The mere sight of the resplendent purple colour of a field of lavender in full bloom, spread out like a giant carpet, is enough to set off therapeutic processes in the body. Lavendar is the name of a family perennial shrubs or herbaceous plants cultivated for their mauve or blue flowers, which produce a fragrant oil. The health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to eliminate tension, relieve pain, disinfect the scalp and skin, enhance blood circulation and treat respiratory problems.
Soothe wounds and pain
You’ve probably never heard your doctor shout, “Quick, get the lavender!” But this purple flowering plant may be a powerful healer. One small study found that lavender essential oil relieved soreness and redness for women who had episiotomies, which are vaginal cuts made by doctors in certain situations to aid the delivery of babies. Another study showed that inhaling lavender essence, in a process known as aromatherapy, eased pain from C-section childbirths. The physiological process that makes this possible is not yet clear – it is still the subject of research, to understand how the beneficial effect is achieved.
Stop hair loss
Massaging your scalp regularly with a mix of lavender oil and other herb essential oils may help slow hair loss from alopecia areata. This autoimmune disease, which can run in families, makes your body mistakenly attack your hair follicles. Research goes on to see if lavender oil might help hair grow, too. In one study, mice treated with lavender oil sprouted furrier coats.
Culinary lavender adds a clean sweetness to just about any dish. It also packs ursolic acid, a nutrient that may help fight cancer and burn more calories. Blend your own salt-free herbs de Provence seasoning with lavender, rosemary, thyme, fennel, chives, and other herbs.
Tame your tummy
Ancient Roman soldiers counted on lavender’s antibacterial powers to treat upset stomach and other illnesses. Some research suggests that the plant’s essential oil can help fight colitis, inflammation of the colon that can lead to pain and diarrhea. It may do this by helping fend off bad bacteria and protecting the infection-fighting strains. Try sprinkling dried culinary lavender on Greek yogurt.
Soak up toxins
It’s tender but tough. Lavender thrives in toxic places that would quickly kill less hardy plants. Its roots absorb heavy metals like lead and zinc and store them in their leaves. This can help clean and restore industrial sites and contaminated garden plots.
Freshen your floors
House cleaners in medieval times sprinkled floors with this aromatic herb to refresh stale or sickly air. It still works great on modern carpets to quash bad odour and to fight bacteria. Make your own floor deodorizer with eight drops of lavender oil to ½ cup of baking soda. Sprinkle it over your carpet, let it sit for a few minutes, and vacuum.
Rev up your recall
What else can lavender do again? Oh, yes, improve your memory. A recent study found that nursing students who took a sniff of lavender right before a test scored much higher than their peers. Those test takers retained more information, concentrated better, and were less anxious. The study also suggested college kids might find aromatherapy a cost-effective remedy.
Tamp down motion sickness
You get this condition when your inner ear’s senses go at odds with how you see movement around you. That confusion can make you dizzy and nauseated. Lavender can counteract that by distracting you with your sense of smell. Add in other sensory treats like ginger candies (and a smart seat choice).
Calm a fussy baby
Is your newborn fussy and colicky? Lavender might save the day — and maybe the night. In one study, mothers of 40 infants between two and six weeks old massaged their babies’ tummies with one drop of lavender oil in 20 milliliters of almond oil. The massaged babies quieted down more quickly than others, and they cried less each week of the study.
Looking for a natural, nontoxic remedy to quash these buggers? In a study, a lavender and tea tree oil treatment worked better than pyrethrin, a pesticide made from chrysanthemum flowers.
Chill hot flashes
Menopause happens when a woman stops having a monthly period, usually around their late 40s or early 50s. It can bring on hot flashes, sudden warm flushes that sweep over your body and put a wrench in your daily life. But women in a study who sniffed lavender for 20 minutes twice a week reported their flashes faded up to 50 per cent more than women who did not use the lavender aromatherapy.
Not only does it smell nice, lavender fights bacteria. It’s an ideal ingredient for a do-it-yourself hand sanitizer:
To make your lavender hand sanitizer, fill a 75-ml bottle up to 20 ml with vodka. Add 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil and the same amount of tea tree peppermint oil. Fill the rest of the bottle with aloe vera gel. Shake and use as a backup to washing with soap and water.
Lavender can’t catch your fall, but it might help keep you from falling. Nursing home residents in Japan who wore lavender patches every day for a year fell less often than those who went scent-free. Researchers don’t know exactly why. But it could be that lavender helped soothe agitation and improved balance. However it works, it’s a pleasant way to sail through the day.
Jazz up your laundry
Lavender is thought to come from the Latin word lavare, meaning “to wash.” No wonder it makes such a great deodorizer-freshener duo for your laundry. Add four drops of lavender oil to the water in your iron for steamy scent. You can also put a few drops right into your washing machine. Or make your own fragrant dryer sheet with a few drops of lavender on a dry cloth. Toss it into the dryer with your wet laundry.
• Adapted from webmd.com