by Jenna Koroly, MS, RD, CSOWM, CDN
Lavender is a plant belonging to the mint family. It is often found in essential oils, lotions and perfumes. With its bright purple color and calming fragrance, lavender is well-known for its application in aromatherapy, but can also be used in fresh or dried form in baked goods or other dishes.
Perillyl alcohol, or POH, is a constituent derived from lavender and other botanicals. Animal studies using POH have shown tumor inhibition and regression [Lantry et al., 1997 as cited in reference i]. In a study with patients with recurrent malignant gliomas, the researchers found that POH may influence transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta or Ras signaling pathways, in turn leading to antitumor activity [ii].
Lavender aromatherapy may improve relaxation, sleep, migraines, pain, and heart rate. The constituents linalool and linalyl acetate in lavender may relax blood vessels, and oral lavender formulas have been shown to improve anxiety and depression. Though lavender has not been found to reduce anxiety during radiation, lavender aromatherapy may aid in relaxation and steady breathing [i].
Ways to Use
Lavender may be found in oil form in aromatherapy, in lotions, soaps, or candles. For cooking and baking, lavender can be used in fresh or dried forms to enhance flavor and color. Try lavender in baked goods, or use to enhance the flavors of snacks such as in lavender roasted almonds. Keep an eye out for our Savor Cooks article featuring lavender, coming soon!
[i] Lavender. Retrieved from https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/lavender
[ii] da Fonseca CO, Schwartsmann G, Fischer J, Nagel J, Futuro D, Quirico-Santos T, Gattass CR, 2008. Preliminary results from a phase I/II study of perillyl alcohol intranasal administration in adults with recurrent malignant gliomas. Surg Neurol, 70(3):266-7. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20000747