If you are looking to add just one essential oil to your life, lavender is an excellent choice. Not only is the aroma sweet, herbal and inviting, this multifaceted oil has a wide array of uses. In fact, once you get used to having a high-quality lavender oil available, you may start to wonder how and why you ever lived without it.
The essence of lavender has been used since ancient times for its ability to instill calm, to lift the spirits, and for many other purposes. Its use dates back over 2,500 years. The ancient Greeks used lavender medicinally to treat many conditions, including mental imbalances, sleep disorders and pain. In Medieval Europe, lavender was grown for the purposes of warding off illness.
One of the primary reasons that lavender is a perfect “go to” oil is that along with being potent, it is also incredibly gentle. It is one of the very few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin of healthy adults, without the necessity for dilution in a base oil. This oil is even gentle enough to be used topically on children over the age of 2 (diluted in a base oil such as organic coconut oil) – however, check with a health professional before doing this, just to be sure it is safe for your child’s individual state of health.
Lavender is considered an adaptogen, which is why it has the unique effect of both relaxing and energizing. Its adaptogenic nature means that it can balance the body’s systems. When used in massage or aromatherapy, it may help to relieve stress and act as a mild sedative, helping alleviate depression, or shake off a case of fatigue.
Soothe stress and anxiety
After a long day at work, there is nothing quite like a massage or a meditation session with lavender oil to help you unwind and get centered. In the case of anxiety, some research has backed up the traditional use of lavender as an anti-anxiety elixir.
A study performed at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria found that lavender oil capsules, taken internally, worked better than Ativan, a common anti-anxiety medication, for relieving anxiety symptoms. If you struggle with anxiety and want to give internal lavender oil a try, talk to a natural health professional to determine how much is right for you, and to find a high-quality, food grade oil for your needs.
Lavender is a time-tested way to help improve sleep quality and has been traditionally used to relieve insomnia for centuries. In Germany, lavender flower tea is an approved treatment for restlessness and insomnia. Aromatherapy or massage with lavender essential oil, or diffusing it throughout your bedroom, may all help you to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.
You may also choose to dab a drop or two of lavender essential oil on a washcloth, and throw it in the dryer when you are drying sheets and pillowcases. This may help the whole family enjoy a more peaceful night’s sleep.
Relieve pain and soothe skin conditions
A topical application of lavender essential oil may help to ease muscle and joint pain. Applying it to your temples may also help to relieve a nasty headache.
This oil has also been used to soothe an array of skin conditions, including eczema, acne, insect bites, minor burns, and rashes. It has also been found to possess notable anti-fungal qualities, helping to quell nail infections. Lavender may also be used to clean minor wounds.
Lavender essential oil can be used in a simple home dandruff remedy. Wet your hair with warm water and pat dry with a towel. Combine two tablespoons of olive oil and approximately 15 drops of lavender essential oil in a small pot, and heat on low until just warm. Massage the mixture into your scalp, wait an hour, then wash hair with a natural shampoo.
Find relief from allergy symptoms
If you have poor indoor air quality and are having trouble with indoor allergens, adding lavender essential oil to a diffuser and diffusing around your home may help.
For both indoor and outdoor allergy symptoms, try an herbal steam. Simply add a few drops of lavender oil to a pot of steaming water, bring your head up close – being careful not to burn yourself, and cover with a towel. Breathe deeply and relax.
Diffusing lavender essential oil in your home can discourage insects from hanging around – they are repelled by it. Applying some to your skin can also offer mild protection from the pesky buzzing critters.
Note: When choosing a lavender oil, make sure to choose a high quality, therapeutic or food grade essential oil; there are many imposters on the market, and some contain chemical additives. For guidance as to choosing a good oil, talk to a natural health professional you trust. If you are pregnant, talk to a health professional before using lavender, just to be safe.