Lavender is mostly known for its captivating fragrance but the plant and its essential oil have so much more to offer. So what exactly makes it so special?
Lavender : Uses, Side Effects, Interractions and Dosage
Lavandula angustifolia, commonly known as lavender, is a perennial low shrub that grows to a height of 0,30 – 1m. There are several varieties of the genus that are distinguished by leaf shape and flower color. The plant is endemic to the Mediterranean rocky and sunny environment and it is known since ancient times for its value as a bath additive and antiseptic. In fact, the very name of the plant derives from the latin “lavare” that means to wash. Today, the essential oil of lavender has many applications and it is extracted from the fresh flowers of the plant.
- Hair Loss – The oil seems to be very effective against baldness because it improves blood circulation on the scalp. More specifically, a study of 86 participants with alopecia areata and a duration of 7 months, showed that 44% of the patients who massaged their scalp with essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood) experienced significant hair regrowth.
- Stress & Anxiety – There are studies that support that lavender can soothe the body, relief from emotional stress and improve the mood. This theory is further supported by the existence of antioxidant components in the plant.
- General Skin Care – Application of lavender appears to be helpful against acne, a very distressing condition. A possible explanation may be the antiseptic properties of the herb. It has also been used to treat eczema and psoriasis, even though there is currently not enough evidence to fully back that theory.
- Insomnia / Agitation – Recent research suggests that lavender has a positive effect on sleep problems and can help people who suffer from insomnia. It can also clear your mind and promote relaxation, thus it has a positive impact on restless people.
- Surgery – Aromatherapy with its essential oil is considered to be an effective way to manage pain in surgery recovery, such as C-section.
- Pain Relief – Studies suggest that lavender oil reduces the pain associated with colic in infants as well as the menstrual cramps. It is also used for other types of muscular pains, like backaches, lumbago and sore and tense muscles.
- Canker Sores – The oil of the plant is widely used against canker sores as an effective and safe way to treat them. This is because of its antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
- Antiseptic & Anti-inflammatory – The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ability of the plant is impressive. Lavender has antifungal and antibacterial properties and for that reason, it promotes the healing of wounds and burns. Administering ear drops that contain lavender seems to be effective against ear infections.
- Constipation – There is some evidence, suggesting that this herb can also ease stomach discomfort, improve bowel symptoms and alleviate constipation.
- Blood Circulation – There are research findings suggesting that lavender aromatherapy has beneficial effects on coronary circulation. It reduces blood pressure and protects from heart attacks and atherosclerosis that are associated with poor blood circulation.
- Headache & Migraine – A statistically significant difference has been noticed between the response to placebo and lavender, suggesting that the essential oil might be an effective and safe treatment of migraine.
- Depression – Although there is no concrete evidence, the herb seems to improve post-partum and other types of depression.
- Cancer – There are some indications that a combination of lavender oil with other essential oils might be a preventative means against breast cancer.
- Bug Repellent – Lavender is a natural bug repellant and it protects against mosquitoes, moths, and midges. It can also reduce the irritation and the pain associated with bug bites, due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Lice – A combination of lavender oil and tea tree oil is an effective way to deter lice and remove the eggs of lice, also known as “nits”.
- Respiratory disorders – The oil is also widely used for a great number or respiratory problems such as flu, cough, cold, throat infections, bronchitis, laryngitis, and tonsillitis.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Aromatic candles
It is also noteworthy that there is not enough scientific evidence to fully support the effectiveness of lavender for most medical uses and that further research is needed in order to confirm them. There are, though, numerous encouraging indications.
Lavender is regarded as likely safe for most people, however, there are certain circumstances where its usage should be avoided. Some people may develop an allergic reaction to lavender, followed by nausea, vomiting, and headache. For some people, skin application may cause irritation and with oral use an increased appetite, constipation and headache are possible.
It is also associated with gynecomastia and breast cancer in men as it seems to disrupt the hormone levels. Consequently, it is considered possibly unsafe for young boys, especially for those who have not yet gone through puberty.
There is not enough evidence considering its safety when used by pregnant and breastfeeding women so they should avoid it.
Furthermore, it is possible that the essential oil of lavender might cause photosensitivity.
In any case, a consultation should precede any kind of usage.
- CNS Depressants – Lavender can increase the effectiveness of CNS Depressants, causing sleepiness and drowsiness. Such medicines are lorazepam (Tavor, Ativan), bromazepam (Lexotanil), diazepam (Valium), phenobarbital (Donnatal), alprazolam (Xanax), mephobarbital (Mebaral) and zolpidem (Ambien).
- Narcotics – The effectiveness of narcotics like oxycodone and morphine is also affected by the use of lavender oil. Report the use of lavender to your doctor if you are planning a surgery.
- Chloral Hydrate – Choral Hydrate is a sedative and taking it along with lavender can cause lethargy.
- Herbs & Supplements – It should not be taken along with supplements and herbs that have a similar effect on the CNS, such as St.John’s wort, catnip, valerian, and yerba mansa.
- Food – No known interactions with foods.
Whether it is for internal or external use, the recommended dosage is 2-4 drops of the oil. Children should not use it orally. Whatever the case, you should speak with a specialist first before taking any action.