The Relaxing, Sleep-Promoting, Health-Boosting Powers of Lavender

Natural health and wellness continue to be popular alternatives to conventional medicine. Among the many therapies available are those that come from plant sources, including essential oils and handmade lavender soap . Lavender is a popular herb and oil that is beneficial for its calming properties.

What Is Lavender?

Lavender is known as an evergreen plant, and there are several types of lavender. Lavandula angustifolia is the type most commonly used for healing.

The medicinal forms of lavender include essential oil extracted from its flowers and leaves, oral supplements, and topical creams and lotions for the skin and hair. Those who inhale it can realize many lavender aromatherapy benefits when its essential oil is placed in a diffuser.

Lavender’s Powerful Ingredients

Lavender contains ingredients that reduce inflammation and protect neurons, and its antioxidants protect and repair cells exposed to free radical damage.

Studies have shown that exposure to the scent of lavender can not only boost one’s mood, but relax the mind and body, promote a better quality of sleep, and enhance overall wellness. This herb has been used to calm symptoms of anxiety, aggression, restlessness, and anger. Lavender also possesses anti-bacterial properties, and it can be used as a natural pain reliever.

Other studies have revealed that when used in skin massage, lavender’s healing ingredients—linalool and linalyl acetate—can be detected in the bloodstream soon after they are applied, and they reach their peak beneficial level in under 19 minutes. 1

Lavender and the Blood-Brain Barrier

A few lavender plants in a jean pocket.

Lavender’s ability to lower stress and anxiety has both to do with its properties as an essential oil and its effects on particular parts of the body. For example, when lavender essential oil is inhaled, its molecules are small enough to pass through the blood-brain barrier.

The blood-brain barrier is a semi-permeable layer between the brain and the blood; its purpose is to defend the body against toxins and pathogens that might be in the blood from reaching the brain. However, while the blood-brain barrier won’t allow toxins or pathogens to pass through to the brain, it does allow water, oxygen and other gases, and vital nutrients to cross.

Studies have shown that when inhaled, lavender essential oil appears to affect the amygdala. This is the part of the brain that is linked to our memory, survival instinct, and emotion. Lavender essential oil also affects the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for our spatial awareness, as well as long- and short-term memory.

Lavender and Its Effect on Neural Pathways

GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a molecule that sends chemical messages in the brain, as well as the autonomic and peripheral nerves. These messages are received by GABA receptors. These receptors are located on the surface of brain and nerve cells.

Lavender stimulates the GABA receptors of the nerves and brain cells and causes these cells to become less able to carry anxiety-causing, electrically charged atoms. The result is a calming of the nerves.

Lavender and Sleep Research

Many medical studies have been conducted on the benefits of lavender for treating sleeping problems.

Geriatric Sleep Study

The Lancet medical journal published a study in which lavender oil was used as aromatherapy to relieve rebound insomnia. The geriatric patients who had developed the condition as a result of their medication being discontinued were able to restore their sleeping patterns when lavender aromatherapy was given. 2

College Student Sleep Study

Yet another study involving lavender and sleep was conducted in 2015, this time on college students with poor sleep patterns. 3 The controlled trial saw the students split into two study groups. All were educated about good sleep hygiene, but only one group received lavender in the form of a skin patch; the other group received a patch without lavender.

The sleep quality of both groups was seen to improve, but those who received the lavender patch experienced the most improvement in their sleep and also reported feeling more refreshed upon waking.

Effects of Lavender on Depression, Stress, and Anxiety

One study showed that oral lavender medication was as effective as the pharmaceutical drug Ativan at lowering anxiety and improving the quality of sleep. 4

Other studies on lavender benefits show that both inhaling its essential oil and taking lavender orally have been effective at treating mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety. The emotional and physical signs of stress were shown to be reduced, with calmness and relaxation increased when aromatherapy using lavender oil was implemented. When used as a stress reliever, lavender was found to reduce both blood pressure and heart rate.

Lavender’s Effects on Other Medical Conditions

Menstruation symptoms like pain have been shown in studies to be reduced by aromatherapy with lavender, as have menopause symptoms, including sleep difficulties.

Studies conducted regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are also showing promise as a way to improve the symptoms of these diseases.

Lavenders in a bottle next to a book.

Using Lavender in the Home

Among its many benefits as a way to treat the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, lavender can also be safely used in the home. A study was conducted in 2007 regarding the effects of lavender when used in the home for reducing crying and stress in young infants and enhancing their sleep. 5

Infants exposed to lavender oil in homemade lavender soap and other bath products were found to spend a lesser amount of time crying in the time following their bath and before going to sleep. In addition to this benefit for infants, mothers were also able to feel a higher degree of relaxation.

New to Lavender?

If you are considering bringing lavender sleep products or its other forms into your home, you’ll be happy to know that there are many ways to do so because, no matter where it is incorporated, lavender can benefit your life.

A very common and popular scent, lavender can be found in home products including dish, body and hand soaps, shampoos, hand creams, and much more. You can also add lavender to your laundry routine when you buy laundry soap with lavender oil in it or make your own laundry soap.

Lavender can also be used in your clothes dryer; you can create your own dryer sheets by cutting up a clean piece of cotton, simply adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the cotton pieces, and placing them in the dryer to infuse your clothing with its calming scent.

A few drops of lavender essential oil on a tissue can become a helpful sleep aid when placed under your pillow or on the collar or neckline of your pajamas.

Lavender and Cedar

A Lavender & Cedar soap bar from LELU Soap Lab

Now that you know the benefits of lavender when used on its own, it’s time to talk about the benefits of combining it with other essential oils. Lavender’s calming properties can be the perfect way to treat itching, soreness, and dryness in the skin.

This makes it an ideal partner for scents like cedar. Cedar contains numerous health-benefiting properties, including being antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and a killer of bacteria.

This is exactly why we at the LELU Soap Lab decided to create our Lavender & Cedar Soap. By combining these two powerful oils, you can receive all of the best lavender bar soap benefits mentioned above, along with the calming and skin-improving benefits of cedar.

In addition to two powerful oils, your skin will also benefit from the hydration offered by the sunflower, coconut, and extra virgin olive oil our soap contains, as well as its shea and cocoa butter.

At LELU Soap Lab, we specialize in the creation of all-natural soaps, bubble bars, and bath bombs that are not only healthy for your skin but benefit your overall health and wellbeing. To browse our selection of products, we invite you to visit us online or stop by the Thoughtful Creations Gift Shop in La Mesa, California on 8047 La Mesa Blvd or Local Niche UTC 4373 La Jolla Village Drive G10, San Diego California.

Sources:

  1. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/aromatherapy-can-lavender-aid-those-who-struggle-with-insomnia/91028/
  2. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/aromatherapy-can-lavender-aid-those-who-struggle-with-insomnia/91028/
  3. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/aromatherapy-can-lavender-aid-those-who-struggle-with-insomnia/91028/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19962288/
  5. http://67-20-110-78.unifiedlayer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Lavender_bath_oil_reduces_stress.pdf