Why Lavender is Good for Your Health
“I put a drop of lavender essential oil on my pillow before I go to sleep.” – Melissa Joan Hart
I’ve always loved the scent of lavender. Although I can’t pinpoint when this began, I recall fields of wild lavender near my home when I was growing up and I took the shortcuts to get to school and the drugstore for candy and treats. The fact that we maintained a small garden adjacent the field probably had something to do with my attraction to the lavender. After all, it smelled wonderful and there were always hummingbirds flitting about, contributing to the peacefulness.
As it turns out, research proves that the scent of lavender has some surprising health benefits, as I’ve recently discovered. It’s relaxing, helps combat anxiety, and provides other pro-health benefits.
Lavender – It’s Been Around Since Ancient Egypt
The history of lavender is quite intriguing, not the least of which is the fact that the ancient Egyptians used lavender to mummify bodies prior to burial or interment in pyramids and other edifices. I’ve even read accounts that when the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen (King Tut) was discovered in 1922, there were alabaster jars for lavender oils present, although grave robbers had long before made off with the oils. Yet, the scent of lavender was reportedly still in the air. Could be only myth, but the fact remains that lavender has been prized by many cultures for uses in perfumes, ointments, Eastern medicines and incense.
Lavender Is Relaxing
Research published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience reveals the science behind a key health benefit of lavender: its ability to help you relax. Researchers at Kagoshima University in Kagoshima, Japan looked at linalool, a terpene alcohol in lavender extract, specifically to unlock its anxiety-reducing properties. Rates of anxiety disorders in Japan (estimated at 5.3 percent of Japanese adults) and the United States (18.2 percent of adults) point to a compelling reason for further study into effective therapies and tools to treat such disorders.
While researchers note that aromatic compounds derived from plant extracts have been used to treat anxiety in traditional medicine, and lavender, as an example, has been used in anxiety treatment, plus the fact that compounds such as linalool extracted from lavender have anxiety-reducing effects, no studies yet looked at the effects of the smell of lavender to reduce anxiety.