The Versatile Herb Lavender Brings Many Benefits
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 by: Luella May, citizen journalist
(NaturalNews) Lavender is one of the more versatile and useful of all herbs, with a long history of use in medicinal healing. Essential oils extracted from this herb are used for medicinal purposes for both humans as well as pets and lavender is also a popular fragrance found throughout the cosmetic industry. The scent of lavender is associated with comfort and aromatherapists have long used lavender in the treatment of depression and nervous conditions.
Though mainstream medicine has regarded aromatherapy as an unproven therapy with only placebo effect benefits, a recent study in Japan proved otherwise. The study, which appeared in the American Chemical Society`s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that inhaling the fragrant compound linalool made stress-elevated levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes return to near normal levels (both neutrophils and lymphocytes are key parts of the immune system). Lavender was cited as the plant which has the highest concentrations of linalool.
The herb lavender was originally native to Mediterranean countries. Today it can be found in Europe, Australia, and the southern portion of the United States. There are two different types of lavender: Spike lavender has broad spatula-like leaves; French lavender leaves are narrower with small dark flowers. Spike lavender contains a higher content of ceneol and camphor and produces three times as much oil as French lavender. The higher content of these ingredients makes it less pleasing, however, and French lavender is considered the more fragrant of the two.
Numerous studies have reported that lavender essential oils may be beneficial in a number of conditions, including migraines, headaches, depression, anxiety, mood swings, fear, and exhaustion. Lavender can also be used during labor and it has been found to be useful for eczema and dermatitis. In addition, lavender has also been used to treat cancer in the breast, liver, and spleen.
Other conditions lavender has been used for include: heart palpitations, arthritis, joint inflammation, fainting, neuralgia, vertigo, insomnia, epilepsy and other seizures, rheumatism, sore muscles, sprains, flatulence, colic, nausea, vomiting, toothache, acne, wounds, snakebites, hoarseness, loss of voice, allergies, sunburn and sunstroke, abscess, alopecia, asthma, athletes foot, insect bites, boils, burns, colds, colic, coughs, cystitis, earache and respiratory infections.
Lavender lifts spirits, stimulates appetite, and even dispels flatulence. Lavender is a major ingredient in the use of smelling salts. Pets also benefit through lavender's healing properties. It is used not only as a sedative, but also as a flea and tick repellent. Besides health and cosmetics, lavender is also used in flavoring foods such as desserts, gelatins, puddings, candy and tea. In some areas of the world, it is added to salads. Lavender is used in a variety of commercial fragrances, such as perfumes, soaps, and toiletries. It is a scent commonly used in potpourri and sachets. Lavender was once used as an insect repellant in the storing of clothes.
Even though essential oils blend well with each other, lavender oil blends especially well with cedarwood, clary sage, geranium, pine, nutmeg, and all the citrus oils.
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About the author
Luella May is a Natural Health Advocate helping people to heal "naturally." Luella is in the midst of editing her ebook, "The 8 Invisible Stains of Our Souls" which will be available in the next few months. She partners with Tony Isaacs at The Best Years in Life and can be found as co-moderator of CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs" forums as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup". Luella also hosts "Oleandersoup for Pets, a forum which focuses on the health and wellbeing of our most cherished companions, our beloved pets.