Flower Power: Three Research-Backed Benefits of Lavender
Almost exactly one month from the date this blog is being uploaded, my man and I were supposed to be boarding a plane to France for our honeymoon. But like for the majority of us, COVID-19 meant a major change in plans.
Although we now have to wait a year and one month until we get to celebrate our marriage, that doesn’t mean we can’t daydream about the gorgeous French countryside.
Southern France, where Kristian and I planned on visiting this summer, is known for its vast fragrant fields of lavender. The use of lavender both as a perfume and ingredient in traditional foods has been documented for over 2500 years! But did you know researchers have been studying the health benefits of the flower for decades?
From improving some skin conditions and gastrointestinal problems, to boosting mood and mental health, lavender is a pretty amazing plant. So today, I want to share with you three research-backed benefits of lavender! (Trust me, you might as well add lavender oil to your shopping list right now!)
1. Sleep Like a Baby
As someone who’s struggled with insomnia in the past, I really appreciate a good study on improving sleep quality. In this meta-analysis looking at sleep quality among shift-work nurses, aromatherapy was shown to have a positive effect on reducing fatigue and improving sleep quality!
In another study, researchers tracked the sleeping patterns of over 30 men and women. Those who used lavender aromatherapy before bed, showed increased slow-wave sleep. They reported sleeping more soundly and waking feeling more energized after diffusing the lavender oil the night before.
So, if you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, and have yet to try diffusing lavender oil, I highly recommend giving it a go! When my insomnia was at its worst, I must admit I assumed everything I heard about spraying lavender essential oil onto your pillow was an old wives tale. Now it’s my go to! Aside from Epsom salt baths, nothing makes me feel calmer and more relaxed before bed than a little spritz of lavender in my bedroom. And for more tips on improving sleep quality naturally, you can check out my other blog post here!
2. Beat the Sunday Scaries
A low-grade anxiety all Sunday afternoon and evening can really harsh your mellow on the weekends, am I right? I don’t know about you, but my anxiety levels in general have been a lot higher the past few months, for obvious reasons.
So if you’ve been experiencing more stress and anxiety lately, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Aside from some stress minimizing techniques like meditation, journaling, grounding, etc., lavender has also been shown to be an effective anxiety reduction tool. In one study on breast cancer patients’ pre-surgery anxiety levels, inhaling lavender essential oil was shown to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety. In another study on elderly people, anxiety levels were shown to be reduced with consumption of herbal tea.
So even if you don’t fit into these demographics, I believe lavender can be an effective tool to use in addition to other stress-minimizing techniques to significantly reduce anxiety levels. Lavender is amazingly versatile, too! Not only can it be diffused, but it can be consumed in tea form and used in everything from a spice for baking potatoes and veggies (put herbes de Provence on your shopping list too, and thank me later), to giving shortbread cookies a subtle floral aroma.
3. Work More Effectively
Whether or not you’re still working from home, you’ll definitely benefit from diffusing lavender during work hours. Several studies (which you can read here and here) have shown that participants that diffused lavender for three months reported an improved work environment. Even more impressive was the fact that error rate was decreased on mathematical and letter counting tests!
So as things return to normal and many of us go back to the office, it’s going to be an adjustment for sure. Why not get yourself a small diffuser for your workspace to enjoy the cognitive benefits of lavender? With it’s anxiety reducing benefits, it’s definitely a win-win.
So, have I sold you on lavender yet? I’ve really become obsessed with the stuff—I’m diffusing it right now! Let me know in the comments below if you are a fan of lavender or if there are any other essential oils you’ve noticed benefits from using. Also, if you’ve smelled the lavender fields of southern France (or anywhere else—apparently there are some lavender farms in Ontario?!) for yourself, please tell me about your trip in the comments below so I can live vicariously through you!