The stress-relieving, mood-boosting and energizing effects of various aromatherapy blends are well known, and aromatherapy is an effective session add-on used by many massage therapists.

New research shows that lavender oil is a potent antifungal agent.

Lavender oil could be used to combat the increasing incidence of antifungal-resistant infections, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, published by the Society for General Microbiology. The essential oil shows a potent antifungal effect against strains of fungi responsible for common skin and nail infections.

Scientists from the University of Coimbra in Portugal distilled lavender oil from the Lavandula viridis L’Hér shrub that grows in southern Portugal. The oil was tested against a range of pathogenic fungi and was found to be lethal to a range of skin-pathogenic strains, known as dermatophytes, as well as various species of Candida, according to a university press release.

“Dermatophytes cause infections of the skin, hair and nails as they use the keratin within these tissues to obtain nutrients,” the press release noted. “They are responsible for conditions such as athletes’ foot, ringworm and can also lead to scalp and nail infections.”

The researchers have demonstrated that lavender oil works by destroying fungal cells by damaging the cell membrane. They believe that further research into the mechanisms by which this essential oil works could have significant clinical benefits.

“Lavandula oil shows wide-spectrum antifungal activity and is highly potent,” said Professor Lígia Salgueiro. “This is a good starting point for developing this oil for clinical use to manage fungal infections.”

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