Audio: The Infinite Uses of Lavender

Doug Corrigan: Good day to you and welcome to this edition of our audio training and educational series on Young Living products. This is Doug Corrigan, Director of Training and Education for Young Living Essential Oils. Great topic today; we have the opportunity to discuss the extensive health benefits, really a product with unmatched diversity and immeasurable value, one of our most popular and well-researched essential oils; and not just the oil but also a whole bunch of products that incorporate the therapeutic significance of this oil. We’re excited to discuss the versatility and clinically-proven Lavender essential oil and of course all the Lavender-derived products like the Hand & Body Lotion and Foaming Hand Soap, the shampoos, and all the different things that are connected to Lavender. The uses of Lavender are truly endless; in fact this one oil can be used aromatically, topically, and as a dietary supplement for a number of different reasons. Lavender oil is really like having an entire medicine cabinet in a small easy-to-carry bottle just because it is so versatile and so efficacious!

Today I have the great privilege of having with me to discuss this tremendous product a couple of real experts on the topic, one who is new to you and one who has been involved with these educational presentations for the last couple of months. The first one is Karen Boren, our Senior Research Writer and really a tremendous expert. She has had the opportunity to travel with Dr. Gary Young and work closely with Gary on a number of different projects. Of course her renowned work is in regard to the Frankincense Trail and the Frankincense essential oil and all the different research there; I’d have to say, though, Karen in regard to your expertise Frankincense has to be far and away your largest passion, but where does Lavender fit into that?

Karen Boren: Gosh when you look at the number of studies, I think Lavender comes second.

Doug: So Karen, welcome and we’re glad to have you here! For our other guest today, we have the honor and privilege of having Dr. Benjamin Perkus. Welcome Dr. Perkus.

Dr. Benjamin Perkus: Thank you, great to be here.

Doug: Dr. Perkus is a licensed psychologist who works out of Binghamton, New York. He has worked in private practice for the last 14 years and helps adults and children find balance through traditional and holistic methods. He and his wife Elaine began using Young Living Essential Oils in 2001 and discovered that was a powerful tool that could help his clients as well. Dr. Ben and Elaine have traveled throughout the Northeast United States teaching people how to achieve emotional and physical health through essential oils. In fact just recently, in 2011, Dr. Perkus had the opportunity to travel to Japan and present to over 1800 Young Living distributors in 5 cities across Japan. He was well received over there and people were very excited about what he had to share. He developed protocols for healing trauma and for achieving peak performance as well as overcoming problems like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and developmental delays. Dr. Perkus we are so excited to have you here today and for you to discuss with us today, as emotional health is so inseparably linked with Lavender essential oil.

Dr. Perkus: Absolutely. It’s great to be here and thanks for giving me the opportunity to share this topic. Lavender is one of my favorites.

Doug: One of the things that is really linked inseparably with Lavender, and this is where we’re going to start off as there are many things we could talk about, but I think it’s really timely for today and in our modern world to discuss the issue of stress and nervous tension. Stress and nervous tension are on everybody’s mind and they’re so pervasive, but a lot of people really don’t understand how big a problem this is. Dr. Perkus, give us a little idea of just what big issues stress and nervous tension are.

Dr. Perkus. I’d be happy to. You know stress is something that we’re physiologically hard-wired to experience when we feel danger or threat. The trouble is that our bodies and our minds are prepared to handle a stressor that comes and then goes away. The trouble with the modern world is that the stress is cumulative and the stress never seems to end, and our body and mind really don’t distinguish between the stress of maybe financial stress, or having a medical problem, or the stress of too many things to do or too many demands placed upon us or work demands, so the stress really piles up and it never seems to let up. So we are faced in our society with a problem where we get stressed and more stressed and more stressed, and eventually it overflows into symptoms like sleeplessness, like stress, irritability, hopelessness; it goes on and on. Stress really has been named as the foundation of the mental health problems that we experience in our world today. One of the things that Lavender really does is that it helps with the sense of overwhelm. It helps to calm the mind. This is one of the most important things in managing stress, is to get a handle on our thought process and to not let our thoughts run away with us. Stress is something that, if we don’t manage it, it will really manage us and it will really rule us. It will degenerate our mental health and it will degenerate our physical health too.

