Lavender essential oil: The essential oil collection [Oils101]

Our sense of smell is strongly connected to our emotions and memories as our scent receptors are located next to the emotional centres in our brain, the amygdala and hippocampus. That is one of the reasons why aromatherapy is so powerful – using oils can trigger the body’s own healing process to begin, as well as soothe and calm your mind to actually allow the process to take place.  Essential oils can also interact with certain hormones, neurotransmitters, or enzymes, resulting in a specific change to our bodies’ chemistry. Oils are powerful, and they have little or no side effects.

Lavender Essential Oil

One of the most popular oils in the world, lavender essential oil is widely used. Although immensely common today, it was actually discovered only 2 500 years ago. The list of benefits include being an antioxidant and an antimicrobial, having sedating, calming and anti-depressive properties, and is used both cosmetically and therapeutically.

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The Egyptians used the oil for mummification as well as perfume. The Romans used lavender oil for bathing, cooking and purifying the air. And in the Bible, lavender oil was among the aromatics used for anointing and healing.

The oil itself has a beautiful, fresh aroma. It is the perfect oil to have in your first-aid kit since it is such an all-rounder – antibacterial, calming, soothing, and a great pain reliever. Plus, it is one of the safest oils to use, even being dog friendly! The scent is floral, but can adapt its characteristics depending on what you blend with it, making it perfect for use in both men’s as well as women’s fragrances. Although it is widely used for its calming abilities, if you overdo it the oil can act as a stimulant!

Today, lavender oil benefits for your body include the following:

·         Reduce anxiety and stress

·         Protect against diabetes symptoms

·         Improve brain function

·         Help to heal burns and wounds

·         Improve sleep

·         Restore skin complexion and reduce acne

·         Slow aging with powerful antioxidants

·         Relieve pain

·         Alleviate headaches

Because lavender oil contains such versatile properties and is gentle enough to apply directly to the skin, it is a definite must-have oil, especially if you have kids. The research that has thus far been done proofs the efficacy of the oil, with more research being done on the range of health benefits that lavender essential oil contains.

 [Refer to the safety information mentioned below.]

Botanical name

Lavandula angustifolia / Lavandula officinalis

Common method of extraction

Steam distilled

Plant part typically used

Leaves and flowers/buds

Colour

Clear with a tinge of yellow

Consistency

Thin

Perfumery note

Top/Middle

Strength of initial aroma

Medium

Aromatic description

Lavender Oil is floral, fresh, sweet, herbaceous and sometimes slightly fruity. It can be slightly camphorous and can over-power other scents if not used balanced.

Essential oil uses

1. Powerful antioxidant

Free radicals are responsible for aging, as well as compromising your immune system. The body’s natural response to free radical damage is to create antioxidant enzymes to try and prevent these free radicals from doing their damage. Unfortunately, your body can actually become deficient in antioxidants if the free radical burden is great enough, which has globally become relatively common because of our poor diets, mostly inactive lifestyles and high exposure to stress and environmental toxins. Lavender essential oil is a natural antioxidant that works to prevent and reverse the damage caused by free radicals. A 2013 study published in Phytomedicine found that lavender oil increased the activity of the body’s most powerful antioxidants — glutathione, catalase and SOD. And more recent studies have indicated similar results, concluding that lavender has antioxidant activity that helps to prevent or reverse oxidative stress.

2. Lowers blood sugar levels (used as supportive treatment of diabetes)

Lavender essential oil protects the body from increased blood glucose (the hallmark of diabetes) and can also help fight of metabolic disorders (especially fat metabolism), weight gain, liver and kidney antioxidant depletion, liver and kidney dysfunction, and liver and kidney lipoperoxidation.

3. Mood enhancer and stress reliever

The oil can be used to treat neurological issues like migraines, stress, anxiety and depression. In 2013, an evidence-based study published by the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice found that supplementing with 80 milligram capsules of lavender essential oil alleviates anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression. Additionally, in the study there were no adverse side effects, drug interactions or withdrawal symptoms from using lavender oil. Lavender oil has also been shown to improve PTSD symptoms. 80 milligrams of lavender oil per day helped decrease depression by 33 percent and dramatically decrease sleep disturbances, moodiness, and overall health status in 47 people suffering from PTSD. To relieve stress and improve sleep, spray the oil on your pillow and sheets, or diffuse the oil in the family room while you’re winding down before bed.  You can also apply lavender oil topically behind your ears for the same benefits.

