Lavender Essential Oil for Pain Relief

Lavender Essential Oil for Pain Relief

Lavender Essential Oil for Pain Relief: All-Natural BullRyder Body Balm™ Active Ingredient

Benefits: muscle pain relief, reduces inflammation, reduces pain from rheumatism, helps relieve hypertension, offers pain relief for muscle aches and strains, and reduces swelling (edema)

Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia
Method of Extraction: steam distilled
Parts Used: Flower Tops
Country of Origin: USA
Cultivation Method: Farmed / Organic

The most famous essential oil for pain relief and relaxation is lavender (Lavandula officinalis, L angustifolia, L vera.) Distilled from the flowering tops, the best lavender oil comes from Bulgaria, France, and England although it can be grown all over the world. Lavender has a long list of applications for skin because of its anti-inflammatory and cell regenerating properties. The lavender essential oil in our all-natural BullRyder Body Balm™ pain relief formula is also antimicrobial, anti-infectious and antiseptic, making it effective in the treatment of wounds and as a frontline defense against respiratory infection. It is tonic to the cardiovascular and systems and lowers blood pressure. Lavender is used for muscle spasm, sprain, strain, cramp, contracture and rheumatic pain. Additionally, the lavender essential oil in our all-natural BullRyder Body Balm™ pain relief formula is a sedative for the central nervous system and relieves headache, nervous tension, and insomnia and can also help balance mood swings. Because of lavender’s many therapeutic properties like pain relief, if one had to choose only one essential oil, many would choose lavender. In addition to all the above effects, it also takes the itch out of insect bites and helps heal sunburn.

Note: Lavender Essential Oil is but one component in our amazing all-natural BullRyder Body Balm™. Each of the active ingredients in our unique blend has exceptional pain relieving qualities alone but, in combination, the pain relieving qualities of each works synergistically with the others to produce an extraordinary pain relief salve whose unique formula was developed by Dr. Joie Power. The ten active ingredients in our all-natural BullRyder Body Balm™ include Essential Oils of: Balsam Poplar, Sweet Birch, Cajuput, Eucalyptus Globulus, Silver Fir, Helichrysum, Lavender and Plai plus St. John’s Wort Oil and Capsaicin.

by Joie Power, Ph.D.

LATIN NAME:  Lavandula angustifolia (aka L. Vera; L. officinalis)
FAMILY:  Labiatae

DESCRIPTION/HABITAT: True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is one member of a genus of 39 species of flowering plants of the mint family (Labiatae) that are considered “lavenders” and it is important not to confuse “true” lavender with other members of the Lavandula genus as their actions and properties are distinctly different. The Lavandula genus includes annuals, woody perennials and small shrubs. Lavandula angustifolia is a small, evergreen woody herb reported by most sources to be native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, tropical areas of Africa, southern India, and the area around modern day Iraq. Today, it is in medicinal use by indigenous people in Mexico, outside its region of origin, where it is mixed with the native Heimia salicifolia together with Tagetes lucida, and Rosmarinus officinalis as a bathing preparation used to aid women who are infertile (Ratsch, C., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants, Park Street Press, 1998, p. 267). It seems logical that the plant would have been introduced by invading Europeans who brought it with them.

PARTS USED:  The essential oil is distilled from the flower stalks and flowers. The best quality oil is distilled from just the flowers which are stripped from the stalks. In herbal medicine, the fresh or dried flowers are used in infusions, tinctures, or macerated oils. The fresh or dried flowers are also used in cooking and impart a delicious, distinctive flavor to cookies, sauces, and other dishes.

HARVESTING AND EXTRACTION: Flowers stalks are harvested in full bloom and during the hottest part of the day. The best oils come from flowers that are distilled immediately, with no drying or fermentation since fresh lavender yields more esters. The altitude of the distillery also influences the ester content due to the fact that water boils at a lower temperature at high altitudes and a lower distillation temperature captures and preserves esters.
An absolute and concrete of lavender are also produced by solvent extraction for use in perfumery but are not used in aromatherapy.

CHARACTERISTICS: Lavender oil is clear and colorless to pale yellow or yellowish green. It has a sweet, floral-herbaceous scent. Lavenders with noticeable camphor have a sharper, more penetrating smell. It feels slightly slick between the fingers and absorbs quickly. The taste is somewhat camphoraceous and sharp.

