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The Medicinal and Healing Properties of Luscious Lavender

By on August 17, 2013
Screen shot 2013 08 17 at 1.12.29 PM 300x336 - The Medicinal and Healing Properties of Luscious Lavender

         Little is more beautiful that fields of purple lavender. Lavender is one of the most beautiful herbs and one of the most beautiful and useful essential oils. It has been used since ancient times as an antiseptic. It is also antibacterial and antifungal. Though in different ways, lavender is used both as a herb and as an essential oil.
    Lavender is a great herb for mood. A herbal tea made from lavender helps if you are having trouble sleeping. Germany’s Commission E approves the internal use of lavender for restlessness, insomnia and nervous intestinal discomfort.
    Though the herbal tea is perfectly safe to drink, the essential oil should not be used internally. Used properly, though, this highly useful essential oil is a great sedative and antidepressant.
    Despite its long traditional use, lavender has not been extensively researched. That is beginning to change. Recent studies have begun to confirm the many uses of lavender.
    A recent review of the studies on lavender concluded that scenting a room with lavender essential oil can improve feelings of well being, sleep and alertness while decreasing aggression and anxiety (Psychotherapy Research, 2002)

Promotes Relaxation and Alertness
    This incredible ability of lavender to promote relaxation and alertness simultaneously has been noticed before. In a 1998 study, people given lavender had increased drowsiness, less depression and were more relaxed, but also performed math calculations quicker and more accurately (Int J Neurosci).
    A very small but promising study looked at lavender’s reputation as a sleeping herb. It found that inhaling lavender essential oil was as effective as tranquilizers in helping elderly people with insomnia sleep (Lancet 1995).
    Two more very recent studies have also provided exciting confirmation of lavender’s traditional uses. Many people with dementia manifest agitated behaviour. In this study of fifteen people with severe dementia and agitated behaviour, the common area of their long stay unit was diffused with either lavender essential oil or water on different days. With the lavender, 60% did better than they did with the placebo (International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2002).

A Promising Herb for Depression
    In the most recent study, forty-five people suffering from depression were given either sixty drops of lavender tincture and a placebo or 100mg of the antidepressant drug imipramine and a placebo or sixty drops of lavender tincture and 100mg of imipramine. After four weeks, all three groups improved significantly, confirming lavender’s power as an antidepressant. Interestingly, the group taking both imipramine and lavender experienced a significantly greater improvement than those taking either treatment alone, suggesting that people on imipramine for depression may be able to reduce their dose of the drug and therefore, its side effects, by adding lavender (Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 2003).

A Myriad of Topical Uses
    Lavender essential oil may also promote hair growth, prevent scarring and promote healing. It is great for burns and scalds. It is also a wonderful herb to use topically, as the essential oil, when trying to clear up acne, as it stops new break outs and heals old ones, while clearing up scars. It can also be used to heal the perineal after childbirth.
    In ancient times, lavender was used as a wash, helping to purify and body and spirit. In old Greece, Persia and Rome it was used to purify sick rooms and hospitals. Other ancients refer to it as a broom of the brain because it was said to sweep away impurities. It was widely used for psychiatric problems and it is still used for these purposes today.
    Dosage: When used internally, lavender can be taken as a tea or as a tincture. To make a tea, infuse one to two teaspoons. As a tincture, take up to 2ml three times a day.
     Safety: When used properly, lavender is perfectly safe. There are no known side effects, contraindications or interactions, though as just noted, it may have an enhancing effect on imipramine.
    Lavender is safe to take when pregnant or nursing, according to all the women's herbals and books on contraindications that we consulted. Brinker speculatively says that excessive internal use should be avoided during early pregnancy.
Contact Linda Woolven to make an appointment at her uptown or downtown Toronto clinic at (416) 782-8211. www.thenaturalpathnewsletter.com

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