Although now cultivated primarily in Provence, in the south of France, lavender is native to the Mediterranean. It grows in open fields and on mountain slopes, giving off an intense, spicy aroma when it blooms. The most potent medicinal form of lavender is the oil, which contains a high concentration of active ingredients. The finest oil is distilled from Lavandula officinalis, a variety of lavender that grows only at altitudes above 3000 ft. and is particularly resistant to heat and cold. The herb's flower buds are harvested by hand at midday, when the oil content is highest; the essential oil is then extracted using steam distillation. Lavender oil has many uses; it is a powerful antiseptic containing more than 200 compounds that are active against fungi, viruses and other microbes. The oil is also valued for its ability to balance the emotions. It restores vitality in people suffering from nervous exhaustion and also has a calming effect on people who are agitated or who have trouble sleeping.
To purify Indoor air
4 drops of lavender
2 drops of bergamot oil
2 drops of lemon oil
Place this mixture of essential oils in a simmer pot to help freshen the air. The oils have a powerful cleansing action. The fresh scent also exerts an uplifting effect on the mind, body and spirit. Lavender combines particularly well with citrus oil.
The best known active components in lavender oil are gerniol, cincole and coumarin. These ingredients have a strong cleansing and germicidal effect and are believed to be particularly valuable for the treatment of inflammatory conditions and pain. Lavender also brings swift relief from digestive problems and various skin irritations.
For the breasts
Lavender oil can be rubbed onto the breasts to help tone and tighten the skin. Add 2 drops of the oil to 3 tbsp. of a base oil such as sweet almond, apply to breasts daily.
Lavender oil has a calming effect and can be used to induce sleep when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Put a few drops of lavender oil on an aromatherapy stone(available in most herbal stores) and place it in your bedroom. Its soothing effects will help you sleep soundly through the night.
For skin irritations
Lavender water promotes good circulation in the skin and prevents infections of the sebaceous glands. For a facial lotion, add 3 drops of lavender oil to 1 quart of distilled water, dab on daily.
For nerve pain
Lavender oil helps to relieve pain and inflammation due to neuralgia. Mix 10 drops of the oil with 2 tbsp. of St. John's Wort oil and gently rub it into the affected areas for pain relief.
For sunburn relief
Add 10 drops of lavender oil to 4 ounces of water. Store the liquid in a plastic spray bottle and take it with you to the beach to spritz on sunburned skin as needed.
Extra Tip : For an aromatic lavender bath, use a natural emulsifier to help the oil blend well with the bathwater. Mix 5 drops of lavender oil with 1 cup of heavy cream or 1 tsp. of honey and add it to the tub.
Used to relieve nervousness, anxiety, difficulty in falling asleep, stomach aches, middle ear infections, burns, eczema, insect bites and other skin inflammations.
Take care: Lavender oil is one of the few essential oils that is safe to use "neat" or undiluted, on the skin. Keep a small bottle in your kitchen cabinet to treat first degree burns. One to two drops directly on the burn will relieve pain and reduce the risks of blisters.
For middle ear infections, saturate a cotton ball in olive oil, drip 5 drops of lavender oil onto it and place it on the outer part of the affected ear. The lavender oil will help relieve the pain and inhibit the inflammation that often accompanies ear infections.
Lavender essential oil can also be used externally to alleviate stomach aches, cramping or colic. Combine 30 drops of lavender oil, 10 drops of chamomile oil and 3 ½ oz. of cold pressed olive oil in a bottle and shake vigorously. Massage this essential oil mixture gently onto the abdomen for 10 min, using broad circular movements. Rest for a brief period and then apply a hot water bottle to the affected area for 30 mins.
Around the house
- Add several drops of lavender oil to the washer's final rinse cycle, or scent a cloth with a few drops of lavender oil and throw it in the dryer to freshen a load of newly laundered clothes.
- Place a handful of lavender buds in an old sock, knot it and store it in a drawer with your linens.