Many of us think of Lavender in terms of its ability to help with sleep. When I recently told a customer it was bactericidal (among other things), she was surprised Lavender could do more than help her relax. While it can support sleep quality, this hardy purple flower has been used for centuries to protect against illness and to provide healing benefits, both physical and emotional.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is part of the mint family known as Lamiaceae. It has a floral yet herbaceous aroma which is recognizable to many of us. An oft-told story about Lavender is the one in which French chemist and perfumer, Rene Gatefosse, burned his hand in a lab accident. After plunging the injured hand into a vat of Lavender essential oil, Gatefosse was amazed at how quickly the pain subsided and how well the burn healed. He coined the term “aromatherapy” in 1928. As recently as yesterday, I have used Lavender to help with the pain of a burn I got while taking something out of the oven, and more than once this summer, have used it to stop the itch of a mosquito bite. Lavender essential oil is a cicatrisant, meaning it helps to heal wounds, scars, and acne by regenerating skin cells. Its high content of both Linalool and Linalyl acetate contribute to its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory as well as anti-microbial, sedative, and anti-spasmodic properties. Lavender’s chemistry regulates the sympathetic nervous system, promoting emotional balance, provides long-term immune system support, and helps the body deal with stress. It truly is an amazing gift to us from the plant world!
Below are three ways to use Lavender essential oil. As always, I recommend purchasing GC/MS-tested, organic or unsprayed essential oils from a retailer with aromatherapy training.
1). To acne, bug bites, and burns, apply 1 drop “neat” from the bottle (make sure not to touch the bottle directly to your skin to avoid contaminating the oil). “Neat” means undiluted and this is one of the few essential oils that can be used without a carrier oil or lotion. It will help dry up acne, decrease the discomfort of a burn or insect sting, and promote healing of the injured skin. During times of stress, a few deep inhales directly from the bottle can help reduce tension and support the body-mind.
2). Lavender’s anti-microbial abilities make it the perfect essential oil for use as an all-natural hand sanitizer. I add 10 drops to 2 ounces of organic aloe vera gel to use in place of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and reap the emotional benefits as well as the physical ones. This blend can also be used to soothe and heal sunburned skin or poison ivy.
3). As a sleep aid, I add 5-6 drops of Lavender essential oil to a 2 ounce spray bottle of filtered water, spritzing my pillows and sheets, and the room in general. Spritz a cotton ball or tissue to keep at the bedside for use during the night. This spray can be used for everyone, including children.
When people think of aromatherapy, Lavender essential oil is well-known and often for relaxation, but there is so much more to this beautiful and useful oil.
by Mindy MacLaren, Nationally Certified Aromatherapist
For more tips on how to use essential oils safely, follow Mindy on Facebook.com/Sweet & Woodsy Aromatherapy.