Essential oils from the flowering herb lavender have been indicated for a variety of medicinal uses. While many people are familiar with the aromatherapy benefits of lavender, the list of lavender-derived health benefits continues to grow as of 2011. Lavender is believed to include calming nerves, easing digestive systems, and reducing stress and headaches, to name a few.
For medicinal purposes, lavender oil generally is extracted from the light purple flowers and administered either orally or as an inhalant. The oil has been evaluated in multiple studies, and the results suggest the medical benefits of lavender to be plentiful. Although the studies have been relatively small, the results have been compelling enough that lavender is marketed as a natural remedy for insomnia; stress; alopecia, or hair loss; and post-operative pain.
Lavender oil contains linalool, which has expectorant and antiseptic qualities. The existence of linalool in the herb means the benefits of lavender include the ability to open bronchial passage ways and reduce inflammation during an allergic response. For this reason, allergy medicines and cough suppressants may contain lavender or linalool.
Lavender inherently has what generally is considered a pleasant smell, and that scent has been exploited as a stress-relieving agent for aromatherapy uses. From lavender-scented bath salts to relaxation candles and lotions, these benefits of lavender are widely touted. Fresh lavender flowers and the oil that can be extracted from their petals are responsible for producing the aromatic pros of lavender.
Beyond aromatherapy, some health and wellness benefits of lavender may be less well-known but are equally extensive. Also based on the use of lavender oil, the herb is said to affect other stress-related symptoms, including insomnia, hair loss, anxiety, depression and headaches. All of these may be helped by consuming or inhaling lavender oil. Some scientific evidence has suggested that lavender slows the nervous system, thereby inducing a relaxed state, especially for those who suffer from sleep disorders.
Other benefits of lavender that have been explored include anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and post-operative pain management. Professional herbalists have relied on lavender oil to clear up fungal infections, acne and eczema, and even to serve as a wound-healing agent. A study that used inhaled lavender oil as a supplement in the oxygen supply for post-surgery patients found another benefit of lavender in that patients who received the lavender supplement demonstrated better pain control following surgery.
As with any natural remedy, it is recommended that one consult a physician to address any potentially harmful effects or dangers of consuming lavender oil. Children should not be administered lavender orally. Pregnant and nursing women should not consume lavender.