Charming fragrance is just the beginning of Lavender’s bountiful aromatherapy benefits. Likely the most popular and versatile of the essential oils, lavender has been used through the centuries as a natural antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-depressant sedative and de-toxifier. It is thought to provide both internal and emotional cleansing as the name itself implies—derived from the Latin lavare which means to wash.
Lavender was used by ancient Egyptians as well as Greeks and Romans.
Egyptians employed the vapor from steamed lavender plants as incense and perfume. Lavender flower heads were used in the communal baths of Rome both as an antiseptic and as a soothing fragrance. Medieval European herbalists exploited lavender water to treat head lice. Many of our ancestors in the Middle Ages placed small bundles of dried lavender in laundry for a fresh smell and moth deterrent, and in their beds, the aroma treated insomnia while warding off bed bugs. Queen Elizabeth I reportedly drank lavender tea to treat her frequent migraine headaches.
There are many ways to capture the benefits of lavender essential oil:
Diffuse or inhale it directly for aromatherapy.
Some experts recommend making an herbal tea by mixing 2 drops of lavender essential oil with 1 teaspoon of agave syrup or honey, and add it to a teacup of warm water, or adding a drop or two to juice, milk, or other cool to lukewarm foods.
Combine 4-5 drops of lavender oil with a bath gel base—a dab of shampoo, liquid body soap, or a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil (to slow the evaporation of lavender oil)—and use in a warm bath.
Place 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow.
Massage several drops of lavender oil into your feet which easily absorb the oil and distribute it throughout your body. You can also mix a few drops of lavender with a massage oil for an overall body massage.
And what should you use lavender oil for?
Nervous System. The calming scent of lavender oil triggers a biochemical reaction in your brain to soothe stressed out, tense nerves and to lift you from a general feeling of anxiety or depression. Lavender works so well for this that you should take care not to drive or do other jobs which require heavy concentration for a while after using it. You may become too relaxed to react quickly to problems.
Stressed out, overstimulated and overtired babies benefit amazingly from a lavender oil massage (a drop of lavender oil on their blankie or teddy bear isn’t a bad idea, either). Manufacturers of baby products like bath soap, shampoo, and lotion have begun adding lavender fragrance to their products to leverage its benefits. Just be sure — if you are willing to use a typical commercial product on your little one — that the lavender is pure essential oil and not a harmful, synthetic substitute.
Migraines and other headaches can respond well to lavender oil. Rub a drop or two on your temples if you don’t have time to indulge in a bath or a cup of tea.*
Insomnia. A couple of drops of lavender oil on your pillow will often bring on a restful sleep. You might also run lavender oil in a diffuser beside your bed.
Pain Relief. This is where you’ll want a lavender oil massage. Congestion in bodily tissues due to injury, overuse, or joint problems causes pain and sometimes swelling, but lavender oil’s anti-inflammatory qualities might help to relax and relieve sore, tense muscles, sprains, backache, and general joint pain. If you care for an elderly person, try massaging his or her aches and pains with lavender oil for a loving treat.
Urinary Problems. Lavender oil stimulates urine production, helping restore hormonal balance and reducing cystitis or inflammation of the bladder and its associated cramping. (If you have problems with recurrent urinary tract infections, check out Beeyoutiful’s Cranberry Power Cleanse to stop them in their tracks.)
Respiratory Disorders. The ancient Greeks first used lavender for respiratory and throat problems. To help sooth colds, coughs, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and even tonsillitis, diffuse lavender oil or add it to a vaporizer while applying it to your neck, chest, and back.
Skin Care. Antiseptic, antifungal ,properties make lavender oil a fragrant way to treat acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other skin disorders. You can rub it on straight, without diluting (Making sure to test for skin sensitivity first!), or add it to a healthful carrier like coconut, grape seed, or olive oil to spread it more easily. For eczema, you can try adding lavender oil to chamomile tea, and apply it to the affected area.
Burns, Sunburns, and Wounds heal more rapidly when treated with lavender oil because it promotes quick regeneration of skin cells and scar tissue. A famous story about lavender oil’s use on burns tells of French scientist Rene Gattefosse, whose lab experiment exploded, severely burning his arm. He had a vat of lavender oil at hand and plunged his charred limb into the solution. Doctors were astounded at how quickly the injury healed — and without the usual complicating infections!
Hair Care. Lavender oil is a fragrantly effective way to get rid of head lice. To overcome a serious infestation, coat hair and scalp with full-fat mayonnaise to smother as many lice as possible. Then add a few drops of lavender oil to your shampoo and wash well. It may take a couple of washings to get rid of the mayonnaise greasiness. After washing, massage lavender oil into the scalp and hair shafts. Once your hair is dry, have someone check it under a bright light or in sunlight to remove any nits still stuck onto the shafts of hair. You can repeat the treatment as often as necessary since lavender oil is non-toxic.
Blood Circulation. A regular lavender oil body massage has worked wonders in some individuals to lower high blood pressure. And lavender oil massages on the abdomen may also sooth menstrual cramping.
Feminine Disorders. For those who suffer from leucorrhea (a recurring, whitish discharge from the vagina) lavender oil is a gentle way to address this problem. Add lavender oil to your bath or use a drop or two in a squirt bottle of warm water consistently sprayed on the genital area after using the toilet. Be sure to dry thoroughly (use a hair dryer for best results). And for a stronger treatment, treat a small tampon coated in olive oil with a few drops of lavender oil and insert in the vagina (be sure to change it regularly!).
Digestion. Because lavender oil stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile, it is useful for treating indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea. This is the time when some make a cup of lavender oil tea,* as well as for aromatherapy.
Immunity. Routine use of lavender oil is thought by some to boost your resistance to diseases. For regular use, even when you have no physical or emotional complaints: Use lavender oil as a perfume by dabbing it on your pulse points. This is far preferable to synthetic fragrances which can soak in and harm your body.
Insect Control. Mosquitoes, moths, bedbugs, and such do not like the smell of lavender. If you have meal moths in your pantry, don’t spray poison! Diffuse lavender oil near the pantry or place cotton balls soaked with a few drops of lavender oil in there instead. And please don’t use standard, toxic mothballs to preserve your wool clothing! Lavender sachets or oil-saturated cotton balls (re-soaked every week or so) provide healthy, effective moth warfare instead — and it leaves a conspicuously more pleasant scent in your clothing than mothballs!
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