It’s time to come clean, I have an addiction…to lavender in lotion.
Lavender – Not Just Another Pretty Flower
Lavender is more than just another pretty flower, it has chemical properties that when converted to an essential oil have been proven to decrease pain and improve sleep, and many people will tell you that it also helps with anxiety and reduces stress. Lavender in lotion is the perfect medium to surround yourself in aromatherapy and reap the benefits of this magical flower.
A Lasting Love Affair – Pass the Bottle Please!
My love affair with lavender started when I was in nursing school. It was difficult time in my life. I lost my job, finances were tight, I decided to switch careers, and chose nursing school…in my 50’s. It was a three year long journey, I was surrounded by younger people who were faster, sharper, and more likely to succeed than I was. However, failure was not an option.
So there I was, struggling with the stress of being the oldest student in the class and it was test taking time. I had read that lavender essential oil could help with stress so I bought a little bottle of Spike Lavender Essential Oil (medicinal strength) and carried it in my pocket. I put the bottle up to my nose and breathed in several slow, deep breaths right before a test. I didn’t care if it really worked or it was a placebo effect, I just knew I felt calmer.
I’ll never forget the day my classmate asked if he could have a whiff, too! Before you know it my little bottle was being passed around the room right before every test – true story – everybody wanted a hit! LOL! To this day, I still have a bottle of lavender essential oil in my work bag to pull out and leave open on my desk for really stressful days. Luckily the stress level has decreased quite a bit since I was in nursing school and ran the hospital floors (I still can’t believe I survived it all), but I wouldn’t be without it.
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Study After Study – It’s All Good!
Besides my personal experience, why should you consider using lavender essential oil or looking for lavender in lotion? Research has shown lavender has true positive effects that can literally minimize stress and anxiety, improve quality of sleep, decrease hormonal flushing, and reduce pain.
Here are examples of the studies I found on PubMed as evidence of these claims:
- A study of 53 nurses was done to determine the effects of pinning a bottle of lavender oil to their clothes while working, and it was determined that those who had the lavender oil showed a significant decrease in stress symptoms compared to the control group with no lavender oil.
- A study was done with college students to test the effects of lavender oil and sleep quality. The results showed that the length of sleep time did not improve between the students using lavender oil and the control group who simply practiced good sleep hygiene without using lavender. However, those who wore lavender oil on a patch over 5 nights of sleep reported better quality of sleep stating that they woke feeling more refreshed.
- Another clinical trial showed that the inhalation of lavender significantly reduced the symptoms of dysmenorrhea (pain during your menstrual cycle) in a study done with 96 college females.
- A study using lavender aromatherapy to test the effects of flushing on 100 menopausal women showed a significant decrease in flushing compared to the control group, thereby, impacting their quality of life using a safe, noninvasive method.
- A study using lavender aromatherapy on dialysis patients showed a significant decrease in pain and anxiety during their treatments compared to the group without the use of lavender.
All of these studies have one thing in common – the inhalation of lavender oil – or better known as aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy – The Nice Smell That Makes You Feel Swell
How does aromatherapy work? How is it possible that something you smell affects you physically and/or emotionally? It works like this…every time you inhale scented oil, some of the molecules from the oil enter your nasal cavity and are transported into the olfactory system of your brain.
These molecules stimulate the olfactory receptors, which carry the signals to certain cells in the olfactory bulb (mitral cells), the part of your brain that allows you to identify/smell the specific scent. Some of these same mitral cells send signals to other nearby parts of your brain, the limbic system, which process emotions and memories. That’s why certain smells bring back certain memories!
What I am trying to say is that aromatherapy, specifically lavender, can have positive effects on how you feel. Is it guaranteed? No. Can it cure anything? No. As a matter of fact, some experts will tell you that there has not been enough research to prove the physiological effects of essential oils (though I have read a study that proves otherwise). But these same experts are willing to admit that even if it is the placebo effect (a good whiff of lavender oil before taking a test in nursing school), if you believe it works, then it probably will.
Okay, for all the skeptics out there, how about we go with: “it smells good, therefore I like it, therefore, it makes me feel good when I use it.” Works for me.
Experimenting With Lavender – Start Your Own Addiction
So let’s say you are interested in surrounding yourself with the smell of lavender to do your own mini clinical trial. How can you proceed with your experiment?
Certainly you can carry around a bottle of lavender essential oil (I recommend the strong, medicinal stuff). But it would also be just as easy (if not easier) to apply lotion to your skin, mainly because lavender is found in so many lotions available today. I keep a tube of lavender lotion at work and one on my bedside table at home whenever I need a moment to de-stress or calm the senses.
Either way, I’d encourage you to give it a try, especially if you are looking for a natural, noninvasive way to decrease feelings of stress or anxiety. If you’d like to check out a lavender lotion I would recommend, click here.
Tell me what you think, does lavender have the same effect on you?