The Lavenders Lavandula are a genus of about 25-30 species of flowering plants in the mint family. Lavender's name is derived from the Latin word lavarre, which means to wash. In ancient Arab medicine, lavender was widely used as an expectorant.
Lavenders are quite often grown in home gardens and the flowers make great dried flower arrangements. Lavender is also used in home made and commercial potpourris.
In the folk medicine of Europe, lavender has held a reputation as a useful wound herb. The most common types of lavenders to be used as a herbal remedy are L. angustifolia and L. spica. French lavender, L. stoechas, is perhaps one of the most commonly used varieties of lavender.
Since ancient times, and it has been used traditionally to treat many disorders, including:
Insomnia, skin complaints, such as dermatitis, acne, allergies, insect bites, mild burns, athlete's foot and general wounds. Gastrointestinal disorders, such as flatulence. Pain, such as headaches, rheumatism, muscular aches, labour pains and period pains.
Lavender was used extensively during World War I whenever medical supplies became scarce, to both prevent infection and relieve pain.
The aroma of lavender has been reported to be calming, and is thought to be particularly useful in stressful situations.
The flowers of the lavender plant are used to create an array of herbal remedies.
Herbalists describe the character of the lavender flowers, cooling and mainly dry. The flowers are known to contain tannins, volatile oils, coumarins, triterpernoids, and flavonoids.
Lavender is well regarded for its ability to promote bile flow, and it is well known as a relaxant, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant, antiseptic, a tonic for the nervous system, an analgesic, and as a carminative herbal remedy.
Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular of all aromatic essential oils.
Lavender essential oil can be used to treat a large variety of problems and ailments. Many herbalists recommend that lavender essential oil become an integral part of any household first aid kit. Lavender essential oils can be used to create a variety of herbal remedies.
The essential oil of lavender can be used to make a herbal remedy healing cream.
Simply add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a chamomile-based cream to treat skin problems such as eczema. You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil with a few drops of water to treat scalds, burns, or sunburn. Lavender essential oil can also be used to create a potent chest rub. Simply add 1 ml of oil to 5 drops of chamomile oil and rub into chest to treat bronchitis spasms or symptoms of asthma.
Lavender can also be used as a hair rinse.
Simply dilute 5-10 drops of essential lavender oil in water to treat lice problems. Lavender essential oil hair rinses can also be used on a fine comb to treat the hair for nits.
Essential oil from the lavender flower can also be used to make an effective massage oil.
Combine 1 ml of lavender essential oil into 25 ml carrier oil, and use as a massage oil. This massage oil is effective in treating painful muscles.
Herbalists also recommend rubbing this oil into the temples and the nape of the neck to treat tension headaches and migraines. You can use Lavender essential oil to help protect against insect bites and stings.
Simply smelling lavender can improve healing.
Lavender is one of the most important herbs of aromatherapy. It is highly regarded for helping to ease feelings of stress, anxiety, and it can help relieve the symptoms of insomnia
Until recently, evidence supporting the efficacy of lavender essential oil in these conditions has tended to be largely anecdotal, but medical research is now beginning to show that this oil may indeed have medicinal properties. A recent review of the biological activities of lavender essential oil concluded that there is "both scientific and clinical data that support the traditional uses of lavender".
Lavender essential oil prevents infection
Lavender essential oil has been shown to have antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal activity, and also to have efficacy in the laboratory against bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics (e.g. methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA]).
Lavender essential oil aids insomnia and quality of sleep and relieves pain
Lavender aromatherapy was found to improve sleep in older hospitalised patients, and reduced the need for night sedation. A massage with lavender essential oil improved quality of sleep in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Massaging with lavender oil reduced the perception of pain in patients with chronic rheumatoid arthritis, and also in women who had given birth, lavender baths reduced perineal pain and discomfort 3-5 days post-natally.
Lavender essential oil reduces anxiety
Lavender aromatherapy essential oil message has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety in intensive care patients, and the aroma of lavender decreased anxiety in patients undergoing haemodialysis.
Lavender essential oil controls alopecia (hair loss)
A combination of lavender, rosemary, cedarwood and thyme essential oils has been reported to improve hair growth in patients with alopecia.
Lavender essential oil aids indigestion
Lavender is currently recommended for the treatment of indigestion and nervous intestinal discomfort by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices Commission E, a committee made up of scientists, toxicologists, doctors and pharmacists formed by the German government in 1978.
These findings still require further investigation, and research into the medical properties of lavender and other essential oils continues. The use of aromatherapy can not be recommended as a substitute for medical care and, if taken for medical reasons, this should be under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist.
Nevertheless, it is slowly becoming evident that many of the traditional medicinal properties attributed to lavender could be based in scientific fact.
NOTE: There are some cautions that accompany the use of lavender. It is particularly recommended that women who are pregnant avoid high doses of lavender. High doses of lavender in any form have been shown to be a strong uterine stimulant.
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Dr Gillian Hale is the co-founder of aromatherapy-stress-relief.com a home based UK business providing hand made Aromatherapy Stress Relief Gifts. For more information regarding Lavender oil,stress at work, stress busting with essential oils.