Oooooh lavender! That wonderful smelling, beautiful flower that gives us some amazing pictures and even better scented soaps. The name "lavender" comes from the the Latin word "lavare" which means "to wash"....hmmm....no wonder why it has such a strong association with body care products.
Lavender essential oil is extracted from the lavender flower by a process called "steam distillation" which, is basically the same process one would use to distill alcohol. The flowers are steamed and the water vapor carries away the oil in the flowers. That vapor is cooled back down to liquid form and then the oils separate from the water. There you have it, lavender essential oil.
Lavender is so much more than a great scent for soaps, candles and perfume though. There are numerous health benefits to incorporating this awesome essential oil into your life. In this article, we'll cover seven of them with the hopes that you can reap some benefits from it, if you're not already.
1) Insect Repellant
Lavender essential oil is extremely potent to insects. Simply put, they do not like it. You can harness these repellent qualities in two ways: apply some diluted lavender oil to your skin prior to going outdoors or, diffuse some lavender essential oil in the area you're in, if possible. As an added benefit, if you have an insect bite, the anit-inflammatory benefits of lavender essential oil will help reduce the redness and itching.
2) Hair Care
In the above benefit, we talked about how insects hate lavender. Well, insects such as lice also hate it. Lavender essential oil can be used as a very effective treatment for lice and as a preventative measure against them.
It has also been shown that lavender essential oil may help some men reverse the effects of alopecia or, male pattern baldness. One study reported that 40% of men with alopecia that regularly rubbed lavender essential oil on their scalps experienced an increase in hair growth.
3) Promotes Sleep
Lavender essential oil has been shown to improve sleep and can be used as an alternative treatment to insomnia. Repeated studies on the elderly have shown that lavender aromatherapy has resulted in increases in sleep regularity when used to replace sleep medications. Simply apply a small amount of lavender essential oil to your pillow or diffuse some oil in your diffuser before you go to bed at night and off to dreamland you go!
4) Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Perhaps the most researched benefit of lavender essential oil has been its benefits of reducing stress and anxiety. Lavender essential oil has the ability to significantly reduce nervous energy and restlessness while increasing mental activity.
A research study examined the effects of lavender aromatherapy on 67 women in Taiwan aged 45-55 years. The volunteers showed a significant improvement in sleep quality and a persistent positive effect of heart rate variability with an increase in parasympathetic modulation. Another study showed that people taking tests showed a significant decrease in mental stress and anxiety, as well as increased cognitive function when they inhaled lavender oil and rosemary oil before taking the test.
5) Treatment of Respiratory Disorders
Lavender oil is widely used for various respiratory problems including throat infection, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. This is another one that you can simply put a few drops of lavender essential oil into your diffuser and reap the benefits! It can also be used to loosen up phlegm and help the body eliminate it as it recover from sickness.
6) Cancer Prevention
There is a significant research on the effects of lavender, in combination with other essential oils, as a way to prevent the occurrence of breast cancer in mice. This could be due to the ability of lavender to battle carcinogenic effects and the presence of cancer.