Doug: I’ve even heard recently, and there was a great National Geographic presentation about this, where they called stress “the silent killer.” That was alarming to me because I never realized it could lead to such serious issues, but the things you’re talking about – irritability, hopelessness; it seems like it’s a bigger problem than most people realize.

Dr. Perkus: It really is. What I tell my clients is, I use a metaphor of a bridge. Suppose you have a bridge that’s designed to handle a certain amount of traffic and all of a sudden there are more trucks and more cars going over that bridge. That bridge starts to sag, it starts to strain, it’s close to breaking. That’s kind of what happens to our bodies and minds when we have too much stress, we have too many things on our plate – we start to really sag and there are two things you can do when you’re starting to get overwhelmed like that: You can either reduce the amount of traffic going over that bridge by managing your stressors, or you need to put some more support under that bridge to support it. That’s really where I think some of the value of aromatherapy comes in; Lavender and other oils as well, but one of the great things about Lavender is that by supporting our body and supporting our mind it helps us to not break under that strain.

Doug: That’s a great way to put that! So how can we use Lavender to support us in our day-to-day? Is this something that we need to be using all the time, having it with us all the time? I mean, how do you use it to support your mental and emotional health, or how do you recommend that people do it?

Dr. Perkus: If you carry it with you then it’s kind of like a rescue remedy in a bottle for physical ailments, and also for any time you’re feeling a little down. But the first thing I want to talk about really is sleep, because we’re designed to get sleep every night to restore our bodies and restore our minds. In our modern world that’s one of the first things to go; when we run out of time we just stay up later or get up earlier, or we can’t sleep because of the stressors, because of the things that are on our mind. So when we start to lose our sleep or our sleep quality is not good, then that really influences so many other aspects of our life. Sleep is one of the things that lavender is really renowned for helping; in a lot of the studies (I’m sure Karen will talk about it), a lot of the studies on lavender are about sleep – improving the quality of sleep, being able to get to sleep more quickly. When we sleep more deeply and more fully we also awake more refreshed, we have more energy the next day and we need energy to be able to face the world, so sleep is the first thing. If there are any problems with sleep, Lavender is absolutely a go-to oil for that.

Doug: Fantastic, what a great point that is. I know that we use it all the time in my family, and one of the expressions we always say in my family is “he’s so tired that he can’t sleep.” And when you’re in that situation, especially when kids are in that situation, where they’re really so tired and so anxious that they just can’t get to sleep, Lavender is one of those things that seems to be perfect in that instance because it just puts you over that edge where now you can really relax. You turn your fatigue into something where you can be relaxed and fall asleep. Karen, maybe you could weigh in there a little bit about what the science tells us in regard to sleep, and how Lavender can assist us with that?

Karen: I have a fat packet of many, many studies and they range from tiny babies up through college students who are stressed with their schedules. I loved reading about the infants because my oldest daughter had terrible colic and if I had known about lavender back then it would have made my life much nicer! But they took some very tiny infants and gave them a lavender-scented bath, and it reduced their stress and their crying, and it also helped them to sleep. If you’ve got a cranky baby there is just nothing sweeter than knowing that baby can go to sleep, and lavender is so gentle that it can even be used on a tiny baby. As far as the college students, not only did they have poor sleep but they had irritability, as was mentioned earlier, and lavender seemed to help them tremendously. I can give you study after study, but it’s a marvelous thing; such a simple and such a pleasant way to go to sleep.

Doug: Great points. Now you talked about baths and using it in a bath, and I think that would work for an adult too, right?

Karen: Oh yes!

Doug: If you had the time, the luxury of taking a bath in the evening to relax! How else would we use this if we wanted to help ourselves get to sleep, how are you recommending that people use it, Dr. Perkus?

Dr. Perkus: A few different ways; what’s great about it for children is that there’s no pill to take, you can just rub it directly on the feet and of course rubbing any oil on the feet will go through the whole body very quickly, so rubbing a couple of drops on the feet. I suggest putting a drop or two right on the pillow, and then it’s kind of in the pillow and all through the night it’s wafting. So I would say on the feet or on the pillow or, if you can take a bath, that’s excellent and you can use the Lavender Bath & Shower Gel because of course you have the warm water that is slowly releasing that aroma, and your pores are opening and absorbing that. Those are the ways that I would suggest for sleep.

