Thinking about trying some anti-wrinkle Botox Cosmetic injections, but feeling just a bit squeamish about needles in your face? Try inhaling some lavender essential oil just before you hit the dermatologist's office and the whole treatment may seem a lot easier to endure.
That’s the suggestion of a new study just published in the June issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology by doctors from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute, both in Miami Beach, Florida.
Here, the researchers found that patients who were treated to the scent of lavender essential oils just before receiving their injection for wrinkles had a significant reduction in heart rate both pre and post treatment, when compared to those treated with a placebo scent.
Although the lavender did not appear to have any impact on the patient’s perception of pain, additional testing showed those who were exposed to the lavender just prior to treatment experienced an increase in parasympathetic nerve activity – which is the body’s natural calming system.
“Lavender has the potential to ease anxiety in patients undergoing invasive cosmetic procedures,” wrote lead study author Lisa Danielle Grunebaum MD.
How lavender eases anxiety
Although this is the first study to test the impact of lavender on Botox Cosmetic injections, the calming effects of this essential oil have been used in the medical arena for quite some time.
In one study on some 150 adults published by the American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses, researchers found lavender oil to be extremely effective in reducing pre-surgical anxiety in a hospital setting.
In another study published in the journal “Phytomedicine” in February 2010, doctors found lavender oil was as effective as the anti-anxiety agents known as benzodiazipene (like Valium) in reducing and controlling panic attacks without the side effects or risk of addiction.
Of course none of this is news to aroma therapists, who have been calling on the almost magical properties of lavender for centuries to reduce anxiety and help folks relax. But how exactly does lavender do this?
Experts say that, like many fragrances, essential oils stimulate our sense of smell – which has a direct impact on our brain chemistry. Indeed, people who have lost their sense of smell are often found to have a greater incidence of psychiatric problems such as anxiety or depression.
On the flip side of the coin, people with an “overactive” sense of smell can sometimes experience great anxiety when exposed to odors that don’t affect most other people.
When you take a whiff of a lavender essential oil the scent enters your body through the cilia – which are ultra-fine hairs that line the inside of your nose. The properties of the scent pass from here directly into the area of your brain that controls mood and emotion. Depending on the scent, this can incite any number of reactions, from a calming effect (like you get with lavender) to a stimulating effect (which comes from smelling jasmine).
Moreover, smelling lavender has also been shown to increase the brain’s “alpha waves” which are produced when we are in a very relaxed state, so in this way it may help contribute to a sense of calmness.
Colette Bouchez is an award winning medical journalist and author of ten books on women’s health including “ The Hot Flash Solution” , a breakthrough guide for treating hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause naturally.
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