I get it. The days are upon us. It's that time of year where we get stressed out. But it doesn't have to be that way. Really. There is a better way. What if I was to tell you that it's better than any neurotrophic drug, and of course, the best part, with no bad side effects. Lavender. First of all, the word just rolls off your tongue like a gentle, warm breeze.
Second, it has been around for a long, long time and it's benefits to soothe the raging beast are well-known and well-documented.
What lavender actually does in our brain is pretty amazing when you peer into the actual science. No, I'm not going to get all geeky on you, but this stuff is fascinating to say the least. Lavender works on the Autonomic Nervous System as well as the Sympathetic Nervous System - that part of us responsible for the "fight or flight" response.
Here are just a few things lavender has been shown to do
1) Reduces anxiety. An oral lavender oil preparation was superior to placebo in 221 patients suffering from anxiety disorder.
2) Lavender aromatherapy showed significant improvement on depression and anxiety with women that were at high risk for postpartum effects.
3) Lavender odor reduced anxiety in dental patients.
4) The inhalation of lavender for 3 minutes was reported to increase the alpha and theta waves in all brain regions. This was evidenced by EEG readings. Furthermore, lavender aromatherapy is reported to produce EEG patterns characteristic of subjects' feeling comfortable. This is powerful as these waves are responsible for deep relaxation.
5) Lavender has been shown to have very positive improvements in sleep quality. A study was performed on benzodiazepine-dependent geriatric patients who were taken off and given lavender odor showing improved sleep quality.
6) Lavender as a pain modulator. It has been shown to help with reduction of pain post-surgery; improving and alleviating neck and back pain improving movement of the cervical and lumbar spine.
7) Lavender is a cognitive enhancer. It was shown that unconscious perception of lavender odor can significantly affect the rate of errors made in the mathematical and letter counting tests.
8) Post-traumatic stress disorder patients showed significant improvements of their general mental health status and quality of life.
Uses for Lavender
- Use in a hot bath (as hot as you can take it of course without burning or being uncomfortable) along with another oil like coconut. For a full tub, 8 drops are good along with maybe a tablespoon of the other oil. Add 1-2 cups of Epsom’s salts for a truly calming, relaxing experience.
- Place several drops on the sides of your pillow where your nose would be just before sleep. Don't worry, it won't stain your pillow if you have a very pure essential oil. They are technically speaking not really an "oil" but an ester.
- Massage a few drops on the soles of your feet. Lavender oil can have a skin reaction for some people so do a test first on your skin to see if you have a reaction.
- Make a tea out of lavender that can be drunk hot or cold. Warning! If you have some serious thinking or study to do lavender has been shown to impair performance of working memory at the time of inhalation as it activates theta brain waves - the brain waves responsible for putting you in a state of very deep relaxation.
4 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons dried lavender
1 drop lavender oil (add at the very end after you have strained the tea)
Honey (local is preferred, to taste)
Lemon (to taste, or lemongrass - which also has a profound relaxation impact on the central nervous system)
Remove pot from burner and steep for 10 minutes, strain. Add the lavender essential oil at this time.
And, now, we are ready for Lavender to start a revolution. To save the world from all it’s stress and tension. It all begins with you and me, one person at a time.
Tell me how you enjoy using lavender. And please share with me any of these tips you have found helpful and begun to use in your life to make you a saner, kinder, more reasonable person. Peace.