Lavender: Swiss Army Knife of essential oils

Years before I studied aromatherapy, I remember seeing all the little bottles of essential oils in health food stores, and wondering what do you do with those? I had read that you could add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a bath, so I picked up a bottle and my love affair with lavender began.

The initial foray into aromatherapy can be daunting — various plants, latin names, dilutions, applications, carriers, medicinal qualities, contraindications, and the list goes on. But starting with one oil and really using it can bring all this aromatherapy terminology into context.

If I had to pick one oil and only one oil to take with me to a desert island, it would be lavender. It’s the swiss army knife of aromatherapy — incredibly versatile and applicable to so many of life’s everyday problems. And it has a herbaceous small that seems to appeal to everyone, both male and female. (I have only met one person so far who detests the smell of lavender.)

It’s a wonderful first oil to incorporate into your daily life, and can make dealing with life’s regular nuisances much more agreeable. Below are just a few simple and easy ways to use lavender essential oil.

Skin Healing
Lavender essential oil is an incredible skin healer, as evidenced by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who famously dunked his arm in a vat of lavender oil after burning it in a laboratory accident. He was amazed at how quickly his arm healed, and went on to document the incredible healing properties of essential oils. Gattefosse had discovered that lavender is a cell regenerator, making it an ideal skin treatment.

  • Use to treat minor burns, cuts, scrapes, and insect bites. Lavender is antiseptic and so prevents infection, and is also analgesic, reducing pain. Because it’s also one of the few essential oils that can be used neatly (without being diluted in a vegetable oil or other carrier) on small areas, it’s a great oil to keep in a first aid kit for on-the-fly application.
  • For a lovely sunburn relief treatment, mix 12 drops of lavender essential oil to an ounce of aloe vera gel.
  • Add a drop or two to hot water when you steam your face.
  • Mix 18 drops into an ounce of jojoba or other carrier oil to use as a facial serum. Lavender essential oil is suitable for all skin types.

Pain Relief

  • For headache relief, add 5 drops of oil to 8 oz. of water and stir to disperse. Soak a washcloth in the water, wring out, and apply to forehead and temples. A few drops of oil can also be added neat to the nape of the neck and the temples.
  • For sore, over-worked muscles, add 24 drops of lavender essential oil to an ounce of carrier oil and apply to the affected muscle. (This is a concentrated blend and should only be used to treat a small, local area.)

Lavender oil has been shown in several clinical studies to reduce anxiety. A balancing oil, lavender can exert a sedative or stimulant action depending on one’s actual needs. Lavender serves as a great mood tonic, calming frayed nerves or alleviating stress.

  • Use a few drops (8-10) in a warm bath to ease tension, and to help induce sleep.
  • A few drops on a cotton ball inside your pillowcase will help you fall asleep.
  • Inhaling lavender oil via a diffuser will have a calming effect.
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