BLENDING: Lavender essential oil has wonderful aromatic properties and blends well with most other essential oils, especially citrus and floral oils. It can aid in blending some challenging aromas, such as patchouli, pine, and tea tree. It helps also to soften the impact of oils that may be too stimulating for some people, such as rosemary or eucalyptus.

ACTIVE CONSTITUENTS:  This is a complex essential oil with over 100 constituents including linalyl acetate, linalool, lavandulol, lavandulyl acetate, terpineol, cineol, limonene, ocimene, pinene, caryophyllene, linalyl butyrate, geranyl acetate, camphor, coumarin, etc. The essential oils of lavender with a high ester content and relatively low cineol and camphor are preferred; French lavenders grown above 2000 feet yield these profiles if properly distilled.

FREQUENTLY CITED THERAPEUTIC ACTIONS:  analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anticonvulsive, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, antitussive, calming/sedative, carminative, cholagogue, cicatrisant, cytophylactic, deodorant, diuretic, emmenagogue (mild), hypotensive, immune stimulant (leukocytosis), insecticide, nervine, stimulant (dose related), pulmonary antiseptic; sudorific, stomachic, sudorific, tonic (cardio and nervine), vulnerary, increases gastric secretions and peristalsis

FREQUENTLY CITED USES:  External: abscesses, abdominal cramps, acne, anxiety, athlete’s foot, arthritis, boils, bronchitis, bruises, burns, catarrh, cellulite, colds/flu, colic, dandruff, debility, depression, dermatitis/eczema, dysmenorrheal, flatulence, headache, hypertension, insect bites, insomnia, leucorrhoea (intra-vaginal use not recommended except with professional supervision), muscular aches and pain, neuralgia, psoriasis, rheumatism, scalds, scanty periods, scars, sinus congestion/infection, sores, spasmodic coughing, sprains, stress, sunburn, thread veins, toothache, minor wounds

Lavender essential oil is described as one of the most versatile essential oils and a wide range of therapeutic uses is reported. It is described as having outstanding cooling, soothing, and calming properties which make it useful in conditions involving inflammation, spasm, pain and restlessness. Lavender can be used alone but, like all essential oils, may be optimally effective when used in a blend.  NOTE: LAVENDER MUST BE USED IN THE APPROPRIATE DOSE TO ACHIEVE BEST RESULTS. 4 DROPS OR LESS PER APPLICATION PRODUCES A RELAXING, BALANCING EFFECT.  WHEN MORE THAN 4 DROPS ARE GIVEN IN A TWO HOUR PERIOD, LAVENDER MAY LOOSE ITS BALANCING AND CALMING EFFECT AND CAN BECOME TOO STIMULATING, LEADING TO RESTLESSNESS AND ANXIETY.

Lavender essential oil is credited with being a welcome component in remedies for colds/flu and other respiratory conditions because of its reported abilities to fight infection, support the immune system, ease muscle and joint aches, reduce inflammation, relax the mind and body, and quell restlessness. It is said to help the body to rest and heal and to overcome exhaustion. For colds and flu, it has been recommended to blend lavender with marjoram to help relieve body aches and with eucalyptus to fight infection and help clear the respiratory system. A mixture of lavender and tea tree oil put in the diffuser is said to help prevent the spread of infection. Inhalations of lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus and lemon may help clear the patient’s head and nose and fight infection in the whole respiratory system (make a mixture of 2 parts lavender essential oil to one part of any or all of the other ingredients and put 1 to 3 drops of this mixture into a bowl of steaming water; the aroma should be barely detectable; repeat as desired at 3 hour intervals). A “massage” oil made by blending 4 drops of lavender and 2 drops of marjoram in a tablespoon of carrier oil (such as grapeseed oil) and applied gently to the body, especially around the joints, may help to relieve the body pain and aches that can accompany colds and flu. Do not actually “massage” someone who has a cold, the flu, or other respiratory infection – just gently rub a little of the “massage” oil into the skin, either where there is pain or on the chest and throat, where the vapors will rise towards the face and be inhaled. If the patient is strong enough for a warm bath, 4 drops of lavender and 2 drops of marjoram can be mixed in a tablespoon of whole milk or honey and added to the bath water. Take care when bathing a person who is weak and debilitated – fainting can occur easily and without warning.  Lavender also blends well with Ravensara and this combination may be useful in cases of colds/flu and other respiratory infections.

