The popularity of essential oils has grown tremendously over the years. Of all the essential oils out there, one of the most popular, if not the most popular, is lavender essential oil. What about lavender oil? Why is it so popular? What does it have that people want? I will attempt to answer these questions in this post and tell you what makes it so popular.
The scientific name for the most commonly available lavender essential oil is Lavandula angustifolia. The word lavender comes from the word Lavare, meaning “to wash”. It’s in the Lamiaceae family. Lavender is a woody evergreen shrub with slender, green leaves and grows to about three feet tall. Out from the shrub grow stalks of violet-blue flowers with a sweet, floral aroma.
A Little History
Lavender originated in the Mediterranean region and is also native to North Africa. It can now be found throughout the United States, Australia and southern Europe. The oil from lavender is produced in many countries; England, Australia, Greece, and Bulgaria, just to mention a few.
People started using lavender over 2500 years ago. It was used in ancient Egypt for mummification by wrapping the body with cloth dipped in lavender. The ancients used lavender for cleansing baths. During the Black Plague in the 14th-17th centuries, lavender was used to protect people from the disease.
Some Other Tidbits About Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is extracted from the flowers using the steam distillation method. The oil is found in microscopic glands on the outside layer of petals and on the inside layer of petals. The leaves, stalks, and branches also contain the oil. The best time to harvest is when the flowers are in full bloom.
The highest quality oil comes from the first distillation of the flowers and is clear in color. Lesser quality comes when flowers are distilled more than once and produces a pale colored oil. This oil has a stronger scent, but not as pleasant as the first distillation. This helps determine the value of the oil.
The value of the oil is also determined by the pressure and temperature being applied to the flowers during the process. It’s important to note when shopping for the oil, the highest quality lavender essential oil has the clear color. If you can find out about a company’s production process, that would be most helpful as to the quality.
Lavender oil consists of over 150 chemical components. The most dominant components are linalool, linalyl acetate, lavandulyl acetate, t-p3-ocimene, a-terpineol, nerol, neryl acetate, and beta-caryophyllene. Those are just the major ones. It also contains camphor and esters. There are many more low percentage components that make Lavender essential oil what it is.
Lavender essential oil is in the floral scent category of oils. It has a sweet floral fragrance with hints of herbal, balsamic, and woody. Because of its sweet, floral fragrance, it is very popular in the perfume and body spray industry. In the note category, lavender can be either top note or middle note that makes up 50% of a blend.
Lavender essential oil blends well with these oils:
- Woody family: cedarwood, cypress, pine, and juniper.
- Floral family: chamomile, geranium, palmarosa, and rose.
- Camphoraceous family: eucalyptus, ravensara, tea tree, and peppermint.
- Earthy family: Patchouli, oakmoss, and vetiver.
- Spicy family: black pepper, clove, rosemary, and thyme.
- Herbal family: clary sage and marjoram.
- Citrus family: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, mandarin, and it actually blends well with most citrus.
Remember, when blending add middle and base note oils to get the best results. See my post “Blending And Essential Oils – Here’s What To Do“.
The therapeutic properties of lavender essential oil are many. It’s well-known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antidepressant, and antiseptic properties, and like many essential oils, it’s known for being antibacterial, and antimicrobial. Along with those properties, it also has the following: antispasmodic, analgesic, decongestant, anti-viral, anti-convulsant, detoxifying, sedative, soothing, deodorant. All of these properties provide us with so many health benefits, because of all the components that make up this oil.
Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is a very mild oil with a pleasing scent and because of this it is considered to be the universal oil for almost anything that ails you. The oil has calming and relaxing properties which can help with insomnia, depression, anxiety, and restlessness. By diffusing 20 drops of lavender oil twice a day you can relieve those issues.
