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In Stress and Coping

What are the health benefits and risk of lavender?

Lavender is grown in northern Africa and the Mediterranean mountains, often for extraction of its essential oils.

The medicinal benefits of using lavender to treat anxiety, fungal infections, hair loss, and wounds have been demonstrated.

Evidence does not yet support the use of lavender to treat depressionhigh blood pressure, nausea, menstrual pain, or eczema, among other conditions.

Lavender is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and should not be taken in place of approved and prescribed medicines.

Benefits

Lavender oil is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to heal minor burns and bug bites.

Research suggests that it may be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness.

Some studies suggest that consuming lavender as a tea can help digestive issues such as vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas, upset stomach, and abdominal swelling.

In addition to helping with digestive problems, lavender is used to help relieve pain from headaches, sprains, toothaches, and sores. It can also be used to prevent hair loss.

Anxiety disorder and related conditions

review article in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice evaluates how effective Silexan might be for patients with different anxiety disorders. Silexan is a lavender-oil preparation available in 80-milligram (mg) gelatine capsules.

The team found that Silexan had an anxiolytic, or anxiety-reducing, effect on patients with generalized or subsyndromal anxiety within 2 weeks.

Researchers have also studied whether lavender might help to alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms.

Many women of reproductive age experience a range of symptoms in the premenstrual phase, commonly known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Even though PMS is common, no single treatment is universally recognized as effective. As a result, many women turn to alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy.

This crossover study involved 17 women, aged on average 20.6 years, with mild-to-moderate premenstrual symptoms. The participants spent one menstrual cycle with no lavender aromatherapy treatment, and another undergoing lavender aromatherapy.

The study concluded that lavender aromatherapy could alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms.

One study found that lavender fragrance could have a beneficial effect on insomnia and depression in female college students. However, the authors highlighted that “repeated studies are needed to confirm effective proportions of lavender oil and carrier oil for insomnia and depression.”

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved lavender for medicinal use. It is sold as a supplement only and should not replace any prescribed course of treatment.

If you choose to use this essential oil, the FDA does not monitor these products. There may be concerns about purity, safety, or quality. Only purchase essential oils from reputable companies.

Risks

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) revealed that repeated use of lavender oil on the skin might trigger prepubertal gynecomastia, a condition that causes enlarged breast tissue in boys before puberty.

The safety of taking lavender during pregnancy or while breast-feeding has also not been confirmed.

Discuss any use of essential oils, herbs, or supplements with your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

As lavender is thought to slow down the central nervous system, doctors advise patients to stop using lavender at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Source: Medical News Today

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