Doug: I think a combination of those things would be very effective and Karen, you were talking to me about this just the other day with some really interesting information in regard to absorption. We can breathe it in, and aromatically has to be a portion of it because I think that so much of releasing nervous tension really happens in that limbic system area, but also in the bloodstream – if we use it topically, how fast is it getting into our blood and at what levels?

Karen: I was so interested to run across a study done at the University of Vienna where literally they were taking blood samples so that they could check when the lavender was showing up in the blood. They had a male volunteer that was receiving a massage on his stomach, and within 5 minutes they could detect it in the blood. After 90 minutes it was still there to some degree; it was starting to go down but if you can imagine, a massage in itself is relaxing but to use lavender as well, it’s going immediately through your skin, into the body within 5 minutes.

Doug: That’s impressive, and that’s what we need when we have an emotional issue, and Dr. Perkus you used the words rescue remedy … so we know it can help us with our sleep but how else would you recommend that we use this, and how else can it help us with stress and nervous tension, Dr. Perkus?

Dr. Perkus: Really anytime we are feeling, I mentioned the term overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is a symptom both of stress and irritability. We feel anxious when we feel a threat but we can’t really identify a specific problem-solving strategy to address that threat, because it’s coming on so many fronts so we need to calm our minds down so that we can focus on effective problem-solving. So anytime that you’re feeling overwhelmed I suggest that you take the bottle and just smell it, take a couple drops and rub them on your shoulders, on your neck. Overwhelm is also a symptom, when a person feels helpless or hopeless, so for the same reason – and this is amazing about many of the oils, but especially Lavender – is that it’s an adaptogen, which means it will help us if we need to calm down, it will help us calm down; if we need to feel more strength and feel that we have the resources to handle a problem, it can also give us those. For instance if someone is feeling depressed and they’re smelling Lavender, they’re going to get that feeling of soothing that maybe everything is going to be all right, and that helps them to take the steps they need to take to solve the problems that seem insurmountable.

Doug: This seems so different than your normal conventional remedies. I mean if you’re going out and taking a drug, you’re going to take an anxiolytic that’s going to help you reduce nervous tension, but might actually cause a depressed state! What you’re talking about here is so different, a natural remedy like Lavender almost has an intelligence like you’re talking about that could help us in both situations – adaptogen is the word, it helps you to adapt to stress no matter if you’re revving hot or if your engine needs a boost so to say; Lavender could come in for either one.

Karen: I did a lot of study on dementia and I think there’s probably nothing that’s more difficult and hard to take than when you have an elderly parent that’s suffering from dementia, and you do not want it covered up with some kind of a drug. Many, many studies have been done where lavender has been used; often perhaps more the massage and through skin absorption because I understand there were some studies that suggested as people grow older they’re not getting the power of the aroma, but it seemed to calm and help people with dementia and I thought, what a precious gift that is.

Doug: Absolutely. Tell us about that, Dr. Perkus, if someone is struggling with stress and nervous tension and is over-anxious, what does conventional medicine say and what kinds of things would be prescribed in that situation, and what might be the problems with that?

Dr. Perkus: As you said, medications are really designed to force the body and force the brain into a certain direction. That can push you too far; it can push you down. Conversely an drugs meant to boost certain brain chemicals whether they need to be boosted or not, and some people have side effects because they’re being forced into a direction that is not exactly where their brain needed to go. The beautiful thing about the essential oils is that they just support the body and the brain and the mind in moving in the direction they need to move in; it gives the resources and there are so many things, blood pressure and a lot of other things that, given the right oil, will help the body move into whatever direction it needs to go. The other great thing that I tell people about essential oils is that there are no side effects. With essential oils you have the effect that you want and there are really no side effects. People will ask if it’s safe to use the essential oils if they’re already on medication and I explain to them, absolutely. Essential oils don’t interact with their mood medication, but I say to work with the doctor if you are on any of these because as you use the essential oils you may start to come into balance and your medication may become too strong all of a sudden. So if you’re starting to cool your jets off with Lavender, all of a sudden that sleep medication that you’re taking might be too much for you so as you use the essential oils, do work with your doctor to reduce and hopefully eliminate these other medications.

