Interest and motivation for creating a completely ‘green’ household is on the rise as awareness grows of the many potential hazards in the synthetic chemicals found in our modern lifestyles. Here are a few tips on going green by going ‘purple’, with the extremely versatile essential oil of Lavender. The flowering, fragrant purple tops of Lavender yield an essential oil that’s inexpensive, and has diverse uses for your family’s health and wellness. In many cases, Lavender can replace synthetic formulations that you just might not feel comfortable with for long-term use — as you have little idea what the ingredients really are, if you are even able to pronounce them. So what can this wonder oil do? Let’s have a look at some of its most common, simple to use applications.
The overall action of Lavender oil is both calming and regenerating. It’s a profound effect, as our bodies need to be relieved of stress in order to heal, and lead healthy lives in general. The sweet smell alone bestows calm on folks of all ages; from the little ones all wound up when it’s time for bed, to the wizened generation whom may be recovering from illness or loss. It has done the same for lab rats, hamsters and mice in many university studies. And this effect may be the most simple to produce, too. For personal use, you only need to inhale deeply from a bottle, or dab a couple drops on your wrists to get a little whiff of the scent now and then. There are several styles of essential oil diffusers available which release aroma into the air. Almost every one will work for stress reduction; it just takes a hint of Lavender in the air to have its effect.
Another favorite stress reduction technique is the Lavender bath: just add 20-30 drops of Lavender to an already drawn bath for a soak. If one needs to unwind before they make it home from work, small diffusers are available that plug into the cigarette lighter of a car. A few drops placed on the pad can really go a long way to relieving the tensions of the day while still in the evening commute!
Associated with its calming effect is Lavender’s ability to improve sleep. One headline proclaimed ‘Lavender Beats Valium’ in sleep studies. If you or your children have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, Lavender can be a profoundly effective home remedy. For a really simple method, sprinkle just a drop or two (really just a litt1e as too much can actually be a stimulant for some folks) on the bed sheet, on-top-of, or under the pillow before bed. It’s especially nice to fall asleep to a hint of Lavender, and catch another whiff if one wakes again in the middle of the night. For some, it works well to utilize a diffuser set to run on low all night long, or one on a timer that cycles on for a minute or two every hour. Think about how the scent is relaxing your whole body; using lavender regularly this way may continually improve the aroma’s effectiveness as a sleep aid over time.
Lavender essential oil is a surprisingly effective wound healer. We sometimes think a product needs to be more medicinal smelling, or sting at least a little bit to work, but it was actually Lavender that began the modern ‘medicinal’ aromatherapy revolution. Dr. Rena Maurice Gattafosse, a French scientist, burned his hand in a laboratory accident; he thrust it immediately into the closest vat of liquid, which happened to be filled with Lavender essential oil. He recovered from his injury so quickly that he was inspired to write the first book on the medical use of essential oils, coining the term ‘Aromatherapy’ as the title.
As you can guess, Lavender works exceptionally well on burns. It can be used neat, undiluted, on any burn where the skin is unbroken; it will bring quick pain relief and speed healing. Lavender is considered anti-septic, anti-inflammatory and regenerative, so virtually all cuts, bruises and scrapes will also respond well. You can use in combination with Helichrysum for burns and bruises (Helichrysum is a powerful anti-inflammatory/regenerative/pain reliever as well), or with Tea Tree for a stronger, yet still soothing anti-bacterial formula (a 50/50 mix of Lavender and Tea Tree can replace any sort of topical anti-bacterial formula used under band-aids and small dressings). Lavender can work well on a sunburn, at a 10% dilution in water dabbed over the area. A drop of lavender on a bug bite or sting is also highly effective, and is useful for many itchy and irritated skin conditions as well.
Lavender’s antiseptic properties make it an excellent natural household disinfectant. Sprinkle baking soda and Lavender in place of chlorine-based cleansers and scrub away! Add a little lemon essential oil too for greater potency, and a very uplifting scent. Lavender and Lemon can be added to a bucket of water (use about 30 drops of each) for larger surfaces and floors.
Getting a nice, sweet Lavender essential oil is important when using it for stress reduction and as a sleep aid. Some Lavender’s are labeled ‘high-elevation’; this is because the plant produces a higher concentration of the more floral components of the oil when grown in mountainous regions. The most lovely aromatically are typically from France — these oils might be higher-priced, but are worth it for these uses, especially as you only need a little at a time. If buying the oil for antiseptic and anti-inflammation, a medium quality oil can be acceptable. Looking for a real bargain is likely to be counterproductive, as a mass-produced poor quality oil will not have the same stress-relieving therapeutic effects no matter how much you use. The finer the oil, the less you’re likely to need in any application — and the more likely you and your family will make a lifelong friend with Lavender.
Misty is a consultant to the therapeutic blending of essential oils at The Ananda Apothecary. She is exceptionally fond of Lavender essential oil, a staple in aromatherapy for its well-loved aroma and broad range of effects.
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