Aromatherapy Lavender

LAVANDULA OFFICINALIS

Lavenders belong to a genus of as many as 39 species of blossoming plants in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is generally believed that this genus is native to Asia, but over the centuries, it has been introduced in several regions, including the Mediterranean, Africa, Arabia, India and Western Iran. Lavenders include a variety of plants that may be perennial, subshrubs, small shrubs and even herbaceous plants. Usually, the cultivars are grown in gardens across the globe, but several varieties are also found growing naturally in open spaces. Plants belonging to this genus are able to cross-pollinate without much effort and, hence, you may come across numerous variations within the same species.

While some of the species belonging to this genus produce long and slender leaves, other may have pointed, jagged and occasionally dissected leaves. Lavenders bear flowers in whorls and they are supported by spikes that rise above the shrubbery. The blooms of lavender may vary in hue – violet, blue or lilac. The essential oil of lavender, which is extensively used in aromatherapy, is obtained by distilling the fragrant floral spikes of a number of lavender species.

Lavender essential oil is highly valued by people around the world for its multi-purpose utility. This natural oil is mostly used in aromatherapy owing to its assorted properties. In fact, if you are given the option to buy only one essential oil, you ought to purchase lavender essential oil. Almost all the parts of the lavender plant are fragrant and, hence, its oil may be obtained by distilling the leaves, blossoms and even the stems of this species.

Going through the pages of history, you will find that lavender and the essential oil obtained from it has been in use since times immemorial. In fact, different ancient cultures of the world valued and used it aromatic natural oil for several purposes. While the Romans are known to have bathed in water mixed with lavender essential oil, in Egypt, the Pharaohs used this genuine essential oil as a perfume. On the other hand, people in England used lavender essential oil to add fragrance to their linen boxes as well as an effective pest control. Since lavender essential oil has the aptitude to easily blend with several other essential oils, it has always been the preferred natural oil while manufacturing cosmetics and perfumes.

The essential oil obtained by distilling the fragrant flowers, leaves and stems of the plant possesses several therapeutic properties and is especially useful for treating skin irritations because it has the ability to promote quick and smooth healing of the cells of the harmed or damaged skin. This natural oil of lavender is an excellent remedy for treating skin conditions, such as sunburn. In addition, it is also very beneficial to skin care as it generally suits almost all types of skin. This oil may also be used to treat other skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, burns, wounds, abscesses, ulcers and cuts.

For ages, lavender essential oil has been traditionally used for different remedial purposes. In fact, the list of therapeutic benefits of this natural oil is not only very long but also varied. While it is beneficial for treating respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis and colds, it is also an effective analgesic and widely used for getting relief from muscle spasms and rheumatic pains. At the same time, lavender essential oil helps in regulating blood pressure and is used as a tranquilizer for disorders of the central nervous system. In addition, the lavender oil is also effective in providing relief from headaches, tension, nervous anxiety and treating gentle depression as well as insomnia. It is also wonderful natural oil for baths and its pleasing aroma makes lavender essential oil excellent for use in air fresheners or potpourris. Add a few drops of this oil on a tissue paper and inhale its exquisite aroma; it will act as an instant refreshment of the body and mind. Unlike many other essential oils, lavender may be applied ‘neat’ or in an undiluted state on the skin and this is considered to be one of the major advantages of using this natural oil.

Over the centuries, the classic floral or herbal aroma of lavender essential oil has been a prized item for people who used it as a washing herb. Its usage for this purpose has scented and refreshed numerous bed linens over the ages. The herb owes its name to the Latin term ‘lavare’ that literally translated into English denotes ‘to wash’.

It may be mentioned here that genuine lavender essential oil is obtained from several species of lavender and, hence, the quality and aroma of this oil varies depending on the type of lavender it has been extracted from.

As mentioned earlier, lavender essential oil possesses numerous therapeutic benefits and is, hence, used for treating several medical conditions. Below is a brief discussion of the condition specific benefits of this fragrant natural oil used extensively in aromatherapy today. Hope you find it useful and interesting.

