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Monday, May 9, 2011

Essential Oils during the childbearing years-Lavender oil

Lavender Oil

More and more research is coming out on the ability of lavender oil to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and agitation.  In some studies, about 2 drops of lavender oil has been shown to be as effective as lorazapam, a common anti-anxiety drug.  If you look at the list of side effects from lorazapam, you can see why finding something different might be useful.

During labor, one study showed that lavender oil did not decrease the pain, but those who used it described more satisfaction with their pain control.  This may have to do with the ability of lavender oil to decrease anxiety levels.

Lavender oil can be used to help with anxiety or agitation before labor as well as during labor.  It might also help to promote sleep(agian related to it's ability to decrease anxiety).  To apply lavender at this time you can either use a diffuser, apply 2 drops on the soles of the foot(repeat about every 20m until symptoms pass), or put 5-7 drops of oil in a bathtub.

It also has been studied in the use of episiotomies.  In one small study 25 out of 60 women who used lavender oil reported no pain 10 days postpartum, versus 17 out of 60 who used providine-iodine.  Redness and inflammation were less in the group who used lavender oil which may suggest that it helped heal better.  Lavender oil can be used in a sitz bath, and it would also have the added benefit of decreasing anxiety in the new mother, which iodine does not.  Iodine has also been questioned as to it's actual ability to heal wounds.  Lavender oil is also an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.  Again, something that would be useful for wound healing.  It also has some use in relieving minor pains and discomforts.  To use in a sitz bath, use 5-7 drops of lavender oil in 4 L of water twice a day.

Some other uses for lavender(not researched based)
Stretch marks-apply oil three times a day and it helps to lighten the stretch marks.
Helping to calm a fussy baby.
Nipple soreness.

The major side effect of lavender oil is irritation to the skin or allergic reactions.  One way to decrease this is to keep the lavender oil in a sealed bottle when not in use and expose it to the air as little as possible.

Another important thing to note about lavender oil is that tends to act like estrogen.  Not a lot of research has been done to show what the effects of this may be, but there have been case studies that have linked the use of lavender oil and tea tree oil to prepubertal gynecomastia .  Not much is known, but I would bet that they used excessive levels on a daily basis.  



Gillian Godjas said...

Just to add to your comments, I make a massage oil for mums-to-be for use during labor. It contains lavender oil blended with bergamot, jasmine and clary sage essential oils in a neutral carrier oil. Whilst I wouldn't recommend no other pain relief, it certainly does seem to help, especially when paired with the soothing massage.

Rachel said...

I'm actually doing a few more posts with some of those oils listed:) Thanks for the tip.

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