Lavender essential oil: Health benefits and Side effects

Table of Contents

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

Introduction and geological distribution

Lavender of genus Lavandula belongs to Lamiaceae family. Lavandula includes 25–30 species of flowering plants distributed mainly in Mediterranean sea, Southern Europe through northern and eastern Africa and Middle Eastern countries to southwest Asia and southeast India and in the archipelagoes of the Atlantic Ocean (1). 

How Lavender essential oil is produced?

Lavender essential oil is produced, usually by steam distillation, from both the flower heads and foliage. For centuries, this oil is used both cosmetically and therapeutically. 

Common Lavender plants from which essential oil is extracted

Lavender angustifolia (English Lavender), Lavender latifolia (Mediterranean grass-like lavender), Lavender stoechas (French lavender) and Lavender intermedia (a sterile cross between L. latifolia and L. angustifolia). 

Medicinal properties of Lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil is approved for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and stress by international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) (2).

It is traditionally used for the treatment of colds, digestion, flatulence, upset stomach, liver, gallbladder problems, antibacterial, antifungal, carminative (smooth muscle relaxing), sedative, anti-depressive and effective for burns and insect bite (3).

Main constituents of Lavender essential oil

The main constituents of lavender oil are linalyl acetate, linalool, lavandulol, 1,8-cineole, lavandulyl acetate, and camphor (4). 

Health benefits of Lavender essential oil

1. Linalool and linalyl acetate of Lavender essential oil treats anxiety

Anxiolytic agents like linalool and linalyl acetate of Lavender oil posses calming effect without sedation (5).

Silexan (lavender oil capsule) possess no sedative effects and is beneficial for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (6). Lavender essential oil is also useful for the treatment of anxiety in postmenopausal women and reduces the level of anxiety in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery (7).

2. Treat perineal trauma in women after childbirth

Lavender essential oil is safe and effective which provides a degree of comfort for women suffering from the effects of perineal trauma during the postnatal period by rapidly healing and relieve the discomfort associated with localized edema (8).

3. Anti-inflammatory properties of Lavender oil

Lavender essential oil 75 and 100 mg/kg and 250 mg/kg inhibit edema (swelling) formation by reduction of myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and nitric oxide (NO) production (9). Moreover, lavender essential oil influences the macrophage response to a bacterium known as Staphylococcus aureus infection and may be useful as an anti-inflammatory and immune regulatory coadjutant drug (10).

4. Antifungal properties of Lavender essential oil

Monoterpenes, with carvacrol and cis-β-ocimene are the key ingredient present in Lavender which is effective against dermatophytes. Therefore Lavender essential oil is used against Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans by cytoplasmic membrane disruption and cell death (11).

5. Lavender essential oil (100 mg/kg) improves Cognitive performance

Linalool (100 mg/kg) in Lavender significantly protected the cognitive impairments and helpful for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (12).

6. Stressbuster Lavender essential oil 

It possesses the ability to improve several neurological disorders such as stress which is a major health problem nowadays. Lavender essential oil increase antioxidant enzyme activities and decrease plasma corticosterone and lipid peroxidation thus act as a natural compound which is beneficial for the attenuation of stress-induced changes in the body (13).

7. Mood elevator Lavender essential oil

Inhalation of Lavender oil decreases blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature and the person feel more active, fresher relaxed thus increased brain activities than other oil inhalation (14).  Furthermore, lavender oil inhalation reduces depression-like behavior, neuroplasticity, and neurogenesis (15).

8. Good for mother and babies

Lavender essential oil provides a soothing influence on babies because mothers are more relaxing and touching during bath time, decrease cortisol levels of mothers and infants and babies cried less and slept better (16).

Furthermore, lavender oil aromatherapy improves the quality of sleep in postpartum women and suggested as a non-pharmacological method for the improvement of maternal health (17).

9. Antimicrobial properties of Lavender essential oil due to monoterpenes

Linalool and linalool oxide which exhibit antimicrobial and antioxidant activity against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter bohemicus, Salmonella enteritidis, Salmonella typhimurium, Salmonella pullorum, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Kocuria marina (18). It also improves the bacterial flora in the gastrointestinal tract, thereby increasing the production of digestive enzymes and improving digestion quality (19).

10. Good for skin

Lavender essential oil may be useful as an important facial acupuncture kit because it possesses analgesic effect which enhances cellular regeneration thus heal scar tissue, burns, acne, bug bites, jellyfish stings and calms wind and heat in the head. 

Moreover, a few drops of lavender in a spray of distilled water are effective against hot flashes and red faces result from exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones or computers (20).

11. Lavender essential oil treats headache and migraine

A research study suggested that peppermint and lavender oil drops in water bath reduce neck pain and nausea thus lavender oil may be useful for the reduction of migraine frequency and intensity (21). Furthermore, this oil is also useful for the reduction of chronic low back pain as well as improves walking time and greater lateral spine flexion (22).

12. Safe during pregnancy

Lavender essential oil warm bath (5 to 7 drops per tub of water) for 20 minutes each night or in aromatherapy diffuser placed near the bed prior to sleep are very helpful to promote sleep, relieve anxiety and safe during pregnancy (23).

