A little background
The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means “to wash.” Lavender may have earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. However, this herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled.
What research says
According to the Natural Medicines, Comprehensive Data Base, compiled by the editors of Pharmacist Letter and Prescriber’s Letter, two of Lavender’s constituents, both members of a class of compound known as monoterpenes; perillyl alcohol, and limonenes “are reported to have anticancer activity in vitro and in experimental animals”. In addition, Lavender is being investigated for treating human breast, ovarian and prostate cancers.
With this in mind, I would like to share with the reader, my observation on the uses of Lavender Essential Oil and Flower, in hopes that it could help those in need and perhaps, stimulate further Medical interest.
In 1993, a study announced at the American Association Cancer Research (AARC), annual meeting, which was held in Orlando, FL, May 19-22, 1993. The study was on the uses of perillyl alcohol and limonenes, from Lavender Essential Oil, in reducing cancerous tumors in rats. Dr. Michael N. Gould, reported that “60% to 80% of the tumors completely regressed when laboratory rats were fed perillyl alcohol.” According to Dr. Gould, “the nature of their effectiveness is as follows; as agents of prevention, these components, appear to spur enzymes that detoxify dangerous carcinogens.”
- Calming Lavender tea, also effective in reducing dandruff
Lavender flowers (fresh or dried) emit a strong, aromatic, uplifting scent when crushed between the fingers. For a quick mood pick-me-up or instant stress relief, crush and roll between your fingers a few of the flower buds and inhale the scent slowly and deeply. The combination of breathing deeply and inhaling the lavender scent will calm nervous tension, anxiety and panicky feelings within minutes. Lavender tea also works as rinse to reduce dandruff.
- Induce better sleep
A relaxing, soothing tea can be made from the flowers. Just put one heaping tablespoon of the fresh or dried flowers in a tea pot, and pour boiling water into the pot. Infuse for about ten minutes. This tea calms the nerves, settles the stomach and “butterflies” and induces sleep.
- Make a relaxing Lavender Bath
Add several drops of lavender oil to your bath for a soothing soak, or just add a generous handful of the fresh or dried flowers if you don’t have the essential oil for it’s relaxing effects.
- Lavender Pillow
To make sleep more restful, wrap a handful of the dried flowers in a cheesecloth sachet, tie and throw in your pillowcase.
To soothe a sunburn, add a few drops of the essential oil to water in a spray bottle, and mist sunburned skin
- Insect Bites, cuts, scrapes
Apply lavender essential oil to insect bites and stings, cuts, scrapes and abrasions. Lavender is very anti-septic and helps destroy germs that can cause infections.
Lavender vinegar is known for its antiseptic properties and thus it may be helpful in fighting acne.
In an Iranian study posted by the Natural Medicines database, tincture of lavender taken orally was found to be just slightly less effective than imipramine in treating mild to moderate depression. It showed promise, however, as a complementary therapy to other antidepressants.
- Keep your clothes fresh
Wrap a handful of lavender flowers in a square of cheesecloth and tie with a string. You can also drip a few drops of essential oil on to the sachet for an extra aromatherapy boost. Throw the sachet in your dryer to make your clothes smell great. This will freshen up to 25 dryer loads!
- Repel Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles
Wrap a bunch of lavender flowers in cheesecloth and tie with a string. Hang it in your closet to prevent damage from Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles. It keeps them away!
Side Effects and Cautions
- Lavender oil has been linked to abnormal development of breasts in boys. It contains compounds that act like female sex hormones and interfere with male hormones, researchers have determined.
- Topical use of diluted lavender oil or use of lavender as aromatherapy is generally considered safe for most adults. However, applying lavender oil to the skin can cause irritation. There have been reports that topical use can cause breast growth in young boys.
- Lavender oil may be poisonous if taken by mouth.
- When lavender teas and extracts are taken by mouth, they may cause headache, changes in appetite, and constipation.
- Using lavender with sedative medications may increase drowsiness.
And finally, some recipes
About 3 tablespoons fresh flowers (half this amount for dried ones) steeped 3-5 minutes in a pint of water just off the boil. This has a pale straw color but is plenty aromatic. You might try combining the lavender with mint leaves, too.
Use distilled white wine vinegar. Place “some” (say, a small handful) in a modicum (say, a pint) of vinegar. Put in a sunny window and let it stand 4-6 weeks. For more info about uses and great pictures, read this article.