Lavender essential oil has been used for years but only recently have studies began that have either confirmed or contradicted the oil’s rumored healing properties. The plant, which is native to the Mediterranean landscape, contains an oil in its blossoms that can be extracted for medical purposes. It is used by the public to heal cuts and burns, treat sleep disorders and stress, cure baldness and heal acne. There is data that supports that the oil may be beneficial for stomach issues and headaches. The following are findings from scientific studies done around the globe that tested the oil’s properties.
Antibacterial and Anti-fungal Properties
A study that was published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology stated that lavender essential oil was highly effective when applied to wounds. It eliminated infection causing bacteria and allowed wounds to heal quickly and naturally.
A study that was conducted by researchers at the University of Coimbra in Portugal tested the oil’s effectiveness against a large range of bacteria and pathogens. The studies found that the oil was incredibly successful at eliminating the organisms. This study was supported by Professor Ligia Salguerio, who agreed that the scientific components of lavender oil attack bacteria and dangerous organisms. Salguerio documented that the oil serves as a powerful disinfectant and should be extensively researched to see if the oil may be able to prevent the spread of serious diseases.
Ability To Heal Wounds and Burns
A study conducted at Celal Bayar University in Turkey that was published by Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine explored the effects of several different medications on lab rats. The solutions included lavender oil. The results showed that the lavender oil helped cuts and lacerations at a faster rate than all other solutions except for one where the results were equal in effectiveness.
Ability To Stop Balding
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCB) has listed lavender essential oil as a successful treatment for alopecia, a disease where the body attacks its own hair follicles and results in thinning and balding. A controlled study showed that when the oil was applied topically to the scalp, hair growth was promoted in a significant percentage of participants. The findings suggested that the oil can promote new hair growth by nearly 44% after 7 months of treatment.
Fear of the dentist is one of the most common fears today. Lavender oil can serve as a calming agent and its full spectrum of possible results were investigated by King’s College in London. A researcher on the team, Metaxis Kritsidima, explained the problems with dental fear. If patients are too afraid to visit their dentist and receive proper treatment, oral issues can deepen and serious health problems can occur.
A group of over three hundred adults was formed. Their reactions were recorded as they sat in a dental chair waiting for a procedure to begin. Half of the participants were given lavender essential oil to inhale while the other half were not given anything. The results showed that the patients who were exposed to the aroma of the lavender oil displayed less tension when compared to the group of patients who were not given the oil. More studies are to follow to see if lavender can be a natural stress reliever for situations that can bring on anxiety.
Post Surgery Healing
A controlled study was perfromed that focused on the effect of aromatherapy after surgery was completed on morbidly obese patients. All were undergoing laparoscopi adjustable gastric banding. The study was carried out on 54 patients in total. Half of the patients were treated with lavender oil that was applied to their oxygen masks while the other half had nonscented baby oil applied to their oxygen masks. The patients were then asked about their pain levels at different time intervals. All of the patients were treated with morphine for pain as required. The group that was being treated with lavender oil had a lower request for pain medication with only 12 patients asking for morphine (46%). The group that was only treated with baby oil had 22 patients request morphine (82%). The group treated with the baby oil also requested higher dosages of morphine, with an average of 4.26 mg while the group being treated with lavender oil only required 2.38 mg of morphine.
A study was completed at Shitennoji University in Japan that focused on whether or not lavender essential oil would help alleviate symptoms related to menstruation in women. The research was based on a group of 17 women who documented their symptoms during a month without using lavender and then a month while using it as treatment. The results were varied but concluded that lavender could be a potential treatment for symptoms such as bloating, irritation and fatigue and would require more research.
Studies have been conducted on lavender oil that focused on other ailments but yielded inconsistent results and therefore the oil is not currently listed as a possible treatment to the following conditions. It should be noted though that many people still benefit from lavender oil while suffering from these ailments.
- Upset Stomachs
As any essential oil, lavender oil should always be tested before use. Place a small amount on the skin and wait a full day to see if any irritation, redness or swelling occurs. There is not enough evidence to support if the use of lavender oil is safe in pregnant or breastfeeding women and should therefore be avoided. While it is deemed to be safe for children, it should be used with caution, especially in young boys who may develop breasts due to possible hormone changes brought on by lavender essential oil.
Lavender oil should be used with extreme caution if the following medications are taken, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
- Barbiturates: Lavender oil can bring on a sense of relaxation and may be increased to a dangerous level with the use of barbiturates.
- Benzodiazepines: An individual may become increasingly drowsy and lethargic if lavender oil is used while taking benzodiazepines.
- Chloral hydrate: Lavender oil can increase the effectiveness of chloral hydrate, causing extreme fatigue.