Today I am starting a new blog series about aromatherapy and the use of essential oils. I will be highlighting a new essential oil with each post in the series. Don't worry, I'm not trying to sell you on a brand, and I won't do any posts regarding a blend that is only carried by a specific brand. My intention is to outline the benefits and uses of many of the essential oils that you are probably familiar with, and introduce you to others which may be quite useful.
I would like to start off this series with one of the most popular essential oils: lavender. Most of us are familiar with the smell of lavender and have probably used it or smelled it at some point. Lavender is a great oil, not just for its aroma which many find to be pleasing and relaxing, but for its practical uses.
So, besides smelling pretty, what is lavender actually good for?
Putting lavender oil on cuts, scrapes, burns, and bruises can actually help them to heal more quickly. Lavender oil contains the alcohol linalol. Linalol helps to kill bacteria and viruses, so it is a great way to make sure that wounds and burns don't get infected. Lavender also contains esters which are compounds that help to ease swelling and soreness. Esters also fight fungal infections and help to prevent scarring. Lavender oil also helps to build new skin, and reduce inflammation. Putting lavender oil on an open cut can also help to stop the bleeding more quickly. Neosporin has some pretty nasty chemicals in it, so lavender oil (as well as many other essential oils) is a wonderful natural alternative.
Lavender oil is great for relieving menstrual pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps to reduce muscle spasms like menstrual cramps. The soothing scent also helps you to relax. Try diluting the lavender oil with a carrier oil and rubbing it on your lower back and lower abdomen to help relieve menstrual pain.
As mentioned above, lavender oil can help to ease swelling and soreness, it also helps decrease pain from minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Lavender oil is actually the first thing I pull out when I have a burn. The best way to use it on a burn is to put a few drops of lavender essential oil into a spray bottle with cool water and spray directly on the burn.
You can also use lavender in a bath with some epsom salts to relieve sore muscles. Try brewing lavender tea and adding it to the bath, adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the bath, or mixing a couple of drops of lavender essential oil in with the epsom salt. If you buy lavender scented epsom salts, make sure to read the ingredients. You don't want any artificial fragrances. It should just have epsom salts and lavender essential oil. Any chemicals or artificial fragrances will not provide the healing benefits of the lavender.
Try applying lavender oil to help stop itching and reduce swelling from a bug bite or bee sting. Mix it with a carrier oil and apply to eczema or dermatitis. Lavender oil can also be applied to a rash to help stop the itching and heal the skin. The antiseptic properties in lavender oil also help to heal acne and sunburns. Rubbing a drop on chapped or sunburned lips can help them to heal as well.
Diffusing lavender oil can help to relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies. Warm a few drops between your hands and inhale deeply to alleviate the symptoms of hay fever. If you suffer from motion sickness, try putting a drop on the tip of your tongue, around your nail, or behind your ears to alleviate the symptoms. Lavender oil can also be used to treat cold sores and mouth ulcers, and you can put a drop on the bridge of your nose to unblock tear ducts. If you suffer from headaches, try diffusing a combination of lavender and peppermint. You can also rub it on your temples to ease the ache.
There are several great cosmetic uses for lavender. It is probably one of the most common utilizations of lavender. We have all seen lavender scented soaps, body wash, perfumes, shampoos, etc. But what you may not know is that it is is popular in cosmetics not just for its aroma, but for the benefits to your skin and hair.
Lavender is great for fighting dandruff. It conditions the skin on your scalp and helps to prevent flaking. To help fight dandruff, try adding a few drops of lavender oil when you rinse your hair, or sprinkling some on your hairbrush. You can also just rub a few drops of the oil directly onto your scalp, or brew some lavender tea, let it cool, and use it to rinse your hair. If you decide to try some lavender scented shampoo and/or conditioner, make sure to read the ingredients. Don't use anything that says "fragrance" or "parfum". These are artificial chemical fragrances that will have no benefit and may actually cause harm. Instead, look for one that says lavender essential oil.
As I said above, lavender oil is a great natural way to treat acne. Put a dab of lavender essential oil on spots and acne in the morning and before you go to bed. Massage on some lavender oil to reduce the appearance of scar tissue. Some people who don't like the chemicals in deodorant put a couple drops of lavender oil on their armpits instead. Lavender can also be added to lotions, creams, or body butters. Try making them yourself, or get unscented and mix in the essential oils. Once again, if you are going to buy cosmetics that are already scented (not just with lavender, but any scent), read the ingredients and avoid anything that says "fragrance" or "parfum".
Other Uses of Lavender
One of the most common reasons that people use lavender is to relax. The scent is very relaxing and you can reap the relaxation benefits in may ways. I already mentioned putting it in a bath, or using it in cosmetics and hair care. You can also use loose lavender flowers to brew a relaxing tea. If you want extra relaxation, try adding it to chamomile, or even peppermint tea. You can also rub lavender oil on your feet for a calming effect. Have trouble sleeping? After drinking your lavender tea, try putting some lavender on your pillow, or in an eye pillow. Buy a soft eye pillow and put some of the oil on the side that is away from your eyes, or make your own with buckwheat and fabric, and toss in some loose lavender flowers.
Around the House
There are many ways that you can use lavender around your house. Try putting a few drops on a cotton ball and placing it in your linen closet to get rid of moths and insects. You can make or buy sachets and place them in your dryer instead of using dryer sheets which have a lot of nasty chemicals. If you want to use them in the dryer, make sure that they are sewn shut, or you may have a bit of a mess on your hands. You can also put the sachets in your drawers with your cloths to make them smell fresh. You can also make your own cleaners and add lavender essential oil. Lavender is great for cleaning because of its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-septic, and anti-microbial properties. Use it to clean surfaces or floors.
Did you know that you can cook with lavender? It is a great addition to many baked goods like cookies, scones, muffins, etc. Do a search for recipes with lavender and see what you can find, or make your own. It is great in jams and preserves. If you can't find any with lavender already in them, just sprinkle some crushed, dried lavender flowers on top.
Well, I hope that this post has made you see lavender in a different way. There are so many great uses and benefits to using it. Do you have any favorite ways to use it? Leave your ideas in the comments.
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.