I just released an article on the many benefits of lavender essential oil. This was a direct result of the horror I had after peering through my new essential oils database only to discover that this popular oil needed some more “geek-out lovin.”
Here I go into more uses for lavender, starting with a preview on lavender from my new book, about to be released in a few weeks (click here to learn more).
Known as the “universal oil,” lavender is probably the most well-known essential oil in modern times. Many people are familiar with its calming and relaxing fragrance. With its wide array of constituents, this gentle oil is safe for everyone and is known to balance the body and work wherever in the body there is need. There is a famous catch phrase in aromatherapy: “When in doubt, use lavender!”
However, few people in the United States are aware that lavender is a powerful therapeutic oil that contains over 300 medicinal constituents when properly distilled.
In 1910, Dr. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist, discovered lavender’s skin-regenerating properties during World War I.46 When his severely-burned arm healed without a scar, Dr. Gattefosse began studying the constituents of essentials oils and instigated the re-dissemination of modern-day medical aromatherapy knowledge.47 As a result of his lab discovery, lavender is still listed in the British Pharmacopoeia for its healing properties in the skin.
I have also had great success in my practice using lavender for hormonal issues, skin problems, sleep disturbances, “nervous stomach,” mood support, and restlessness.21-23, 25, 48-49
In my blog, I discuss more about the scientific evidence for the use of lavender for mood, relaxation, brain health, and immune support. There are two other uses for lavender I found interesting and thought deserved attention. They are highlighted below.
Lavender and mouth ulcers
One study sought to determine the laboratory and clinical efficacy of lavender oil in the treatment of recurrent aphthous ulceration (RAU). In this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study, the researchers evaluated several different aspects beyond the effect of lavender on the healing of an induced ulcer. They also did an evaluation of safety and analyzed the antibacterial effect from swab specimen of humans. Finally, 115 subjects participated in a clinical efficacy study to determine the effect on inflammation, level, erythema, edema, ulcer duration, ulcer size, mean area under the curve of ulcer area, healing time, and associated pain intensity and reduction.
RESULTS: Animals treated with lavender oil showed a significant ulcer size reduction, increased rate of mucosal repair, and healing within 3 days of treatment compared to baseline and placebo groups [2-3 days (90%), 4 days (10%)] (P=0.001). The intraperitoneal LD50 value in mice was 6.5 gm/kg; clinical dermal irritation test showed no sign of irritation in the tested products. Lavender oil showed a broad antibacterial activity against all tested strains; it exhibited significant inhibition on tested bacteria where the value of zone of inhibition ranged from 14.5-24 mm vs Streptomycin (25 microg/disc) 12-22 +/- 0.5 mm; MIC was > 6.4-36 mg/ml. RAU patients treated with lavender oil showed a significant reduction in inflammation level, ulcer size, healing time, from 2-4 days [2 days (40%), 3 days (50%), 4 days (10%)], and pain relief mostly from the first dose, compared to baseline and placebo. No side effects were reported.
This is encouraging, and though, more studies are needed in this area, I’ve had case reports that using therapeutic lavender for mouth ulcers can be helpful.
Lavender and Allergies in Mice
I have seen how lavender has modulated allergic responses in some of my clients. I wanted to dig deeper to find out why. One study demonstrated that lavender inhibited induced anaphylaxis IgE allergic response in rats through both topical and intradermal application. Lavender also inhibited inflammatory mediators from mast cells. The researchers concluded:
These results indicate that lavender oil inhibits immediate-type allergic reactions by inhibition of mast cell degranulation in-vivo and in-vitro.
Furthermore, in a more recent rodent study, lavender was once again shown to be helpful in allergic responses. Specifically, it was shown to suppress allergic airway inflammation and mucous cell hyperplasia. The lavender oil seemed to achieve this response by lowering inflammatory mediators in the treated four legged critters.
As far as allergic responses to lavender, they can happen. However, if it is not a true allergy, these responses are most likely a result of sub-quality essential oils, tainted oils, or improper use. I discussed some of these implications here and in the discussion of why pure lavender will NOT cause breast growth in your boys .
Altaei DT. Topical lavender oil for the treatment of recurrent aphthous ulceration. Am J Dent. 2012 Feb;25(1):39-43.
Kim HM, Cho SH. Lavender oil inhibits immediate-type allergic reaction in mice and rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1999 Feb;51(2):221-6.
Ueno-Iio T, Shibakura M2, Yokota K1, Aoe M1, Hyoda T,Shinohata R1, Kanehiro A, Tanimoto M, Kataoka M. Lavender essential oil inhalation suppresses allergic airway inflammation and mucous cell hyperplasia in a murine model of asthma. Life Sci. 2014 Jul 17;108(2):109-15. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2014.05.018. Epub 2014 Jun 5.
Kim S, Kim H-J, Yeo J-S, et al. The effect of lavender oil on stress, bispectral index values, and needle insertion pain in volunteers. J Altern Complement Med. 2011;17(9):823-826.
Oliff H. Lavender oil inhalation prior to surgery-like setting reduces perceptions of stress and pain. American Botanical Council. HerbalGram. 2011; 92(39).
Oliff HLavender-scented bath oil promotes sleep and reduces stress in infants. American Botanical Council. HerbalGram. July 8, 2008; Herbal Clip Online:# 020685-356.
Oliff H. Review of studies assessing the effect of lavender on anxiety. American Botanical Council. HerbalGram. August 8 2012; Herbal Clip Online:# 051254-454.
Matsumoto T, Asakura H, Hayashi T. Does lavender aromatherapy alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms?: a randomized crossover trial. Biopsychosocial Medicine. 2013;7:12.
Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2013;2013:681304.
Ali B, Al-Wabel NA, Shams S, et al. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: a systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. August 2015; 5(8): 601-611.
Zabirunnisa M, Gadagi JS, Gadde P, et al. Dental patient anxiety: possible deal with Lavender fragrance. Journal of Research in Pharmacy Practice. 2014;3(3):100-103.