Summertime brings an abundance of lavender in the garden, its lovely fragrance enveloping everything around it.

Lavender has been used since antiquity for all sorts of purposes. Native to the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Africa, it is now cultivated around the world.

In modern times, the fragrant oils of its flowers are used in baked goods, candles, cosmetics, detergents, jellies, massage oils, perfumes,

And it’s used a great deal in aromatherapy. In fact, it is the most popular aromatherapy scent in the world.

The name lavender is derived from the Latin “lavare,” meaning “to wash.” It was used as a perfume in baths and laundry and as an antiseptic by the ancient Greeks, Persians and Romans.

Many people find lavender aromatherapy to be relaxing, and the Mayo Clinic and others have cited some studies that have shown it to have anti-anxiety effects, potentially helping with depression as well.

Lavender aromatherapy has been used to decrease anxiety since the 19th century. A 2011 American study showed that lavender aromatherapy provides a decrease in stress levels and reduces the pain intensity of needle insertion.

Research has also demonstrated that dental anxiety can be reduced by lavender aromatherapy. A 2010 study published in the journal Community Dental Oral Epidemiology showed lower anxiety levels in office settings with lavender aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy uses volatile oils that evaporate and are inhaled, stimulating the olfactory nerves in the nasal passages. The result is more than just a pleasant smell — the stimulating effect reaches the brain via nerves, causing stimulation in the limbic system, which is involved with controlling emotions.

Smell, consume or relax with lavender
The effect is comparable to taking herbal medications by mouth to influence the limbic system. But aromatherapy brings the added benefit of pleasing scents.

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