Lavender has been described as having remarkable balancing effects on the central nervous system (provided it’s used in proper doses, as noted above) and as being an outstanding choice for people who are suffering from stress, tension, insomnia, nervous exhaustion and related depression. It is described as calming and soothing to the nervous system and the body-mind and its reputed tonic properties are believed to help overcome exhaustion and apathy. Lavender blended with Frankincense may help to overcome fatigue and nervous exhaustion. Its calming and sedative properties are said to be enhanced by combining it with other reportedly calming oils such as Roman chamomile, marjoram, and neroli. Citrus oils and other floral oils are believed to enhance its ability to uplift the spirit and combat depression. A beautiful blend for nervous exhaustion can be made with lavender, frankincense, and petitgrain.

Lavender essential oil is widely used for all kinds of muscular aches and pains and arthritis. It combines well for these purposes with German chamomile, Roman chamomile, cajuput, eucalyptus, and marjoram. For menstrual cramps and other pain caused by smooth muscle spasm (such as stomach cramps or gall bladder pain), try a combination of lavender, bergamot, Roman chamomile and a smaller amount of peppermint applied as a warm compress (put three drops of your mixture in a soup bowl of warm water, soak a clean rag in this, wring it out and apply it over the abdomen). When using essential oils in a warm (never hot) compress be sure to monitor for skin irritation, since heat increases the potential for this. Although some practitioners advise covering the compress with plastic wrap, I prefer to use a clean, dry towel. Or, blend a few drops of this mixture with a vegetable oil at proper dilutions and applied over the painful area.

A single drop of lavender rubbed on each temple or the base of the skull is often reported as being effective for relieving headaches, including migraines – some, but not all, people reportedly get better results from 1 drop of lavender combined with 1 drop of peppermint; this is one of the rare applications where essential oils are used undiluted.

SELECTED RESEARCH:  Note: Proper evaluation of research findings is a complex process which requires appropriate training in research design and methodology as well as statistics. Many variables may confound an investigation’s results and limit the applicability or generalization of results. In any field of research one will find conflicting results and one way in which scientists attempt to resolve and understand these conflicts is by evaluating the appropriateness of the project’s design and execution.  In the field of aromatherapy, one thing that has especially hampered attempts to reconcile conflicts in research findings is that investigators rarely specify the source of the essential oils used in their study and since the quality of essential oils varies greatly and has an enormous impact on the results achieved this is a significant problem. Another problem in determining the actions and efficacious uses of essential oils arises from the fact that a significant amount of what is described in references on aromatherapy has been taken either from tradition or research in the broader field of herbal medicine and is based on the actions and uses of other herbal preparations (such as teas, tinctures or whole herbs) of the plants in question. Also, many studies cited in the aromatherapy literature have been based on individual components (so-called “active constituents) isolated from whole essential oils. While these types of studies are not without merit, I have purposely chosen to limit this section to studies that have employed whole essential oils. This section is by no mean exhaustive.

Moss M, Cook J, et al, Aromas of Rosemary and Lavender Essential Oils Differentially Affect Cognition and Mood in Healthy Adults, International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 113, Issue 1, Jan. 2003, pp. 15-38: Results suggest that olfactory presentation of lavender essential oil decreased performance on cognitive tasks while rosemary oil produced mixed results (performance on some measures was enhanced compared to controls while on other measures it was degraded); the rosemary group was found to have greater alertness than the control or lavender groups, while both the lavender and rosemary groups reported better mood than controls. The authors conclude that the olfactory properties of essential oils can produce objective effects on cognitive performance and subjective effects on mood.

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 e.o. 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 assess 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.

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).

The above Lavender Monograph is an excerpt from full article posted on Dr. Power’s website: Highlands School of Natural Healing.

© 2007-2014 by Joie Power, Ph.D.  No portion of this work may be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission of the author.