Doug: How dramatic might that be? I guess most people would be in tune enough with their feelings to know which way things are going, but that’s a very interesting situation.

Dr. Perkus: Yeah, it does happen and I warn people ahead of time. Generally in my situation I know which people are on medication and we have that conversation so that they’re not taken off guard but sometimes people will, through a variety of means, start to feel better and then they start having other problems and they realize that it’s actually the medication that’s causing the problem, because they didn’t need it anymore.

Doug: That’s fascinating. Is Lavender something that you can apply on the run or maybe diffuse in the office space and not worry about getting fatigued?

Dr. Perkus: I would say yes for the most part. There is a little caveat there because I know some of the research was showing that when people were using a lot of lavender maybe their reaction time might slow a little bit in intense cognitive tasks, so you want to use common sense and if you are doing an activity that requires you to be really mentally sharp and focused, if you’re feeling over-anxious then yes, use the Lavender to calm down and get into the groove. You wouldn’t use Lavender necessarily to improve your reaction time; you would choose a different oil for that. You want to use your Lavender when you’re taking micro-breaks, taking those breaks throughout the day that let your body and mind restore. But I don’t know that I would use it all the time in every situation.

Doug: Sure. I know there is some interesting science in that regard.

Karen: Well there is. There was a 2012 study that suggested that lavender helped with memory formation. Especially in my work, I need to be able to remember certain things that I’m looking for when I’m doing research, and lavender would actually help your spatial memory. There was another study that suggested that administration of lavender helped to maintain sustained attention during a long-term task. My favorite story is the study that I ran across that suggested that people who were terminal had a lavender hand massage and it literally gave them more energy. We think of lavender as being so sedative and calming; again as an adaptogen it gave what they needed. So it may be that lavender can actually help you with some of those mental tasks.

Doug: Certainly with patients, the fatigue is always an issue and it answers that need with an adaptogenic type response. I’ve also seen studies where, with regard to lavender, as you said it doesn’t necessarily increase performance speed or reaction time but what it does increase is accuracy. Lavender doesn’t help you complete it faster but it helps you complete it more accurately and have better recall.

Dr. Perkus: I’m glad you mentioned that because I think part of what happens is that we get so used to being stressed and so used to performing under stress conditions and pushing ourselves that when we actually feel relaxed and calm it may feel odd; we may not be used to it. So we need to get used to the possibility that we can perform better in a relaxed fashion and that’s something that Lavender can provide.

Doug: Faster is not always better, and that certainly is something for us in our modern society to understand at a much deeper and more profound level. Lavender seems the perfect remedy in regard to this situation, where we are dealing so often with stress and nervous tension, and really giving us better perspective and helping us to be in the moment. The term that we use a lot is grounding, and it helps us to center and balance and ground; just that process of taking some time for ourselves to smell something wonderful throughout the day and just let it wash through our limbic system and through our mind and emotions; that could be just exactly what we need to help balance those cortisol levels and all the other different hormones that are always raging day to day. We could go on, but is there anything else that you wanted to mention before we move on to a different topic with some of the other uses for lavender?

Dr. Perkus: Just a couple quick things; one is that sometimes people can use it who are feeling shy, feeling that they have something inside that they want to express but they have stage fright. Something like lavender can just take enough of the edge off, and can give them a feeling of confidence, that’s one case where I’ll use it. Another case is addiction; if somebody is trying to break an old habit, they’re trying to break out of a negative habit – by using lavender, just smelling it throughout the day whenever they may be tempted to do that thing they’re trying to break from, it will so quickly change the mood and change their energy enough to go into the new habit instead of the old one.

Doug: Great points, those are very useful tips. Karen, anything more?

Karen: I ran across a study which is kind of interesting because they were actually looking at free radical scavenging and cortisol levels at the same time, which I thought was odd. Interesting to know that lavender is anti-inflammatory; but they said that it literally decreased cortisol levels in saliva and they tested this. Cortisol can sometimes just make us crazy, so what a nice thing to know.

