Reduce Stress and Anxiety with Lavender Essential Oil
Lavandula angustifolia or lavender is considered the most common essential oil. Lavender oil benefits include having a calming, relaxing effect. It’s considered a nervous system restorative and helps with inner peace, sleep, restlessness, irritability, panic attacks, nervous stomach and general nervous tension. The fragrance is calming, relaxing and balancing – physically and emotionally. Carrying a bottle of lavender around with you is like having your own personal first aid kit, perfume and pick-me-up.
Essential oils have a long tradition in pharmaceutical sciences as natural products with pharmacological, cosmetic, agrochemical and nutritional applications (Bakkali et al., 2008). The use of EO in form of aromatherapy or phytotherapy is widely extended, some of them being used as agents to relieve anxiety and stress (Setzer, 2009). Phytotherapy consists of the use of medicinal plants in order to prevent, cure or threat illnesses. Aromatherapy can be understood as a subdivision of phytotherapy and defined as the use of essential oils regarding therapeutic effects. These products have been used for centuries and are accepted in traditional or modern healthcare systems of medicine. Medicinal plants are widely used for the treatment of central nervous system disorders (Wheatley, 2005) but in some cases there is still a lack of preclinical and clinical studies.
Central nervous system disorders have a great impact in society due to a general aging process of the population as well as lifestyle. Stress is one of the most prevalent psychological disorders in developed countries leading to other clinical features, such as anxiety, insomnia or depression.
Certain EO are being used as anxiolytic remedies and the administration mode can be orally, also by inhalation or combined with massage. One of the most popular essential oils for mental disorders and anxiety is lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Miller or Lavandula officinalis Chaix). Lavender essential oil can be considered as one of the best-selling over the counter herbal remedies for anxiety, stress and depression. Studies reveal high content of linalool and linalyl acetate (Da Porto et al., 2009) and international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approve this medicinal plant to relieve stress, restlessness and anxiety (Community)1.
The growing awareness of the adverse effects of central nervous system drugs has led to develop new strategies and safer pharmacological agents in mental health. Enzymes, such as monoamine oxidase (MAO), proteins, such as the SERT and ligand-gated ion channels, such as GABAA and NMDA receptors are therapeutic targets in neuropharmacology. With the aim to contribute to evidence-based herbal medicine we have studied the effects of lavender essential oil on pharmacological targets involved in anxiolytic and antidepressive properties.
Here are some other uses for lavender oil:
Take a lavender bath with epson salts to soothe muscles.
Lavender oil is one of the most valuable oils for the treatment of acne, because it inhibits the bacteria that cause the skin infections, helps to rebalance the over-secretion of sebum, which the bacteria thrives on, and reduce scarring.
Add 5 drops of lavender essential oil to a hot foot bath and relax while your feet soak it in. The soles of the feet are very porous so lavender reaches the bloodstream very quickly.
To help to reduce sleep, put 3-4 drops of lavender oil on your pillow.
Adding 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil into a carrier oil (like coconut, jojoba or almond oil) makes a great natural anti-stress oil for massage.
Add 2-4 drops of lavender essential oil to 2-3 cups of boiling hot water. Studies suggest inhalation for approximately 30 min. in a well ventilated space.