4. Supports brain function

Research has shown that lavender oil is effective as a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Studies conducted on rats show that inhaling lavender essential oil can help to prevent brain oxidative stress and improve cognitive impairment. To support the nervous system, diffuse the oil, inhale it directly from the bottle or apply it topically to your temples and the back of your neck.

5. Burns and cuts care

Research shows that lavender oil speeds the healing of burns, cuts, scrapes and wounds — and a big part of this is because of its antimicrobial compounds. It also fights the possible infections. A 2016 study conducted on rats found that lavender oil promoted wound healing in the early phase by accelerating the formation of granulation tissue (tissue from the healing surface of the skin) and promoting collagen synthesis. Researchers found that a 1:1 ratio of lavender oil mixed with other essential oils, like clove, cinnamon and tea tree, was found to be effective in the fight against Candida albicans and Staph aureus — two common causes of many fungal and bacterial infections that can lead to pneumonia and skin funguses. For burn relief and to heal cuts, scrapes or wounds, mix 3–5 drops of lavender oil with 5ml of coconut oil and apply the mixture to the area of concern.

6. Healthy hair and skin

Using lavender oil diffused in a carrier oil topically can help to improve a number of skin conditions, including allergic reactions, acne and age spots. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help to ease skin conditions and reverse signs of aging. Studies also show that lavender oil, along with other essential oils like thyme, rosemary and cedarwood, can significantly improve alopecia areata and hair loss when massaged into the scalp daily. To use lavender oil for skin health, combine 3–4 drops with 5ml of coconut or jojoba oil and massage the mixture into the area of concern. You can also add lavender oil to your face or body wash.

7. Relieves Headaches

Lavender essential oil is one of the best essential oils for headaches. Diffuse the oil in coconut oil then rub the mixture into the back of the neck and the temples. Diffusing the oil or inhaling it directly from the bottle can also help to relieve headaches and lessen migraines.

8. Treats insomnia and improves sleep

Research has shown that inhaling lavender oil reduces sleep disturbance, improves quality and duration of sleep, fights insomnia and improves overall well-being. All without any unwanted side effects. To improve your quality of sleep, diffuse lavender oil in your bedroom before or during sleep. Also, you can rub 3–5 drops directly on your neck, chest and temples, or add lavender to your bath water for a relaxing bath. Mix 15 drops of lavender oil with 1 cup of Epsom salts add to your bath.

9. Relieves Pain

Several studies have found that lavender oil helps as a natural painkiller. Simply rubbing lavender into the area of concern can reduce inflammation and pain intensity, helping to alleviate the symptoms of many health conditions. The results of a recent study suggest that lavender oil can be used as a natural remedy for PMS and menstrual cramps.

10. Cancer treatment (complimentary treatment)

A 2012 study published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines found that using lavender oil helps cancer patients cope with stress, decrease nausea, and treat chronic pain and depression. Using lavender oil topically on the back of your neck, chest, wrists and temples can induce calm. For muscle or joint pain, or pain at the site of injections, apply 2–3 drops of lavender to the affected area. To relieve stress and decrease anxiety, and improve sleep, diffuse lavender or inhale it directly from the bottle. This can be particularly useful before and after surgical procedures and chemotherapy treatment.

11. Perfume

Lavender oil is a great unisex scent. You can apply the pure oil directly to your skin, or you can dilute oil with a carrier oil for a more subtle scent.

12. Air freshener

In a vaporiser, mix lavender essential oil with water and spray around your home or use the oil in your diffuser.

13. Nausea fighter

If you are feeling nauseous, or know that you are going to be traveling in a car of plane and are prone to motion sickness, spray some lavender oil on your skin and clothes, inhale the scent directly or rub it into your temples, neck and palms.

