If you're looking to calm both the body and the mind (and let's face it—we could all do with a little relaxation right now), look no further than the classic essential oil: lavender. While the gorgeous purple plant itself is a sight to see, its versatile essential oil is where the healing powers are at. From your head to your toes, lavender oil can help you de-stress, decompress, and develop your healthiest routines yet.
In our last blog we explained what is lavender oil and how it is produced. Now for the wholesome goodness of what it can do ....
Health benefits of lavender oil
Essential oils and aromatherapy have gained quite the reputation for being a go-to in holistic health. Essential oils are the liquid extracts of plants, which can be used to help with everything from stress to sleep, hormone health to home cleaning, and beyond. But each essential oil is unique and offers its own specific benefits. Here's what you need to know about how one of the most popular essential oils, lavender oil, can promote well-being:
1. It helps you catch some serious zzz's
Any way you spin it, the foundation of a healthy lifestyle starts and ends with sleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, research suggests that lavender oil may be your saving grace: One study found that several whiffs of lavender oil before bed increased the percentage of deep sleep time in healthy men and women. It can even have beneficial effects for those who suffer from insomnia.
2. It helps manage stress
The soothing powers of lavender oil don't stop there. Some researchers have found that lavender oil performs well compared to some prescription medication for general anxiety. Maybe worth a try?
3. It soothes angry skin and can help with bug bites
Just as lavender oil can soothe the mind, it can also do wonders for calming the body. In particular, not-so-fun skin flare-ups like eczema and psoriasis have responded well to the anti-inflammatory properties of lavender oil. A review of the most popular essential oils and their functions in dermatology cited lavender oil's ability to calm irritated skin when used topically. What's more, the oil's de-stressing qualities come in handy for psoriasis, in which flare-ups are often triggered by anxiety.
It can even be used as a natural alternative for healing pesky bug bites—when mixed with a little baking soda and applied to the bites, you'll hardly even notice they're there.
4. It can combat fungal infections
Fungal infections occur when annoying fungi develop in or on damp parts of the body - for example, athlete's foot. Lavender oil has both antibacterial and antifungal properties, which could help clear these up.
5. It may help prevent hair loss
While the research is still preliminary, one study has shown that applying lavender oil stimulated hair growth on all facets: from follicle number to depth to thickness. While the jury is still out on this one, bit may inspire you to add a couple of drops of lavender to your DIY hair mask or shampoo bar.
6. It has wound-healing properties
Minor wounds, that is. Some studies have found that when applied topically, lavandula angustifolia oil closed wounds more quickly than other solutions, such as saline and iodine over the course of a five-day period. Researchers chalked this phenomenon up to improving the quantity of EGF, or epidermal growth factor, in the skin, which is necessary for regenerating tissue.
7. It can help ease a headache
Pounding head? Try a whiff of lavender. Even the effects of migraines may be reduced by regular 15-minute lavender-smelling sessions.
8. It gives you a natural glow
Lavender oil is lauded for both its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which makes it a quality contender to include in your clean skin care routine. Antioxidants are known to fight off the free radicals that can send your skin into a tizzy by impairing mitochondrial function and speeding up the process of aging. Including a drop or two of lavender oil into your favorite lotion or face cream will give your skin a boost of antioxidant power before bed (and will add a touch of soothing aromatherapy to your nighttime routine).
How exactly do I use or apply lavender oil?
Just as there are myriad benefits of lavender oil, there are myriad ways to use it. It's typically used topically for skin and hair health although methods can differ based on your preferred ways of application. It's wise not to go too heavy-handed with the oil—since it's highly concentrated, two or three drops are most likely all you need.
When it comes to your skin, dilution is important: The oil can be applied topically to help with irritated or inflamed skin but only if it has been diluted in a "carrier oil" or neutral, minimally processed oil such as coconut, or olive. The mixture can be used just as you would a lotion or moisturizer, once or twice daily. For hair health, you can massage a couple of drops of lavender oil into your scalp as a calming end to the day, or add two or three drops to each dollop of shampoo or conditioner you use.
If it's improving anxiety or getting a sound night's sleep that you're after, putting your oil in a diffuser is your best bet. There are a few ways to use the scent of lavender for your benefit, one of the most popular being diffusion. Essential oil diffusion consists of using a small device to disperse particles of oil into the air, allowing for easy inhalation. If you'd rather not diffuse, a few deep inhales of the scent before bed (or anytime you need a moment of calm) will do the trick. You can even draw the perfect calming herbal bath using a few drops of lavender to soak your stresses away.
Potential side effects to look out for
If you're ready to dive into the lavender lifestyle, there are still a couple of factors to consider. Some side effects include skin irritation or an allergic reaction, so putting a patch test on your skin before use can save you some trouble. Just as with any new supplement, chatting with a medical professional before use is recommended. Though lavender oil is safe for most individuals, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult with a doctor.