Doug: That’s right, cortisol is often called “the death hormone” and of course any hormones that get out of control can quickly make us crazy, so lavender could be just what we need and with regard to Dr. Perkus, just what the doctor ordered for many people! So we’re going to move on and discuss just a few –just a few – of the many other uses of lavender.

Before we do that, it’s important to know that quality is always an issue with lavender. It’s important to get the really true pure lavender. There are many different species of lavender out there and what we often see is companies who are adulterating their lavender with a hybrid cousin of lavender called lavandin. That’s problematic because lavandin is actually produced by crossing true lavender with spike lavender and, while lavandin has some properties of its own; in fact we use lavandin in Purification oil because it has a stronger antiseptic activity than true lavender, but the problem is when they try to pass lavandin off as lavender because it is a little bit less expensive and a little bit more common. You might have some problems with that, and it just doesn’t work the same way both from an emotional standpoint and from a topical standpoint, because one of the great things about lavender and the ways to use it is as a wound healer, especially with regard to burns and to small cuts, abrasion, even different things – you can always apply that. In fact there’s a great story and how it became famous … tell us a little bit about that, Karen.

Karen: It’s really funny, the story has kind of gotten twisted. You’ll read many different versions on the internet but I actually read the true biography where he explained that he had been in a laboratory explosion and he was literally on fire. He ran outside, he rolled on the lawn, he extinguished it but very soon the burns on his arm developed into gaseous gangrene, and so he used pure lavender on it and he said it immediately began to heal.

Doug: Now that’s Dr. Gattefosse? How do you pronounce his name?

Karen: I’m not sure I got it exactly right!

Doug: Well it sounds good to me. So you should only use pure therapeutic-grade but we’ll call it authentic – authentic and pure essential oil of lavender, the genuine article. The fastest way to make sure that you have the genuine article is to go with the world leader in essential oils, of course Young Living. You’ll never have to scratch your head or wonder if that product is adulterated or changed in any way, because you know that it’s the genuine article when you deal with Young Living. Lavender is so important, and because true pure lavender is becoming rarer and rarer in the world marketplace, Young Living is passionate and Gary Young is passionate about growing lavender, and that’s why we grow lavender on 3 of our world farms.

Karen: I found a really fascinating Turkish study where they were looking at some lavender and they were really surprised that several of the constituents that lavender is well-known for – sorry off the top of my head I can’t remember them – but they weren’t there. They posited that that is because this lavender was grown at a low altitude. Now I actually did a transfer of meters to feet to figure out the altitude of the lavender in Provence, France; and Young Living’s two lavender farms in the United States in Mona, Utah and in St. Maries, Idaho are literally higher than they are in Provence. So the altitude is actually making quite a difference in the capability and the authenticity of the lavender.

Doug: And I would say in the effect, the efficacy of the lavender, or the therapeutic activity, right?

Karen: Yes.

Doug: Now, lots of people use lavender as a great body wash, as an antiseptic, and of course that’s one of the reasons Young Living utilizes lavender in so many things; it’s been used since Roman times for washing and for its antiseptic qualities. We know about Young Living’s Lavender Foaming Hand Soap, we know about the great Lavender Hand & Body Lotion, and we know about the great Lavender shampoo which is actually the Lavender Mint Shampoo and Conditioner. That’s probably one of my family’s favorite products; I love that experience every morning, waking up and having that tremendous boost with the mint and lavender.

Moving forward with this, lavender also has abilities in regard to relief from discomfort, and it’s shown here that “in a variety of uncomfortable conditions, lavender can be utilized in a pinch for a variety of things.” Dr. Perkus, beyond stress and nervous tension what are you using lavender for?

Dr. Perkus: Lavender is our go-to for burns, obviously; for cuts and scrapes; there’s a great headache remedy that I learned that I teach people every chance I get: start by layering Lavender on the place of the headache, and then Peppermint, and then Lemon. Those 3 are just amazing because the Lavender just kicks it off with kind of calming the tissue, and then the Peppermint helps with relief from discomfort and the Lemon helps to flush everything.

