The relaxing impact of lavender was observed regardless of the sort of dental appointment that had been arranged.

The study’s author, Kritsidima, came at the following conclusion:

“Our findings suggest that lavender could certainly be used as an effective ‘on-the-spot’ anxiety reduction in dentists’ waiting rooms.”

Dr. M. Kritsidima, study author

The use of lavender did not appear to have any effect on anxiety associated with future dental appointments. It has, on the other hand, been demonstrated to provide a sense of calm while undergoing therapy.

Pain following a tonsillectomy in children

It has been demonstrated that using lavender oil following a tonsillectomy can lessen the quantity of painkilling medication necessary.

In a study conducted at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, researchers looked into whether aromatherapy with Lavandula angustifolia essential oil may help alleviate the symptoms of discomfort in children who had their tonsils removed.

The participants in the study ranged in age from 6 to 12 years. They were divided into two groups of 24 people each, using a random number generator. One group received painkillers in addition to lavender, whereas the other received only painkillers.

The frequency with which each child used acetaminophen and woke up in the middle of the night due to discomfort was tracked for three days following surgery. In addition, the degree of the pain was measured. Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol or paracetamol, was found to be less frequently used in the group that used lavender oil. Acetaminophen was found to be less frequently used in the group that used lavender oil.

But there was no statistically significant difference in how often they woke up at night or their assessments of the intensity of the discomfort they were experiencing.

As a result of the small sample size, additional research is needed to completely prove lavender oil’s effectiveness as a pain reliever.

Premenstrual emotional symptoms

Researchers have also looked at whether lavender can assist to relieve the emotional problems associated with premenstrual syndrome.

Premenstrual syndrome is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms experienced by many women of reproductive age during the premenstrual phase (PMS).

Despite the fact that PMS is common, no single treatment has been proven to be effective across the board. As a result, many women turn to complementary and alternative therapies such as aromatherapy to relieve their symptoms.

The participants in this crossover trial were 17 women with mild-to-moderate premenstrual symptoms, with an average age of 20.6 years. The subjects went through one menstrual cycle without receiving any lavender aromatherapy treatment and another cycle in which they received lavender aromatherapy treatment.

According to the findings of the study, lavender aromatherapy can help to decrease premenstrual emotional problems.

What is it that lavender does not remedy or relieve?

There is inadequate evidence to estimate the effectiveness of lavender in the following conditions:

  • depression
  • colic in infants
  • constipation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • migraines
  • otitis, or ear infection
  • high blood pressure
  • menstrual pain
  • eczema
  • cancer-related pain
  • dementia
  • lice

Among female college students, one study discovered that the scent of lavender could have a favourable effect on their sleep patterns and levels of depression. However, the authors stated that “further research is needed to establish effective proportions of lavender oil and carrier oil for insomnia and depression.” They also stated that “further research is needed to confirm effective proportions of lavender oil and carrier oil for sleeplessness and depression.”

Lavender has not been approved for medicinal use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States. It is only available as a dietary supplement and should not be used in place of any prescribed course of treatment.

If you decide to use this essential oil, keep in mind that the FDA does not regulate these goods. There may be worries about the purity, safety, or quality of the product. Only essential oils from recognised vendors should be purchased.

Interactions

In accordance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), users should exercise caution when combining lavender with the following foods and beverages:

  • drugs that induce sleepiness, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and Ambien
  • drugs to reduce blood pressure, such as captopril, enalapril, and losartan

If you are already using any of the medications listed above, you should consult your doctor before adding lavender to your medication regimen.

Risks

According to a research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), repeated application of lavender oil to the skin may produce prepubertal gynecomastia, a disorder that develops increased breast tissue in males before the onset of puberty, in some individuals.

In addition, there has been no research into the safety of taking lavender during pregnancy or while breast-feeding.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should see your doctor before using any essential oils, herbs, or nutritional supplements.

Because lavender is believed to have a sedative effect on the central nervous system, doctors recommend that patients discontinue use of the herb at least 2 weeks before surgery.

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