You know that plant with those beautifully purple flowers? The one in your next door neighbor’s backyard. The one that he convinced you were edible…just to watch you pick them off and swallow them whole.
Although some forms of lavender are edible. It’s not customary to just eat the whole flower raw. But, I didn’t know that at the time. Oh well, how little and naive I was. Now, I know better. In fact, I know quite a bit about the fantastic healing abilities of lavender.
The botanical name of true lavender is Lavandula angustifolia. Although other types of lavender may also have beneficial uses, scientific research is on Lavandula angustifolia and it is the most highly regarded and therapeutic form of lavender.
We have now discovered hundreds of uses for lavender. It is known to be calming and relaxing to the nervous system, it eases depression, and improves mental performance. Lavender essential oils; heal burns, ease allergy symptoms, kill bacteria, neutralize the itch of insect bites, and is a natural antiseptic and antifungal substance. And that’s just to name a few.
Lavender has been used for 2500 years, dating back to the ancient Egyptian and Phoenician societies who used it for healing, embalming, and perfume. The Romans were known to use lavender for its medicinal and cleansing properties, scenting baths, as an insect repellent, and even for smoking!
Fun Fact: During the times of the Bubonic plague, lavender was used as a superstitious protection against the black death. People fastened stalks of lavender to their wrists and ankles to protect themselves, not truly understanding the exact reason behind it. Now, we know theat lavender repelled the fleas that carried the plague!
One of the most interesting aspects of lavender essential oil, however, is how it can help cancer patients.
Lavender for Cancer:
One of the active plant chemicals (phytochemicals) within lavender is perillyl alcohol. A 2015 study found that long-term inhalation of perillyl alcohol increased the lifespan of sick patients by a few years. Another study cited in 2016 found that Lavender caused significant cell death. It also found that combining it with paclitaxel significantly decreased tumor weight, compared to the use of paclitaxel alone.
How to use: Using a therapeutic grade lavender oil, massage oil directly into affected areas. Essential oils will be absorbed into the bloodstream within about 20 minutes. Lavender essential oil can also be diffused into the room using a cool mist diffuser. Never heat essential oils as it ruins their therapeutic properties.
Relief of anxiety and stress:
Lavender is excellent in its ability to calm the nervous system, and ease stress and anxiety. It also helps improve the quality and depth of sleep. A 2009 study confirmed lavender’s ability to improve mood, and to reduce anxiety and depression.
- How to use: Drip a few drops of lavender oil into your hands, rub hands together, and deeply inhale the scent for a minute or two to enjoy its calming effects. Lavender oil can also be diffused into the room using a cool mist diffuser. It can be applied to the soles of the feet prior to retiring to bed for the night. A drop or two of lavender oil can be applied directly on the pillow.
Improvement of immune system function:
Studies show that the anti-bacterial effects of Lavandula angustifolia help to protect the immuno-compromised cancer patient from bugs, even the dreaded Staphylococcus aureus, or golden staph (MRSA). It influences parts of the body’s immune system, and also influences genetic activity to help fight the infection.
- How to use: Massage lavender oil into the skin, making sure to use a therapeutic or medicinal grade of oil. The soles of the feet have the largest pores of the body, so this is a good place to apply essential oils, especially before going to bed at night. Lavender oil can also be diffused via a cool mist diffuser into the room where you work or study.
Lavender has long been used for pain relief. A study conducted in 2007 study examined the pain medication requirements of 54 patients undergoing laparoscopic gastric banding. 82% who only received a placebo required pain medication. Only, 46% of those who received lavender by inhalation required pain medication. Significantly less pain medication was required by those who received lavender in comparison to the placebo.
- How to use: Lavender can be inhaled directly from the hands or via a cool mist diffuser. Massage it into the skin of the affected area or soles of the feet.
However, as with any substance there are some cautions to be aware of.
Precautions of Lavender Essential Oil
- Make sure your lavender essential oil is derived from true lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, and not lavandin. Lavandin is often substituted by makers of cheaper essential oils because it yields more oil than true lavender. Lavandin is not a legitimate substitute for Lavandula angustifolia as it does not possess the same healing properties and should never be used on burns.
- The use of lavender may increase or potentiate both the narcotic and sedative effects of other drugs because of its calming effect on the central nervous system.
- Be cautious about using lavender together with anticoagulant drugs because the combination may increase the risk of bleeding.
- Never apply essential oils anywhere near the eyes or inside the ears.
- It is not recommended to use essential oils as a sole treatment for cancer, but used in combination with other therapies.