Doug: That’s a great combination.

Dr. Perkus: I recommend lavender for people with acne; it helps to gently dry the skin if people have skin that’s too oily, and in a pinch use it for anything. For discomfort, even for something for which you might normally think of another oil, if lavender is all that we have on hand that’s what we use.

Doug: Is it just for simple headaches, or how severe of a headache are we talking about?

Dr. Perkus: I’ll recommend it for any headache.

Karen: And I can jump in and tell you that there’s a study showing its efficacy with migraine headaches, which are not my favorite thing to have.

Doug: Tremendous! So we can see that it can be used in a variety of ways. Like you mentioned, in skin care products. Karen, maybe you can share with us a little more about the things you see in the literature for which lavender is really helpful.

Karen: Well I first want to put a plug in for a soap that you haven’t mentioned, the Lavender-Rosewood bar soap. That is my personal favorite and I think I have a year’s supply of it! I never want to run out, I love that soap! But I have a number of studies where lavender was so helpful with discomfort, and one of them was again with terminal patients who suffering with discomfort. Their discomfort scores literally went down after they had a lavender massage, so it’s calming but it also somehow made their discomfort much less.

Another study that is actually just out now, May 2012, talks about how a blend of essential oils of lavender and sage and marjoram actually were extremely helpful for menstrual cramps. There’s another study that talked about using lavender after an episiotomy, after a woman has had a baby. There are just so many things; it’s just almost more than I can go into!

Doug: This is really catching fire out there.

Dr. Perkus: There’s one more thing I forgot to mention, that is allergies. Lavender is a natural antihistamine and we have several people we know who have used lavender to overcome allergies and get off allergy medication. The protocol they use is morning and night religiously for 2 to 3 weeks, take a couple drops of Lavender oil, smell it, apply it to the back of the neck, apply it to the bottom of the feet. It doesn’t necessarily clear the sinuses right away like maybe eucalyptus or peppermint would but over time, over the course of a couple of weeks it seems to reset the system, the allergy response system. I’ve had several people who have become totally free of allergies that way.

Karen: Thank you for that! I have friends I’m going to share that with.

Doug: Great tips. If you’re not already a huge fan of lavender, hopefully this call will help you get really excited about the potential. Anything else to add as we wrap up?

Karen: My kids are all grown now so I don’t have to deal with this, but my grown children now have their own children. When they go back to school this terrible little thing seems to spread around and it’s this horrible plague called lice. Lavender is a wonderful alternative to using something that is so dangerous, as are most of the shampoos that they have. I have 2 studies that show it’s very effective against lice.

I have another set of studies, quite a few, that say it is wonderful for oral care. What an amazing thing, we’ll just have to get Marc Schreuder to give us a lavender toothpaste!

Doug: Again, great tips. Lavender is one of those phenomenal oils that we just have to have with us all the time. You talked about a year’s supply of the Lavender-Rosewood bar soap; well we’d better have a year’s supply in our house of Lavender oil itself! In the instance that we wouldn’t be able to access a variety of oils it seems that Lavender could fill in the blanks. I have learned a lot by being involved with this and have loved the opportunity to share. Karen any final words?

Karen: Yes, here’s one for the gentlemen since I gave a few for the ladies. There’s a study just done in May 2011 showing that lavender oil was protective of testosterone levels in men. So goodness there’s just nothing that this little oil can’t do!

Doug: It seems like it! How about you, Dr. Perkus, any final words for the audience?

Dr. Perkus: It sounds like lavender is the little oil that could.

Doug: Very much so! I appreciate you both taking time to be with us and share with us as we learn and go forward. I thank the audience for spending your valuable time listening to this educational series about these prized Lavender products. So this coming season as the harvest is shortly upon us, we encourage you all to share with us via the blog or Facebook, and everybody let’s celebrate Lavender and the wonders of this tremendous essential oil as we experience the benefits of these products for ourselves, and then more importantly that we share them with friends, neighbors, and family members. So until next time and on behalf of Karen Boren and Dr. Benjamin Perkus we wish you abundant health and wealth, and Godspeed on your quest for happiness.

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