13. Linalyl acetate and linalool of Lavender oil Reduce Fatigue

Relaxant and sedative properties of linalyl acetate and linalool is beneficial for reduction of fatigue and pain level in hemodialysis patients and improve sleep quality without any side effects (24).

14. Anti-allergic properties of Lavender oil

Lavender essential oil prevents the entry of chemical compound in the cell. Therefore, lavender oil possesses the ability to inhibit mast cell-mediated immediate-type allergic reactions (25). 

15. Treat ulcer

Lavender essential oil reduces inflammation level, ulcer size, healing time and pain relief than other antibiotics and increased rate of mucosal repair within 3 days of treatment (26).

16. Treat neuropathic pain

Lavender essential oil acts as an anti neuropathic agent which reduces nerve injury, pain intensity in mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome thus can be used for the management of neuropathic pain conditions (27).

17. Lavender essential oil acts as a sleep inducer

The researcher discovered that massage and aromatherapy with lavender essential oil improve sleep quality and treat insomnia in cardiac patients (28).

18. Lavender essential oil (10 mg/Kg) exerts cardioprotective effects

The anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenging and antioxidant properties of Lavender essential oil help in the protection of the heart.

It normalizes ECG, improves the hemodynamic impairment, decreases lipid peroxidation, suppresses proinflammatory responses, and improve antioxidant systems by maintained the structure and architecture of cardiac cells by decreasing cardiac tissue damage and strengthening myocardial membrane thus protect from myocardial infarction (29).

19. Anti-cancer properties of Lavender oil 

It acts as an antimutagenic agent which probably protects against mutation by blocking the DNA-damaging mutagen which further prevents cancer formation (30). 

20. Wound healing properties of Lavender oil 

Lavender oil helps in accelerating the formation of granulation tissue, promoting collagen synthesis and differentiation of fibroblasts through up-regulation of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) (31).

21. Protect the kidney and liver

Lavender essential oil restores antioxidant activities, reduces lipid peroxidation and damage to peritubular capillaries. Thus contributes to the preservation of normal morphology of renal and liver cells.

It also helps in protecting from renal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury during kidney transplantation thus decrease the rates of rejection in kidney transplant patients (32).

22. Protect from reproductive damage

Lavender essential oil reduces the process of lipid peroxidation and antioxidant enzyme depletion. Thus protects against steroidogenesis disruption thus protect from malathion-induce reproductive damage (33).

23. Treat diabetes

The Lavender essential oil contains bioactive compounds and antioxidant properties which significantly protect against the increase of blood glucose as well as the decrease of antioxidant enzyme activities and oxidative stress (34).

24. Bug Repellent or eco-friendly bio-control spray Lavender oil

The Lavender essential oil can be used as a biocontrol agent which protect against myiasis-inducing blowfly and cattle tick called Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus (35). 

Thus lavender essential oil is a useful, eco-and animal welfare-friendly alternative options to synthetic pesticides and surgical procedures to control flystrike and cattle fever tick (36).

25. Promote hair growth

Application of Lavender essential oil may increase the number of hair follicles, deepened hair follicle depth, and thickened dermal layer thus hair grew thicker and faster than normal (37).

Side effects of Lavender essential oil

Generally, the Lavender essential oil is found to be nontoxic by the skin irritation test (38). However, some risk should not neglect this oil is as follows

1. Allergy

Lavender oil is a rich source of terpenes linalool, linalyl acetate, and caryophyllene which sometimes auto oxidize when exposed to air, form sensitize hydroperoxides known by moderate allergen which cause skin irritation

Thus topical use of lavender in perfumes, cosmetics, and cleaning products should be done with caution (38).

Furthermore showed many allergies simultaneously by multiple perfumes; both of them were allergic to fragrance mix. Therefore, the patient who is allergic to perfumes to avoid “natural” products false belief advised (39).

2. Risk of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD)

The person who is employed as aroma and massage therapists of lavender oil is an uncommon cause ACD in hand. Therefore if you have a risk of sensitization in history, precaution should be needed before handing lavender oil exposure through the use of personal care items and essential oils (40).

How to use lavender essential oil?

Use and application mainly depend upon the treatment or purpose of a person. Studies suggest the topical application or oral administration in an undiluted form.

Linalool and Linalyl acetate are the main active compounds in Lavender oil therefore direct application on the skin should be done in a highly diluted form. It is advisable that the cytotoxicity should be determined before application (41 & 42).

It is also used as a tea or tincture, or the essential oil indirectly inhaled through a diffuser, in a bath, via application to a pillow on which the patient will sleep, or diluted for use in massage oil thus extensive application in perfumery, soaps, flavorings, colognes, skin lotions, and other cosmetic industries.

Where to buy lavender oil?

Due to various applications and popularity of lavender essential oil in aromatherapy and beauty products are sold in a beauty store, drug store,  health food stores, supermarkets, home decorating stores and online Walmart.

References

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  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4443384/
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  37. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843973/
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  41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30779160
  42.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15144499

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