Triple “A” Lavender Essential Oil
Amazing lavender studies continue to be published every month. The August 2015 Brazilian research we will review this week is no exception.
Certain “A” benefits of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil are the focus of 14 researchers from Brazilian universities and research centers. At the Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Institutio de Cardiologia, and the Departamento de Engenharia Quimica, lavender was put through its paces to determine its Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, and Antinociceptive effects. (Antinociceptive means reduces sensitivity to pain.)
The researchers noted that “The Lavandula angustifolia Mill. specie is well known among people as a powerful aromatic and medicinal herb. The plant is used in traditional and folk medicines of different parts of the world for the treatment of several gastrointestinal, nervous and rheumatic disorders.”1
GC and GC/MS analysis determined that the three main constituents are linalool (32.52 percent), linalyl acetate (21.57 percent), and D-limonene (6.477 percent). The study states that “The components found are in agreement with the British Pharmacopoeia and, as reported in the literature . . . demonstrating the authenticity sample.”2
The next A benefit refers to anti-inflammatory. Two tests of inflammation were set up by inducing pleurisy in the lining around the lungs of Wistar rats and by causing edema (swelling) in the rats’ ears by applying croton oil, a very good irritant.
Female Wistar rats were treated with either lavender essential oil or saline for the control group or dexamethasaone, a steroidal anti-inflammatory as a reference drug. Then each of these three groups had pleurisy induced by carrageenan injection. The study reports “The essential oil caused a marked reduction in the volume and total protein concentration in the collected exudates.”3 The steroidal drug, dexamethasome had similar results as the essential oil, but it comes with side effects of weakening the immune system, possible severe depression, coughing up blood, vision problems, and can affect growth in children, to name a few.4
As for the ear edema that was induced, “The oral administration of the LEO [lavender essential oil] (0.6 g/kg) or the topical application (50 μL/ear), 60 minutes before the croton oil, inhibited the development of ear edema.”5 The lack of swelling shows that lavender stopped inflammation caused by the croton oil. Dexamethasone also inhibited inflammation but again, with those possible side effects.
Now for the “A” benefit many of us would love to see, anti-pain! Formalin, an aqueous solution of about 40% formaldehyde, is shot into the rats’ right-hind paw. The researchers observe flinching behavior and licking, by which they know the rat is in pain. Lavender essential oil and indomethacin (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) were given following the injection of formalin. Lavender essential oil was able to significantly reduce the number of flinches in the first phase of this test, while indomethacin was not able to reduce the flinching behavior. The study explains:
In this work, we demonstrated that, in addition to anti-inflammatory activity, the oral treatment with lavender oil produces significant antinociception. In the first phase, lavender essential oil as well as tramadol, presented antinociceptive effects. Indeed, indomethacin, a non-selective COX inhibitor, was able to inhibit the antinociceptive effects only in the second phase . . . if lavender treatment caused a similar behavior to tramadol and different than indomethacin, then possibly the mechanism of action of lavender essential oil is not involved with inactivation of COX.6
It seems lavender oil possesses pain-suppressing mysteries that science has yet to discover. The conclusion of this study states,
“the results of the present study show the analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of the lavender oil. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the oil without evidence of significant toxic effects supports the interest for application of lavender essential oil as a therapeutic agent. Further studies should be conducted to evaluate and characterize the receptors involved in the Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects.”7
This Brazilian study is available to download: http://www.scielo.br/pdf/aabc/2015nahead/0001-3765-aabc-201520150056.pdf. We did not address the toxicity tests. This will add another “A” benefit for lavender: Anti-Acute Toxicity! Here is what the study reported: “The acute treatment with LEO [lavender essential oil] by oral administration at doses up to 1.5 g/kg did not produced any sign of toxicity or death in rats in the 14 days of observation.”8
- Silva GL, et al. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2015 Aug 4;0. [Epub ahead of print]
- Silva, op cit.