Here are more of the many benefits of lavender essential oil:
- Gives relief to respiratory conditions such as whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis
- Helps in the healing of wounds and burns
- For healthy hair, by helping reduce dandruff and can improve hair loss from alopecia and promote hair growth
- Relieves pain from muscle soreness, sprains, rheumatism
- Treats skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema
- Helps with digestive issues, i.e. gas, nausea, colic, abdominal cramps by stimulating the production of gastric juices and bile
- Relief for headaches because of the analgesic properties it has and has been shown to reduce pain from migraines
Uses of Lavender Essential Oil
There are several ways to use lavender oil, from aromatically to topically.
- Aromatically – When using the oil aromatically, there are several ways; by diffusing or by direct inhaling. Here are some ways to use the oil aromatically:
- For relaxation, anxiety, stress: add lavender to your diffuser before going to bed; put a few drops on a tissue and inhale (or put some in an inhaler found here); rub into the palms of your hands and inhale; put a few drops in a spray bottle with distilled water and spray mist it around the room; inhale it directly from the bottle. These are also good to relieve PMS symptoms.
- For pain in joints and muscles and for respiratory issues: add lavender oil to your diffuser and diffuse for a few hours at a time.
2. Topically – There are many ways to use lavender essential oil topically. Because lavender is such a mild oil, it can be applied directly to the skin. Here are just a few ways to use it topically:
- For acne and skin conditions: mix 2 drops of lavender to 1 tsp witch hazel, soak a cotton ball with it, and apply it to the affected area.
- For an earache: use 1 drop and apply undiluted on the outer ear.
- For muscle aches and pains: blend lavender with a carrier oil, 50:50, and massage on the afflicted area.
- For digestive issues: use 50:50 blend of carrier oil and lavender and take in a capsule once a day with food. You can also massage the blend into the lower abdomen.
- For headaches: use 1 drop and apply to temple and back of the neck, 1 drop per temple and neck.
- For minor sunburn: mix 2 drops with 1 tsp water and apply to sunburn.
- For insect bites: apply 1 drop undiluted to the bite. It will lessen the severity and swelling, as the oil is an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
- For hair health: Mix 1 drop of lavender essential oil to shampoo when showering. It helps to stimulate blood the hair follicles.
These are just a few of the many uses for lavender essential oil.
The Pharmaceutical industry uses lavender hugely for making antiseptic ointments, baby products, lotions, soaps, and, of course, for perfumes. Believe it or not, it is also used in foods and beverages.
For the majority of people, lavender is one of the mildest oils to use. However, there are those who may be allergic, so use caution if you have skin sensitivity.
Several other things to be cautious about:
Medication: If you are taking a prescription medication for depression or sleep disorders, lavender can increase the effectiveness of those medications, so be cautious. Even the effectiveness of over the counter sleep aids may be effected. It would be better not to combine those with lavender essential oil. Avoid lavender oil if you are having surgery.
Pregnancy: Women who are pregnant should be safe with lavender oil (because of it being so mild) except in the third trimester; use caution and consult with your doctor about using essential oils while pregnant.
Children: Since lavender oil is such a mild oil, children should be safe using it. There has been concern, though, that lavender could affect boys hormonally, who have not gone through puberty. It is advised for parents to use caution about using lavender frequently with children.
Internally: lavender essential oil should be safe to use internally, except for minor gastrointestinal issues. If your gastrointestinal system is sensitive, caution should be taken when using lavender oil internally.
For My Final Thoughts
Lavender essential oil, as I mentioned before, is probably the most popular of all essential oils out there. What about lavender oil? Let’s review:
If you have trouble sleeping or are stressed, diffuse some lavender oil.
It’s good for insect bites, burns, wounds, and muscle aches and pains.
Hair health is improved by using it.
Lavender essential oil has been used for over 2500 years.
With all these great benefits, I invite you to try it out and see how it works for you. I would love to hear about your experience with lavender essential oil. If you have used it or when you do use it, let me know how it worked for you. Leave me a comment below and tell me about it!
As always, thanks for reading!