By GMB doctor / health advisor Dr Sandy Krafchik.
Lavender (lavandula augustifolia) is a flowering plant belonging to the mint family and is known for its sweet floral fragrance, beauty and multiple uses. It is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean, India and the Middle East. Many ancient cultures relied on lavender for its signature scent, its pain relieving and sedative properties, for bathing and for cooking.
Lavender is best known for its ability to enhance relaxation and promote restful sleep. It is one of the safest essential oils available and is therefore a great choice to use around babies and kids. It is very effective for use in baby massage (from the age of 3 months upwards) as it is calming and enhances sleep. Always dilute the lavender with a carrier oil before applying it to the baby’s skin. A relaxing night time ritual is beneficial in preparing the body for a good night’s sleep and should be implemented a few hours before going to sleep. Avoid digital screens and caffeinated beverages before bed. Have a relaxing bath with lavender. The scent of lavender is calming and relaxing and is known as the “secret scent of sleep”. Its aroma is extremely soothing and has been proven to improve sleep quality, relax the body, and improve moods.
Applying lavender oil to the temples soothes headaches, migraines and motion sickness. In cooking it is used as a flavour booster. Add a few drops of lavender to any recipe you want to enhance. It provides a floral, slightly sweet flavour to salads, soups, meat and seafood dishes, desserts, cheeses, baked goods and confectionery. The dried flowers are usually used in the culinary arena, however the leaves may also be used.
Lavender can also be added to water or enjoyed in a tea. Lavender is too strong to be used by itself as a tea but mixed with mint leaves it makes a soothing herbal tea. Madame Flavour’s Soothing Mint Lavender Tisane tea is a wonderful organic blend of peppermint leaves, Egyptian spearmint leaves, lavender flowers, Australian peppermint gum leaf and blue cornflowers. Enjoy a cup of this tea before bed to enhance a good night’s sleep.
Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) is the most versatile of all essential oils. Most commonly known for its relaxing effects on the body, it may also be used to cleanse cuts, bruises and skin irritations. The fragrance is calming, relaxing and balancing – both physically and emotionally. Having a bottle of lavender with you equates to having your personal first aid kit, perfume and mood booster on hand.
The distinct, fresh scent of Lavender comes from the plant’s flowers, which is where the essential oil is extracted from. After extraction, Lavender essential oil is produced through the process of steam distillation. During this process steam and pressure are used to cause chemical elements to be released from the plant—separating water and the essential oil.
Wesleyan University studied the effects of lavender on men and women. A study at Wesleyan University found that inhaling the lavender scent before bed increased the percentage of Non REM (non rapid eye movement) sleep in both men and women. Our bodies require non REM sleep because that’s where we recharge, heal, and detox. It helps to maintain a strong immune system will.
A study on the effects of lavender bath oil on infants revealed that the plant can provide a more relaxing night-time routine.
During sleep most of our time is spent in stage 2 sleep, or light (REM) sleep. It’s where we dream, and where we convert short-term memories into long-term memories. It’s also where we’re most likely to be woken. Lavender is a great option for those who tend to be restless and wake up during the night.
A study from a University in Thailand on the effects of inhaling lavender oil revealed that it can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature. Lavender is not a magical cure for sleep. However, using lavender as part of a relaxing night time routine improves the quality of sleep. Inhaling lavender is one of the best ways to calm the mind. Apply the oil to the temples or wrists for instant stress relief or spray it onto your bedsheets and pillow to create your own personal oasis.
Because of its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, lavender oil can help soothe sunburns and heal dry skin, as well as minor cuts and scrapes.
According to a 2012 study published in the European Journal of Neurology, people struggling with migraine headaches experienced a significant reduction in pain when they inhaled lavender oil scents (via a diffuser) for 15 minutes.
Lavender oil can be used as an anti-dandruff cleanser. When applied to the hair and scalp, lavender oil hydrates and moisturises.
The antibacterial properties in lavender oil can be used to freshen up clothes, bed sheets, towels, and curtains. Dilute the oil with water and spray onto fabrics as required.
Lavender is often used as a natural treatment for acne. Its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties result in an improvement of acne lesions.
Research has shown that applying two drops of lavender oil to a canker sore three times daily can improve the healing process, as well as reduce swelling and pain. It can be applied directly to the sore or diluted with coconut oil.
To keep your skin’s pH balanced you can make your own skin toner by combining apple cider vinegar and lavender oil—the vinegar is alkalizing, antiseptic and antibacterial, while the lavender oil soothes and refreshes.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, lavender oil can help prevent nausea or motion sickness. Simply place a drop of lavender oil on the tip of your tongue, behind your ears, or under your belly button.
Researchers from China discovered that within 22 hours of using lavender oil (in a diffuser), it can help your body produce three important and powerful antioxidants that help protect your body against damage caused by free radicals.
It is therefore clear that we can all benefit by incorporating some lavender into our lives.
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Essential Bazaar. 2018. How to Use Lavender Essential Oil for Babies Safely – Essential Bazaar. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.essentialbazaar.com/use-lavender-essential-oil-for-babies-safely/. [Accessed 05 April 2018].