I just recently returned from a magical 4-day training and retreat on essential oils. I witnessed first-hand the seed-to-seal process and what it takes to make quality, therapeutic oils. You can read more about that here.
Essential oils are often misunderstood and I recently blogged to my essential oil subscribers some of the major myths circulating the web regarding essential oils. Below is the full E-blast for your reading pleasure and some additional bonus updates on lavender.
Fact or Fiction?
We live in a time where it’s especially hard to shift through and determine facts from myths. This is due to the explosion of websites and the ease of anyone now being able to set up a professional looking blog. However, “a blog does not an expert make.”
It’s important to look for references and use your own experience before taking someone else’s opinion to be fact, especially if their points are highlighted with tempting tech glitzes. Unfortunately, some “experts” may really have nothing more than their opinion and sales pitches to support their own bottom line. Many do not have the education and expertise needed for truly helping or educating someone. In fact, even with research studies, statistics and headlines can be manipulated or misinterpreted to favor a writer’s opinion, such as on the topic of supplements.
With essential oils, it’s an absolute jungle out there!! Have you noticed?
Well, here’s some good news for you today…
Take 20 minutes when you can and listen to (the very energetic and peppy) Lindsey Elmore, a pharmacist and expert in essential oils. You’ll be glad you did, because you’ll get a summary of some of the most controversial issues in regards to using our favorite secondary metabolites.
She reviews the following myths and facts and I have provided you the references in my previous blogs:
- The grapefruit oil controversy (I wrote about that here.)
- The (un)link to lavender and breast swelling in boys (Again, here’s
- The cautions with wintergreen (She and I are on the same page.)
You can also check out my database for a whole series of articles on essential oils and safe use.
More Reasons to Love on Lavender
Now that you are confident that pure lavender essential oil will not make your son’s breasts grow, I have even more reasons to love on this beautiful oil.
Recently, I was reading a blog on “7 Healing Uses for Lavender Essential Oil” on Green Med info. As I was cross-referencing some of the studies, a few “newbies to me” caught my attention. I thought I had a complete geek-out from my previous blog here, but the wonders of lavender can never be fully explored in a lifetime. Here’s what I learned…
Lavender and Calming- More Than One Explanation
If you read my blog on lavender, you probably vaguely remember how I explained that lavender has a relaxing effect on the brain. This makes it optimal for calming and decreasing stress. In a recent study, researchers determined that they didn’t find specific cortisol (a hormone involved in the stress response) modulating effects with lavender. Rather, they felt that expectancy and pleasurable experience with the scent interacted with its pharmacologic properties to produce its relaxing properties. The researchers also concluded that although lavender may not be best for use with initial recall taks, it could help with post-stress performance of a memory task. Here is the abstract of the methods and conclusions:
Objective: Aromas may improve physiologic and cognitive function after stress, but associated mechanisms remain unknown. This study evaluated the effects of lavender aroma, which is commonly used for stress reduction, on physiologic and cognitive functions. The contribution of pharmacologic, hedonic, and expectancy-related mechanisms of the aromatherapy effects was evaluated.
Methods: Ninety-two healthy adults (mean age, 58.0 years; 79.3% women) were randomly assigned to three aroma groups (lavender, perceptible placebo [coconut], and nonperceptible placebo [water] and to two prime subgroups (primed, with a suggestion of inhaling a powerful stress-reducing aroma, or no prime). Participants’ performance on a battery of cognitive tests, physiologic responses, and subjective stress were evaluated at baseline and after exposure to a stress battery during which aromatherapy was present. Participants also rated the intensity and pleasantness of their assigned aroma.
Results: Pharmacologic effects of lavender but not placebo aromas significantly benefited post-stress performance on the working memory task (F(2, 86) = 5.41; p = 0.006). Increased expectancy due to positive prime, regardless of aroma type, facilitated post-stress performance on the processing speed task (F(1, 87) = 8.31; p = 0.005). Aroma hedonics (pleasantness and intensity) played a role in the beneficial lavender effect on working memory and physiologic function.
Conclusions: The observable aroma effects were produced by a combination of mechanisms involving aroma-specific pharmacologic properties, aroma hedonic properties, and participant expectations. In the future, each of these mechanisms could be manipulated to produce optimal functioning. (Chamine Irina and Oken Barry S. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. September 2016, 22(9): 713-721. doi:10.1089/acm.2015.0349.)
Interestingly, in another recent study, which was single-blinded, an effect of lavender essence on modulation of cortisol and stressful feelings in candidates for open-heart surgery was shown. I did mention in my geek-out blog a combination of lavender and rosemary did as well.
So, what’s the verdict?
It appears that all of these studies have some confounding biases and limitations; however, one thing IS clear. Regardless of how it does it, lavender tends to be relaxing for most people, which is probably why it has a reputation for its soothing action. Furthermore, the quality of the essential oil and the constituents present would affect the results obtained from sniffing a bottle of lavender oil, and not all oils are the same. Therefore, it’s important to not only choose your right oil for you, but to choose the right company for quality.
Happy and safe oiling to you all! Let’s all continue to share our true experiences with the oils and the research and facts and mitigate those scary myths!