Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), the lovely and dainty purple plant that is a part of the mint family and the most widely and cultivated essential oil in the world, is a plant worth remembering. Although our own scientific community is slow to research all of the benefits of essential oils, there is still enough scientific data out there to indicate the power behind this plant.
With more than 100 constituents found in lavender, it is no wonder that the potential healing nature is complex and wide. We can often get lost in determining exactly what the oil is used for and how it can benefit us. In the world of natural lotions and skin care products, lavender essential oil is often found as one of the primary ingredients, and for good reason. As it relates to skin, both scientific research and first-hand accounts of treatment with the oil indicate the effectiveness of this plant in aiding the healing process, helping to alleviate inflammation, and lessen pain.
The most interesting modern account of the use of lavender for healing the skin is that of Rene Gattefosse’s, the French chemist and scholar. In an accident in his lab in 1910, he severely burned both of his hands and other parts of his body. His account in the book Aromatherapy (translated into English in 1993) describes his use of lavender to treat the burn and infection:
“The external application of small quantities of essences rapidly stops the spread of gangrenous sores. In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped “the gasification of the tissue”. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day (July 1910)”
He went on to become the first modern-day promoter of essential oils for healing and gained recognition after treating WWII soldiers with this therapy. His story is intriguing and his book highly recommended to anyone interested in exploring the benefits of essential oils.
For those who would prefer a more scientific approach to understanding the benefits of lavender, there is a gain in research taking place in the United States and other countries, though it still seems to be slow-moving for such a technically-minded world. The lack of funding is my guess for the delay in research, for we all know that the powers in place would prefer we remain ignorant of simple, inexpensive cures to our ills. But that’s another article, another day.
A study conducted at the Manisa Health Sciences College and published by Hindawi Publishing Company on lavender, found that “due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties, it is thought to prevent wound infections and to play a role in reducing pain by lowering inflammation.” To have this in print in a scientific journal is promising and encouraging to those who have been using lavender for such purposes.
In the search for more natural and less invasive healing treatments, essential oils have been at the forefront of alternative and natural medicine for the latter part of the twentieth century and steadily gaining an increase in use in the 21st century. That is not to say that they haven’t been around and used in healing for thousands of years. But as our modern society prefers an obsessive desire for empirical information, we are just now beginning to discover the science behind the furor. In spite of little recognition or acceptance by the allopathic community, essential oils are speaking for themselves.
For those interested in doing additional research on the benefits of essential oils, an interesting number of professionally written articles can be found for exploring their qualities and effectiveness. For a site that includes extensive reference articles, visit Aromaticscience.com.
Axe, Josh. “7 Lavender Benefits for Healing.” Food Is Medicine. Draxe.com, draxe.com, draxe.com/lavender-oil-benefits/. Accessed 11 May 2017.
Aldrich, Sigma. “Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) | Plant Profiler.” Sigma-Aldrich. Millapore Sigma, 2010. Web. 11 May 2017, sigmaaldrich.com/life-science/nutrition-research/learning-center/plant-profiler/lavandula-angustifolia.html.
Tisserand, Robert. “Gattefosse’s Burn.” RobertTisserand, Robert Tisserand, 27 Apr. 2011, roberttisserand.com/2011/04/gattefosses-burn/. Accessed 11 May 2017.
Koulivand, Peir Hossein, et al. “Lavender and the Nervous System.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, no. 681304, Oct. 2013. Pubmed, dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/681304. Accessed 11 May 2017.