Buchbauer G, Jirovetz L, et al, “Aromatherapy: evidence for the sedative effects of the essential oil of lavender after inhalation”, Naturforsch C. 1991, Nov-Dec; 46 (11-12): pp 1067 – 72. Inhalation of lavender essential oil was found to reduce caffeine-induced hyperactivity in mice to near-normal motility. The reduction showed a correlation with serum linalool levels and the authors conclude that the study provides support for the aromatherapeutic use of herbal pillows to facilitate falling asleep and to reduce stress.
Saeki Y, “The effect of foot-bath with or without essential oil of lavender on the autonomic nervous system: a randomized trial”, Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, 2000, Vol. 8, Issue 1, pp. 2-7. Subjects sat with their feet soaking in hot water, with or without lavender essential oil, for ten minutes during which electrocardiogram, finger-tip blood flow and respiration were recorded; autonomic function was evaluated using spectral analysis of heart rate variability. The foot baths caused no changes in heart rate or respiratory rate but produced a significant increase in blood flow. On spectral analysis, the parasympathetic activity increased significantly during both types of foot-bath. In the lavender foot-bath, there were delayed changes to the balance of autonomic activity in the direction associated with relaxation.
Soden K, Vincent K, et al, “A randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting”, Palliative Medicine, 2004, Vol. 18, No. 2, 87-92. Forty-two patients were randomly assigned to receive massage with or without lavender essential oil added to the inert massage base. Outcome measures include a Visual Analog Scale of pain intensity, a sleep scale, an anxiety and depression scale, and symptom checklist. No significant long-term effects were found for lavender essential oil in terms of improving pain control, anxiety or quality of life. Sleep scores improved in both groups and depression scores improved in the massage-only groups. The authors conclude that lavender essential oil did not increase the beneficial effects of massage.
Bardeau F., “Utillisation d’HE aromatiques pour purifier et desodoriser l’air (Use of essential aromatic oils to purify and deodorize the air”, Le Chirurgien-dentiste de France, 1976, Sept 29; 46 (319): 53 Vaporized essential oils and their capacity to destroy bacteria such as Proteus, Staph. Aureus, Strep. Pyrogenes and others were examined. Oils which were found to be the most effective in destroying air borne bacteria included clove, lavender, lemon, marjoram, mint, niaouli, pine, rosemary, and thyme.
Piccaglia R, Deans S G, et al, “Biological activity of essential oils from lavender, sage, winter savory, and thyme of Italian origin”, 1993 Programme Abstracts 24th International Symposium on Essential Oils. The oils were tested for antimicrobial activity against 25 species including food poisoning types and human disease pathogens. All oils showed good activity against the majority of the bacteria. Lavender was most effective against Clostridium sporogenes.
Imberger I, Rupp J, et al, “Effect of Essential Oils on Human Attentional Processes” 1993 Programme Abstracts 24th International Symposium on Essential Oils, The authors investigated the effects of inhaled jasmine and lavender on human attentional processes. The excitatory effects of jasmine and sedative effects of lavender were clearly indicated in the results of vigilance tests. No effects were demonstrated regarding alertness as measured by reaction time.
Dale A, Cornwall S, “The role of lavender oil in relieving perineal discomfort following childbirth: a blind randomized clinical trial”, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 1994, 19:89-96. 635 women participated in a clinical trial to asses the possible benefits of adding lavender oil to daily bath water for the first 10 days following childbirth. Subjects were assigned to one of 3 groups: one in which 6 drops of lavender essential oil was added, one with the addition of an inert aromatic substance, and one with synthetic lavender oil. Analysis of daily discomfort scores showed no significant differences between the groups. The authors concluded that lavender essential oil was not effective in this application.
SAFETY DATA: Lavender essential oil is generally considered non-toxic, non-irritant, and non-sensitizing in normal doses. However, at least one author has reported that it can cause dermatitis (J.A. Duke, 1985, cited in Aromatherapy for Health Professionals by Shirley and Len Price, 2nd Edition, 1999). Also, as with most essential oils, the potential for skin irritation increases as the product oxidizes with age.
An article in the Feb1, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reported one researcher’s concern that products containing lavender and/or tea tree essential oils may have been responsible for abnormal breast development in three pre-pubertal boys. Each of these boys had used a product, such as a soap or hair product, containing one or both of these essential oils and the author hypothesized that since these oils have a weak hormonal effect in vitro, they could have caused the abnormal growth in the boys. This article received a lot of press and has raised concerns for some about the use of these oils, despite the fact that the study was poorly designed and not well controlled. The Aromatherapy Trade Council (Great Britain) has published a critique of the study and dismisses the conclusions of the original article as unfounded. My review of both articles suggests that the study was poorly designed and I feel that it’s unlikely that the abnormal breast growth was caused by either lavender or tea tree oil. However, I would like to see further, better designed research on this issue.
COMMENTS: Lavender is relaxing at low doses (4 drops or less) but stimulating at higher doses. Also, when using it as an anti-inflammatory, use low concentrations (less than 1%) as in higher concentrations it may over-stimulate circulation. For muscular complaints use concentrations of 2 to 4%.
Gabriel Mojay calls it an “aromatic Rescue Remedy” because it acts to calm any strong emotion that threatens to overwhelm the Mind (Gabriel Mojay, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, 1997).
*This information is provided for educational interest and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
Copyright © 2010 Joie Power, Ph.D. / The Aromatherapy School | All Rights Reserved