The Provence lavender fields are among the best in the world and a major attraction in the South of France. They are one of the few places on earth where you can truly immerse yourself in the experience of wandering through these scented attractions and inhale the volatile compounds. From mid-June to mid-July, the Provence lavender fields are in full blossom.
Research is limited, but there is growing evidence suggesting that lavender is used as a complementary remedy for relaxation, sleep problems, anxiety and depression.
Several animal and human studies suggest lavender therapeutic effectiveness in neurological disorders when inhaling the volatile compounds. The studies show that lavender has mood stabilizer, sedative, analgesic, anticonvulsive and neuroprotective properties.
Lavender for anxiety and depression
Lavender was shown to improve anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD), restlessness and agitation, disturbed sleep and had a positive influence on general well-being.
In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers found that inhaling lavender oil significantly reduced the symptoms of anxiety and depression in participants.
Lavender for sleep and relaxation
Lavender is an excellent natural remedy to treat insomnia and improve the quality of sleep.
A blend of essential oils including lavender, basil, juniper and marjoram was proven to reduce sleep disturbance and improve the overall well-being in older patients.
Lavender for pain
Lavender was successful in the acute management of migraine headaches.
Forty-seven patients suffering from migraine claimed significant reduction of associated pain after fifteen minutes inhalation of lavender oil (2-3 drops of lavender essential oil rubbed onto their upper lip).
Aroma oil massage with an essential oil blend of lavender, clary sage and marjoram in a 2:1:1 ratio was effective to relieve pain and tension.
Aromatherapy massage with a blend of lavender, rose, geranium and jasmine essential oils in almond and primrose oils once a week for 8 weeks was found effective for symptoms such as hot flushes and depression in menopausal women.
Lavender for cognition and mood
Lavender has also shown positive effects to enhance cognition, performance of working memory, elevation and maintainance of good mood. Participants used four drops of lavender essential oil applied to a diffuser pad, and the scent of lavender improved their cognition and emotional state.
In the work environment, there was an improvement in the emotional state of participants following the use of lavender oil burners. After using lavender oil for a 3-month period, nearly 90% of respondents (66 subjects) reported an improvement in the work environment and work-related mistakes.
Diffusing a blend of rosemary and lemon essential oils in the morning, and lavender and orange essential oils in the evening showed a significant cognitive improvement in 28 elderly patients suffering from different forms of dementia.
How to use lavender essential oil
There are several ways you can incorporate essential oils into your daily life.
Lavender can be diffused, use topical products for aromatherapy massage, bath and even taken orally.
Unlike many other essential oils used in aromatherapy, lavender oil is often applied undiluted to skin, since it has a safer profile.
Taken orally, make sure it is from a trusted brand, recommended for oral use and approved by your healthcare professional.
The existing evidence suggests that short-term therapy with lavender is relatively safe. However, long-term trials and observational studies are needed to establish the safety of using lavender on the long term. The use of lavender over an extended period of time should be supervised by a qualified healthcare professional.
Lavender essential oil can be poisonous if ingested orally.
Lavender can be effective for low to mild forms of anxiety and depression. For more serious neurological problems, you should always seek your doctor’s advice.