Perhaps of the greatest value, and what makes lavender unique in comparison to other oils such as tea tree, is its pronounced regulating effect on the nervous system. Within both the physical and psychological realm lavender is a ‘reconciler of opposites’, having an essentially balancing and harmonizing nature. In an age of extremes, it is this quality above all which may account for the strength of the popularity of lavender today! It is also this area of application which is receiving the closest examination in research studies and trials.
Of all essential oils, lavender seems to represent ‘the middle way’ – being neither ‘yin’ nor ‘yang’ in the extreme. This ‘neutral’ quality may also account for why lavender blends so readily with other essential oils – it also tends to increase the overall effectiveness of a remedy when used in combination with it. In this respect, lavender is a supreme ‘adaptogen’, i.e. it can have a restorative effect in cases of listlessness or weakness, yet has a calming effect on those prone to hyperactivity or agitation. This is why it is recommended for what appears to be such a diverse variety of symptoms including shortness of breath, depression and nervous exhaustion as well as palpitations, hysteria and hypertension. In his work with psychiatric patients, Prof. Rovesti1 noted that some essential oils, including lavender, were useful for treating both anxiety and depression or, indeed, a combination of the two.
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It is obviously not possible to define precise limits between the two aromatherapeutic actions of nerve stimulants and nerve sedatives . because of their particular type of physiological action, which Kobert has defined as simultaneously both stimulating and sedative.
This regulating action can be seen most clearly with regard to the action of lavender oil on the nervous system as a whole. It is well known that lavender can have either a tonic or/and a sedative effect on the central nervous system depending on the state of the individual concerned. This makes it one of the most valuable oils for all types of stress-related conditions, where the nervous system can ofen be both depleted and over-stimulated simultaneously. Stress also depletes the immune system, and can be the cause or the precipitating agent for all types of secondary conditions such as digestive or circulatory problems – a fact which is being increasingly recognized by the orthodox medical establishment today. Lavender is consequently particularly valuable in psychosomatic conditions of this type, where a physical condition is closely related to an underlying psychological state.