LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL
IN NATURAL SKINCARE PRODUCTS
Lavender is used in many natural skincare products, including handcrafted soaps, natural lotions, natural facial moisturizers and cleansers, and salt and sugar exfoliating scrubs. It is often combined with other, complementary essential oils, such as Lavender Lemongrass or Lavender Bergamot. It’s considered a classic scent for skincare and enjoyed by both women and men.
The name “lavender” originates from the Old French “lavandre.” Lavandula angustifolia (true lavender) is a member of the Lamiaceae or Mint family. Common names include English Lavender and Garden Lavender. The herb’s name comes from the Latin lavare, which means “to wash.” It is native to the Mediterranean region. Use of lavender spread from the Mediterranean region to India and then to Tibet. In both regions, lavender gained a reputation for helping to quell anxiety and clear the mind. By the late Middle Ages, lavender was commonly grown in Monastery gardens and used as a soothing tonic. Lavender water or lavender tea was prescribed to relieve insomnia, tension and depression.
A number of studies have reported that lavender essential oil may be beneficial in a variety of conditions, including insomnia, alopecia (hair loss), anxiety, stress, and postoperative pain. However, most of these studies have been small. Lavender is also being studied for antibacterial and antiviral properties. Lavender oil is often used in other forms of integrative medicine, such as massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic manipulation.
Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders. Studies also suggest that massage with essential oils, particularly lavender, may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, better concentration, and reduced anxiety. In one recent study, people who received massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than those who received massage alone.
Several small studies suggest that lavender aromatherapy may help reduce agitation in patients with dementia. Lavender flowers have also been approved in Germany as a tea for insomnia, restlessness, and nervous stomach irritations.
In modern herbal medicine, lavender is most commonly prescribed as a mild, calming sedative for insomnia and sleep disorders, to settle indigestion and nervous intestinal complaints and to treat minor nervous ailments. Lavender oil uses in aromatherapy headache and migraine relief, and relief of emotional upsets. The mind and the body can be relaxed and soothed down by the inhalation of a lavender tincture (made from the essential oil of the lavender); smelling the lavender flowers also induces this effect in the body. Topical use of diluted lavender oil or use of lavender as aromatherapy is generally considered safe for most adults. However, applying lavender oil directly to the skin can cause irritation.
University of Maryland Medical Center
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