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Lavender is an oil which has undergone a considerable amount of research in the past few years, and is in fact the most frequently used essential oil in hospitals in the UK today:
In one Oxford hospital, lavender oil has been used for a number of years to help patients sleep at night, either by giving them a lavender bath or by sprinkling a little oil on their bedclothes. Lavender has also been used to enhance analgesia (pain-relief) in cases of arthritis, muscular tension and muscle spasm One patient who had an amputation below the knee enjoyed almost complete relief from pain for 90 minutes after being massaged on his upper leg with diluted lavender oil. In addition, the scent of lavender was found to help patients relax before surgery and prolong the effect of any pre-operative medication.
Here is clinical evidence that essential oils can potentiate the effects of sedative drugs, so by using both together the same effect can be achieved with a lower dose.5
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1989 The neurodepressive effects of lavender oil have been backed up by experimental research tests in the laboratory. In one study, lavender oil was diluted to 1 part in 60 with olive oil and then given orally to mice. The mice were then required to perform a number of tests; sedative effects were observed. It was also found that a significant interaction existed with pentabarbital, in that sleeping time was increased and wakefulness reduced.6
Lavender oil has also exhibited CNS-depressive activities on experimental animals (e.g. mice). Such activities include anticonvulsive effects, inhibition of the spontaneous motor activity, and the initiation of the narcotic effects of chloral hydrate.