Lavender essential oil is one of the most versatile of the essential oils and of all herbal products. It is created by steam distillation of the flowers of the lavendula angustifolia, or of the lavendula officinalis plant. Lavender has long been used for medicinal, as well as home-keeping and cosmetic purposes. The name is from the Latin root word lavare, which means "to wash." Lavender probably earned this name because of its frequent use as an addition to the bath. Lavender produces a calming, almost sedative effect. It is one of the most soothing of the essential oils.
Medicinal Uses of Lavender Essential Oil
Clinical studies show that lavender oil can be useful in a variety of medical conditions, including:
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Circulatory problems
- Insect bites
- Muscle aches and pains
- Post-op pain
- Sore throat
It also benefits the skin, immune and circulatory systems. Lavender oil is often used with massage, acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation to achieve the desired results. Lavender, like other essential oils, is very concentrated and should be avoided during the following times:
- If you are pregnant or breast feeding
- Sensitive skin
Other Uses for Lavender Oil
Lavender essential oil also has many practical uses in the home. It can be added to sachets and placed between linens and stored fabrics to help repel moths. Its antibacterial qualities make it a wonderful addition to homemade cleaning supplies, as well as a helpful addition to the laundry rinse cycle.
- You can make a fantastic disinfecting room freshener by adding twenty drops of the oil to one pint of water in a spray bottle. You can even mix several different essential oils to get a one of a kind scent with a specific aromatherapy focus. This spray can be sprayed on counter tops, door knobs and other surfaces that need to be disinfected.
- It can be put full-strength on insect bites to stop itching and stinging.
- Mix 25 drops in a half-pint of sterile water. Keep in a spray bottle and use to spray on cuts and scrapes to help guard against infection.
- Lavender essential oil can be used to calm stressed animals. Put a few drops in the pet carrier, or in a close area and the animal will be calmer during transport.
- Add ten drops of lavender oil to one ounce of sweet almond oil. This oil can be used to relieve muscle pain and stiffness, or rubbed on the temples and neck to help relieve headaches.
- The same mixture can be used to repel biting insects, and smells much better than sulfur or garlic.
- It is good as an additive to soaps and facial products for acne prone skin due to its antibacterial characteristics.
- Combine with ylang ylang to ease symptoms of PMS.
- Combine with orange or tangerine to use for depression and lift the spirits. In fact, researchers believe that this scent may cause an increase in alpha waves in the brain.
How to Use
There are many ways to use essential oils, alone or in combination. It does not take much to have an effect, so use sparingly.
- If you want to relax, sprinkle about ten drops of lavender oil in a warm bath with about a tablespoon of organic coconut oil added to it. The scent of the lavender will lift your mood, and help to relax tense muscles, while the coconut oil will soften skin and add a luxurious feeling to the bath.
- Use a few drops of the oil in an essential oil diffuser. You can purchase metal ring diffusers to be placed on light bulbs. As the light bulb heats the oil, the scent is spread around the room. You can make a diffuser with a canning jar ring that will work just as well as a purchased diffuser ring.
- Buy, or make, candles with the lavender oil in them.
- Add to a carrier oil like sweet almond, coconut or safflower, and use for massage.
- Add to an herbal salve for increased healing properties.
- Mix with Epsom Salts and allow to stand for a few weeks. Add by the handful to a bath to relieve muscle aches.
How to Store Essential Oils
The oils should be stored in a cool, dark area. A refrigerator is acceptable and will increase the shelf life of your oils, however freezing is not recommended in this case. The cold oils may become cloudy but this will not affect the way they work. Essential oils should be stored in dark glass. Amber, blue or even violet glass bottles are best. Sunlight, or rather the ultraviolet rays in sunlight, can weaken the oils and change their chemical makeupPlastic should not be used because the essential oils are very concentrated and can dissolve plastic and rubber easily. For this same reason, aluminum should not be used as it can leach metal into the oil. The insides of the caps and mouths of the storage containers should not be touched so that the contents are not contaminated by your body oils and acids.
Lavender oil is a sweet smelling way to keep yourself, your family and even your pets, healthy.