A popular addition to many gardens, lavender is recognisable for its spikes of purple, bee-friendly flowers and distinctive floral fragrance. Originating from North Africa and the Mediterranean, lavender is much more than just a pretty flower, however. For centuries, it has been used to treat a whole host of ailments, promoting health and wellbeing naturally.
Oil is extracted from lavender flowers to make an essential oil, which has many uses. Frequently, it is added to health and beauty products to invoke feelings of calm and soothing stress relief. Lavender essential oil is commonly used by massage therapists to create a relaxing massage experience, while a few drops of oil placed on a pillow is said to improve sleep quality. One study discovered that dental patients experienced lower anxiety levels when they were exposed to lavender oil fragrance.
Treat minor skin problems
Studies have found that lavender contains potent quantities of anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, making it invaluable in helping to treat minor skin issues, such as burns, bites and fungal infections. Scientists have also discovered that lavender oil can help to speed up the healing of wounds. It’s no wonder then that it is frequently added to many skin creams and lotions.
Several studies point to the fact that lavender is effective at encouraging hair to grow, making it a useful remedy for those suffering from hair loss conditions such as alopecia. In fact, one study found that participants who applied lavender oil to their head for seven months noticed hair growth of up to 44%. As well as promoting hair growth, lavender – in combination with tea tree oil – is highly rated as a natural method for treating head lice.
Lavender is an analgesic and contains anti-inflammatory agents called linalyl acetate and linalool, which have proven to be helpful in easing aches and pains. For example, rubbing a few drops of lavender essential oil to the temples on the sides of the head can help to reduce headache and migraine symptoms. Some studies also conclude that aromatherapy using it can play a helpful role in lowering the intensity of pain during labour or ease aches associated with osteoarthritis.
Lavender essential oil should never be ingested, but you can consume the flowers, which can be made into teas or even used to add flavour in baking. You can readily find herbal teas containing it, but making your own infusion is easy enough. Simply steep a teaspoon of lavender flowers in boiling water for around 10 minutes, strain, and then drink the liquid. The infusion can help with digestive problems such as cramps, nausea, bloating and wind. In fact, in Germany, doctors prescribe the tea as a natural digestive aid to their patients.
Reduce diabetes symptoms
Although research is still very much in its infancy on this one, scientists in Tunisia discovered that lavender oil, when applied topically to the chest and neck area, displayed a reduction in symptoms in those with diabetes. This included stabilising blood sugar levels and protection against fat metabolism. With cases of type 2 diabetes rapidly rising across the globe, this initial research could pave the way for further investigations to treat this increasingly widespread condition.