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The benefits of lavender

July 24, 2023 katiegibbas

The benefits of lavender

July 24, 2023 Katie Gibas
A bottle of essential oil with fresh lavender twigs on a white background

Alexandra Plante started making candles and soap with lavender as a hobby.

“I just love how it smells and makes me feel,” she says.

At the same time, she had been working a corporate desk job in New York City for more than a decade and started to wonder if she wanted to have that type of career for the rest of her life.

“I dreamed about removing myself from a computer screen and working with my hands,” Alexandra says .

A few years later, she moved to Western New York with her family to follow that dream. She turned her hobby not just into a new career but a new lifestyle. Six years ago they created Kin Loch Farmstead, a lavender farm with 2,500 lavender plants in Cambria. They grow nine varieties of English and French lavender.

“Lavender is such a special plant. It is classified as a scrub, flower and herb. It looks gorgeous in gardens with its evergreen scrub-base and purple flowers. Lavender can be enjoyed in a bouquet of flowers, in your food and teas, and in topical skin treatments,” she says

In addition to hosting classes and events, the farm opens every July for u-pick lavender.

“I felt it was important for people to be able to come into the lavender field and pick for themselves. We’re getting so used to being in front of screens, so I wanted to give people an experience in nature,” Alexandra says. Plus, “many people grow lavender but do not know how to harvest it or what to do with it after it has been harvested. I love teaching people how to cut and use this amazing plant.”

Lavender can be used for much more than a nice scent or a pretty decoration.

You may have heard that lavender can improve your mood and sleep by reducing stress, but the documented benefits of lavender go well beyond that. Studies suggest it can reduce inflammation, pain and migraines, improve blood pressure, help wounds heal, and even reduce colic symptoms in babies.

“The scent of lavender has been scientifically proven to help ease anxiety. The oils inside lavender have been scientifically proven to help heal the skin – it is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. The plant itself helps repel mosquitos, deer and rabbits. There are very few plants that exist that can check all those boxes,” she says.

To reap those benefits is pretty easy.

“Simply by smelling it. Most of the scientific studies around lavender and anxiety focus on the power of its scent and how that affects our brain,” Alexandra says.

To get your lavender fix, you can plant your own, visit a lavender farm, buy bundles of fresh lavender, use essential oils, or do anything that allows you to breathe that scent.

According to an article by Mount Sinai Hospital, “Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders. Studies also suggest that massage with essential oils, particularly lavender, may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, better concentration, and reduced anxiety. In one study, people who received massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than those who received massage alone.”

Health care professionals are moving beyond lavender for just aromatherapy and using it in a variety of other ways. Several studies have looked at topical applications for pain relief, addressing skin conditions and more. Lavender oil is usually diluted with another type of oil before applying it to the skin. Of course, always check with your health care team before trying any new regimen.

You may have even noticed lavender tea, baked goods and drinks. These are primarily for flavor and scent, but some studies are looking at the use of lavender teas for helping with anxiety and a variety of digestive issues.

Katie Gibas

Katie spent 12 years as a journalist, including hosting a monthly national Healthy Living show. You can usually find Katie and her husband traveling, skiing, and scuba diving. Of course, Katie is a huge Bills fan, even naming her dog Chug Flutie.

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