Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic, Grade A essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been AFNOR and ISO standardized. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness.

Essential Oils and Health Highlights

By Sarah LoBisco, ND

Botanical Family: Lavender belongs to the Labiatae (mint) family

Background information:

Known as the “universal oil”, lavender is probably the most well-known essential oils in modern times. Many people are familiar with its calming and relaxing fragrance. However, few people in the United States are aware that lavender is a powerful therapeutic oil which contains over 300 medicinal constituents, if properly distilled.

In 1910, Dr. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist, discovered lavender’s skin regenerating properties during a laboratory accident. When his severely burned arm healed without a scar, Dr. Gattefosse began studying the constituents of essentials oils and instigated the re-dissemination of modern day medical aromartherapy knowledge. Due to, his lab discovery, lavender is still listed in the British Pharmacopoeia for its healing properties.

Chemistry:

Alcohols (up to 58%)- can inhibit microbial growth. They help increase blood circulation. Linalol, one of the highest components in lavender, it can help relax muscles and calm the mind and body.

Esters (approx. 50%)-tend to be the most calming, relaxing, and balancing constituents of essential oils. They can inhibit fungal growth and balance the nervous system.

Monoterpenes (up to 24%)- tend to inhibit toxin accumulation in cells and dispel existing toxins from the body. They are generally stimulating and soothing to irritated tissues.

Sesquiterpenes-can also inhibit microbial growth, support healthy blood pressure, and can calm the body.  They are soothing to skin and work to stimulate glands. They have been found to increase oxygenation around the pineal and pituitary gland through their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Phenolsmake for an unfriendly environment for microbial growth. They contain high levels of oxygenating molecules and are strong antioxidants.

Aldehydes– are commonly responsible for the fragrance of an oil. They tend to inhibit microbes from thriving, support immune modulation, calming to the nervous system, fever-reducing and general tonics.

Oxides- are respiratory supporting and are mildly stimulating.

Coumarins-present in small amounts in lavender, help regulate blood flow.

Ketonesstimulate cell health and liquefy mucous.

In listing all the constituents of an essential oil, my purpose is to portray the synergism of the whole plant oil. These therapeutic oils truly do have all the necessary ingredients to balance whatever is needed in the body. For example, if a person has respiratory challenges, the ketones, alcohols and phenols will exert the most powerful effect at that time for that individual. If one needs cardiovascular support, the sesquiterpenes and calming esters will override the stimulating phenols and oxides to calm the system.

This is why I tell my patients, the oils have “a mind of their own,” they will do what your body needs them to do.

Indications:

There are too many to list! With it’s wide array of constituents, this gentle oil is safe for everyone and is known to balance the body and work wherever there is need. There is a famous catch phrase in aromatherapy, “when in doubt, use lavender!”

I have had great success in my practice using lavender for hormonal issues, skin problems, sleep disturbances, “nervous stomach” and restlessness. It is also useful for students going back to school, as it increases oxygen to the brain and helps with studying!

References:

1. Essential Oils Desk Reference 4th ed. ESP

2. Essential Oils Integrative Medical Guide. Young, Gary

3. Reference Guide for Essential Oils. Hiley, C & A.

Additional Properties of Lavender in peer-reviewed journals:

4. Pemberton E, Turpin PG. The effect of essential oils on work-related stress in intensive care unit nurses. Holist Nurs Pract. 2008 Mar-Apr;22(2):97-102. PMID: 18317288

5. Field T, Field T, Cullen C, Largie S, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. Lavender bath oil reduces stress and crying and enhances sleep in very young infants. Early Hum Dev. 2008 Jun;84(6):399-401. Epub 2007 Nov 28. PMID: 18053656

6. Kim JT, Ren CJ, Fielding GA, Pitti A, Kasumi T, Wajda M, Lebovits A, Bekker A. Treatment with lavender aromatherapy in the post-anesthesia care unit reduces opioid requirements of morbidly obese patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Obes Surg. 2007 Jul;17(7):920-5. PMID: 17894152

7. Woollard AC, Tatham KC, Barker S. The influence of essential oils on the process of wound healing: a review of the current evidence. J Wound Care. 2007 Jun;16(6):255-7. Review. PMID: 17722522