  • The essential oil obtained by distilling the fragrant flowers, stems, and leaves of the herb possesses a soothing aroma which works as an effective stimulant for the nerves. Owing to this characteristic of lavender essential oil it is beneficial in healing headaches, nervous anxiety, migraines, depression, and tension of the nerves as well as emotional stress. The revitalizing scent of lavender essential oil facilitates in eliminating exhaustion of the nerves as well as restiveness. At the same time, this natural aromatic oil helps in enhancing cerebral activities – promote memory and bring in the clarity of thoughts.
  • Lavender essential oil is a wonderful cure for a variety of aches and pains associated with throbbing muscles, rheumatism, tense muscles, muscular aches, sprains as well as a backache and lumbago (pain in the lower or lumbar region of the back or loins). This is primarily attributed to the analgesic property of the oil. If you use this natural oil for the massage on a regular basis, it will help to provide you relief from muscle and joint pains.
  • The oil of lavender also possesses sedative or tranquilizing properties and, hence, the use of this natural oil helps to promote sleep and treat insomnia. Therefore, it is natural that herbalists around the world recommend this natural oil for treating sleeplessness.
  • Lavender essential oil also possesses mild diuretic properties and hence is effective in treating urinary problems. Using this natural oil not only stimulates urination but also ensures that the body does not retain unnecessary water/ fluids. This action of lavender oil helps the body to get rid of toxins, waste materials and also reduce weight. Additionally, this aromatic oil helps to regulate the blood pressure. The diuretic attribute of lavender essential oil also helps to sustain the hormonal balance and diminish cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder). It is also beneficial for treating cramps of any type.
  • The essential oil obtained by distilling the fragrant leaves, flowers, and stems of the lavender plant is known to be effective for hair care. Besides nourishing the hair, promoting hair growth and keeping its shine, using lavender essential oil facilitates in getting rid of lice, nits or eggs of lice.
  • The essential oil of lavender is widely used to treat numerous respiratory problems, such as flu, cough, throat contagions, cold, sinus congestion, asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, whooping cough as well as tonsillitis. In aromatherapy, lavender essential oil is used as a vapor for inhalation or applied topically on the skin, especially on the back, chest, and neck. In addition, this aromatic natural oil is also applied using several types of inhalers and vaporizers to treat conditions like colds and coughs.
  • Lavender oil offers several benefits for the skin and this is attributed to the anti-fungal and antiseptic properties of this natural oil. As aforementioned lavender essential oil is recommended for treating a number of skin disorders, including wrinkles and psoriasis (an inflammatory skin disease distinguished by scaly patches) as well as other skin inflammations. In addition, this natural oil is also beneficial in rapidly healing cuts, wounds, burns, and sunburns since it facilitates the formation of scar tissues. To treat conditions like eczema, lavender essential oil is blended with chamomile essential oil and applied on the affected skin area.
  • Lavender oil is also beneficial for the circulatory system as its use helps to promote blood circulation throughout the body. In addition, it is very useful for people suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension since it helps to lower blood pressure.
  • The essential oil obtained from the aromatic parts of the lavender plant is also stomachic and it helps in improving digestion as well as in enhancing the mobility of the intestines. Using lavender essential oil also promotes production and secretion of digestive juices and bile and, thereby helps in curing indigestion, colic (paroxysmal pain in the abdomen or bowels), stomach aches, flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Lavender essential oil is also known to strengthen the immune system and people who use this oil on a regular basis are able to resist several diseases.

The essential oil of lavender also possesses several other health benefits and is especially effective in the treatment of leucorrhoea (a whitish or yellowish mucous discharge from the vagina indicating some kind of infection). In addition, this aromatic natural oil is also effective in treating insect bites and is often used to repel moths and mosquitoes. In fact, several insect repellents available on the market contain lavender essential oil as an important ingredient.

HEALTH BENEFITS:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antiseptic
  • antispasmodic
  • balancing
  • carminative
  • circulatory
  • detoxifying
  • diuretic
  • relaxing
  • stimulant
  • stomachic
  • tonic
  • uplifting
  • vulnerary

BLENDS WELL WITH:

  • eucalyptus
  • geranium
  • jasmine
  • lemon
  • orange
  • rose
  • ylang-ylang

THERAPEUTIC USE:

  • aging / mature skin
  • allergy
  • anal fistula
  • anorexia
  • arthritis
  • athlete’s foot
  • boils and carbuncles
  • bronchitis
  • bruises
  • burns
  • catarrh
  • chilblains
  • childbirth
  • circulatory problems
  • colds and flu
  • cold sores
  • colic
  • colitis
  • coughs
  • cystitis
  • depression
  • dermatitis
  • digestive disorders
  • diarrhea
  • earache
  • enuresis
  • exhaustion
  • fainting and vertigo
  • fast breath
  • fever
  • fibrositis
  • flatulence
  • fluid retention
  • glandular fever
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • high blood pressure
  • hysteria and panic
  • immune system
  • inflammation
  • insomnia
  • liver
  • menopause
  • migraine
  • mood swings
  • motion sickness
  • myalgic encephalomyelitis
  • nausea and vomiting
  • oily and open pores
  • oversensitivity
  • pains
  • palpitations
  • premenstrual tension and other menstrual problems
  • psoriasis
  • rejuvenation
  • rheumatism
  • rhinitis
  • irritability
  • scabies
  • shortness of breath
  • sinusitis
  • sprains and strains
  • stiffness
  • stomach pains
  • sunburn
  • throat infection
  • tonsillitis
  • thrush
  • ulcers
  • urination (difficulty of)
  • whooping cough

PRECAUTIONS:

Despite being multi-purpose oil that has widespread use in aromatherapy, one ought to exercise certain cautions before using lavender essential oil for therapeutic purposes. Using this oil obtained by distilling the leaves, flowers and even stems of the lavender plant may result in miscarriage or forced abortion. Hence, pregnant women should be careful to keep off this valuable essential oil during the initial four months of their pregnancy. In addition, patients undergoing chemotherapeutic treatments of any type of cancer should also never use this natural aromatic oil.

Like in the case of several other essential oils, nursing mothers and women who are breastfeeding their infants should also never use lavender essential oil as it may pass on to the breast milk and prove to be detrimental to the infant’s health. People suffering from diabetes are also advised to keep off this essential oil. Moreover, lavender essential oil has the potential to cause allergic reactions among people with sensitive skin and, hence, they too need to avoid using this natural oil. Using lavender essential oil may result in adverse after-effects, such as vomiting, nausea, and headaches in some people. Therefore, it is advisable that this oil should be used only after consulting any professional familiar with the use of essential oils and with great caution.

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