Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lavender Research

I've always known that Lavender angustifolia was's one of the most useful "sleep inducing" essential oils. But recent literature shows it's use for dealing with stress and anxiety.

A recent issue of the Intl Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy cites a study in which Lavender essential oil baths were studied to see their effects on stress and anxiety.

Two groups were studied, each committing to taking a warm water bath daily at approximately the same time for 14 days. One group used grapeseed oil in their bath, the other used a blend of lavender and grapeseed oil.

Prior to testing, all individuals were scored on tests for "Life Satisfaction", Perceived Stress, and both State Anxiety and Trait Anxiety. (State Anxiety results from current situations that are stressful, Trait Anxiety tends to indicate a longer term Anxiety, perhaps being prone to anxiety, rather than an immediate reaction to an anxiety producing situation.)

After the two week test period, results showed that both types of baths gave lower Perceived Stress scores. However, it appears that the lavender group started out with higher Perceived Stress Levels, and finished the study with lower other words, the level of percieved stress dropped more dramatically with the use of Lavender.

State anxiety, also was lower for both groups, but the State Anxiety level was significantly lower for those who had participated in the Lavender baths.

Study results indicate that the use of Lavender baths is a viable treatment for mild stress and anxiety, and may be a useful adjunct to other therapies in dealing with severe cases.

At the very least it offers us a relatively inexpensive and reliable method of self care!

Another Study - the one we funded for the American Holistic Nurses Association, last year involved testing the use of Lavender and/or Rosemary essential oils to reduce test taking anxiety and stress in graduate nursing students.

From the data gathered during this study, the researcher concluded that both lavender and rosemary have some effect on test anxiety in graduate nursing students. What I found most fascinating (but not surprising!) was the focus group interviews after the study.

The general consensus among focus group participants was that the lavender was pleasant however; some felt it relaxed them too much and they were less able to concentrate on the test material and were less able to “dredge up” the correct answers. Another group actually felt that the lavender caused them agitation because they were fighting to be alert and the lavender was fighting to relax them. All of the focus group participants liked the rosemary and said that it was a very warm earthy aroma that increased their ability to “dredge up” the answer to the
questions on the test from their memory. They stated that the rosemary seemed to clear their heads and make things clearer where the lavender made things more relaxed and even fuzzy.

To my this result seems totally predictable. Of course the lavender would relax the students, and allay anxiety. But it's almost sedating action is bound to interfere with the mental concentration needed to perform well on an exam. Rosemary, on the other hand, is known for intensifying mental clarity and focus. Shakespeare even said "Rosemary for Remembrance."

For whatever it is worth, the researcher did not mention the species of oils used in the second research paper. The Lavender used was Lavendula angustifolia, var Mailette and Rosmarinus officianalis ch Cineole. (IE our Lavender Mailette and Rosemary Cineole, both organic from France.)

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