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Lavender has long been a favorite plant for use in essential oils and for its lovely scent in sachets. Those are useful and pleasant effects, but hidden inside this unassuming and easy-to-grow plant are abilities that modern medicine can't provide. Among other benefits, lavender can counteract drug resistant staph infections (MRSA) and fungal infections.
And that's not the end of lavender's health benefits. It's one of nature's great gifts, providing all of the following benefits:
- Treatment for Drug-resistant Infections
- Treatment for Fungal Infections
- Pain Relief
- Insomnia Treatment
- Nerve Tonic: Noted for easing migraines, nervous exhaustion, anxiety, and depression
- Respiratory Problems: asthma, bronchitis, sinus congestion, laryingitis, tonsilitis, and other respiratory system problems.
- Blood Circulation
- Improve Digestion: Can help with colic, vomiting, and flatulence.
- Immune System Enhancer
- Mosquito and Moth Repellence
- Easing Agitation in Dementia Patients
- Alopecia Areata (An autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out in patches)
- Nail Fungus
- Athlete's Foot
- Skin Conditions
The most common preparation from lavender is as an essential oil from the species Lavandula angustifolia, commonly known as English or common lavender. There are 39 species and most have similar applications. However, because it's most commonly used and studied, this article refers specifically to L. angustifolia, unless stated otherwise.
The oil is used both for its scent and as a topical application. There have been claims that the oil is allergenic to some people when applied to the skin. However, many of those instances appear to be focused primarily on incidents of a single chemical that can be isolated from lavender, rather than from the oil itself. Single chemicals isolated from plants can prove to be dangerous when their symbiotic effects in coordination with the whole plant material are safe.
Linalool and linalyl acetate have been isolated and called the active ingredients. However, the effects noted here are associated with lavender oil, not chemicals isolated from it.
Drug Resistant Infections
MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, is becoming commonplace. It originated in hospitals as a result of overuse and misuse of antibiotics and has become symbolic of out-of-control mainstream medicine. The disease created by antiobiotics used for treatment of staph infections is often far worse than the original.
A large number of studies have demonstrated lavender oil's ability to treat both staph infections and MRSA. Most commonly, L. angustifolia has been used. However, at least one study looks at three other varieties, L. latifolia, L. stoechas, and L. luisieri. It found them all effective, but also noted that combinations of different varieties appeared to provide even better curative ability.
Most exciting, though, is that lavender oil has been found 100% effective in lab testing to treat some infections, including MRSA. That means it could be used to treat staph infections that drugs can't touch. That, of course, begs the question of why hospitals let people suffer and die, rather than trying natural products proven to be effective, such as lavender oil and manuka oil.
Though the range of bacteria that succomb to lavender oil is not known, many do. If you wish to try it, first be sure that you aren't allergic to it by applying a bit of oil on normal skin. If you don't have a bad reaction—and very few people do—then simply apply the oil to the infected area.
Fungal infections can be among the most difficult to treat, and can be fatal, especially in immunocompromised people. The fungus Candida albicans normally lives in the human gut, forming a symbiotic relationship with us. It rarely causes problems unless the balance of gut fauna is disturbed—which commonly happens when antibiotics are given. It's the cause of both yeast infections in women and thrush, which is C. albicans in the mouth.
Vaginal yeast infections can be treated with a douche made with a tea of lavender blossoms. Because of the low concentration, though, it may require several applications. Better yet, drink tea made from lavender flowers as soon as you realize there's a likelihood of getting an infection, such as when taking antibiotics.
Nail fungal infections and athlete's foot can readily be treated by applying lavender oil.
Lavender oil used for its aroma, as in aromatherapy, has been documented to improve heart health. It reduces inflammation, which is associated with heart disease, by inhibiting cortisol. Blood flow, measured as coronary flow velocity reserve (CFVR), is increased, thus providing better oxygenation, nutrition, and waste removal to cells.
These benefits were found by using 4 drops of essential aromatherapy lavender oil in 20 milliliters of hot water, and then inhaling for 30 minutes.
Improve Digestion, Flatulence, Nausea
L. angustifolia has long been used as a digestive aid. It improves the motility of intestinal tract, allowing food to pass through more readily. Gastric juice production, including bile, is increased, which improves digestion and nutrient absorption. Colic, vomiting, and flatulence have all been helped through the use of lavender.
Lavender improves motility of intestinal tract. It stimulates production of gastric juices, including bile, and can help with colic, vomiting, and flatulence. An interesting benefit is that lavender gently inhibits the growth of pathogens, but according to one study, it doesn't harm beneficial bacteria. How it distinguishes between harmful and beneficial bacteria is a mystery!
As a digestive aid, lavender oil can be taken as a tea.
Lavender has long been noted as a relaxant and aid for mild insomnia. Its use for this purpose is generally through aromatherapy application. Inhalation of lavender oil scent has been used successively in geriatric patients to replace sleeping pills. Patients slept just as long and their sleep was of a better quality. Their daytime wakefulness and alertness were significantly improved, and no adverse effects were reported.
A small clinical trial that covered 245 nights of elderly patients found that those who received lavender oil scent slept much better. Of those who received lavender oil, 72% slept well, while only 11% of the controls did.
It's difficult to see why anyone would take a sleeping pill without first trying lavender!