14. Flavour booster in baking and cooking

You can add 100% pure grade lavender oil to food products such as tea, dressings, batters and icings. The flavour pairs especially well with dark chocolate, lemon, honey, balsamic vinaigrette, black pepper and apples.

Major constituents

·         Linalyl acetate (14.2%)

·         Geraniol (5.3%)

·         Linalool (30.6%)

·         Perillyl alcohol

·         (Z)-B-Ocimene

·         Camphor

·         limonene

·         Lavandulyl acetate (4.4%)

·         Terpinene-4-ol

·         B-Caryophyllene (4.7%)

·         (E)-B-Farnesene

·         (E)-B-Ocimene

·         3-Octanyl acetate

·         Tannins

·         Triterpenes

·         Flavonoids

Blending tips

Blends particularly well with citrus and floral scents, as well as woodsy scents. For a quick perfume, mix together lavender with ylang ylang and vanilla. For a more manly version, lavender with thyme, orange and cedarwood.

Tips on using this essential oil safely

When buying lavender essential oil, make sure you are buying from a high-quality brand that is therapeutic grade and that is organic, so it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals. This is especially important if you are planning to use it topically.

Medication Interactions: If you are already taking any prescription medication for sleep-related disorders or for depression, be cautious of the fact that lavender can increase the effectiveness of these medications. Even if you use an over-the-counter sleep aid or any type of sedatives (even cough or flu medicine), keep in mind that lavender makes many people sleepy and even somewhat drowsy, so it’s best to not combine lavender oil with other medications or sleep-related supplements. Exercise extreme caution if you are undergoing surgery – the oil can interact with the anaesthesia. Never use any oil without consulting with your doctor first.  

Pregnant Women: Lavender oil is generally considered safe for women who are pregnant and nursing, but check with your doctor first. Because it can have a relaxing effect on muscles and can also effect hormone levels, use lavender with caution in your third trimester.

Children: Lavender oil is considered generally safe for children to use, although there is some concern that lavender’s effect on hormone levels could be harmful for boys who have not yet gone through puberty. Although there isn’t strong evidence for lavender being a hormone disrupter (only 1–2 very small studies were ever completed), parents are told to use caution if using lavender oil frequently on young children.

Ingesting: A 2013 evidence-based article highlighted that lavender can be ingested at a dosage of 80 to 160 mg without adverse effects, except for minor gastrointestinal symptoms. To avoid gastrointestinal irritation, keep internal use to a minimum and be careful if you have a sensitive digestive system. At this time there are no known food interactions.

 

General safety information

Because essential oils are highly concentrated they should always be used with caution. Essential oils should not be used undiluted, and should never be applied to the eyes or mucous membranes. Toxicity can occur if too much of the oil is absorbed, hence always dilute. A skin patch test is always recommended prior to using any new essential oil, or after first time use after a long break. Although most essential oils have been proven by science to work as efficiently, or even more, as allopathic drugs, they are not a substitute for medical care. Chronic conditions should not be self-treated, and you should never avoid or delay getting standard medical care. Always consult with your doctor first. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their doctor before using any natural or alternative treatment, and also speak to your doctor first before using oils on your kids. People who are epileptic, have liver damage or issues, have cancer, are diabetic, or have any other medical problem, or who suspect they might have any of these conditions, should definitely consult with their doctor first.

 

Shelf life and care

Although pure essential oils do not go rancid, they do gradually lose their therapeutic value and aroma as a result of oxidation. The lifespan varies according to the botanical, distillation process, storage and care as well as manufacturer and supplier. To maximize the shelf life, store the oils in dark glass bottles, tightly closed, in a cool and dry place. Keep out of the sun. If the aroma, thickness or colour has changed, discard.

 

Important information about essential oils

The essential oil information provided on A life lead simply is intended for educational purposes only. The references to safety information, constituents and percentages is generalized information. The data is not necessary complete and is not guaranteed to be accurate. The essential oil photos are intended to represent the typical and approximate colour of each essential oil. However, essential oil colour can vary based on harvesting, distillation, age of the essential oil and other factors.

Essential oil book suggestions

Wilson, R. 2002. Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty. This book covers the extraction of Essential oils.

Lawless, J. 2013. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health and Well Being. San Francisco: Conari Press.