Lavender essential oil is one of the most commonly heard-of essential oils out there as it has many, many beneficial properties, a wide range of uses, and it's easy to come by. And let's not forget, it smells really nice too!
What is lavender essential oil?
Lavender essential oil is derived directly from lavender plants by steam distillation, and has been historically used as a natural antiseptic. It has also traditionally been used in perfumes and as natural air purifiers in potpourri for its fresh, floral scent. Lavender essential oil also makes a great natural bug deterrent for most insects.
The lavender plant most commonly comes from France, but is also found in other areas of the world.
What are the beneficial properties of lavender essential oil?
Lavender essential oil is a natural antiseptic, which means it can be used as a disinfectant, either on the body or around the house. It is also an analgesic, otherwise known as a pain killer, and has also been known to have anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties. And due to its fresh, calming scent, it is commonly used as a deodorant and sedative.
How can lavender essential oil be used on the human body?
Commonly, lavender essential oil is used in aromatherapy; diffused into the air to create a calming, soothing scent that calms the nerves, and/or used with a carrier oil for massages. The aroma of lavenders has been said to help those who have trouble sleeping, as the smell helps relax the body. There have also been reports that the unpleasant symptoms experienced by those with congestion and respiratory problems have been alleviated by applying lavender essential oil to the chest and throat. Meanwhile, some claim lavender essential oil can also help alleviate pain in the joints and migraines.
The anti-bacterial properties of lavender essential oil means that it can also help those who suffer from acne. The oil naturally kills off acne-causing bacteria on the skin, helping skin remain clear, while the anti-inflammatory properties help reduce swelling and infected blemishes. Use of lavender essential oil to help skin conditions also extends to small wounds, burns and insect bites — basically anything where inflammation of the skin needs to be alleviated.
The fact that lavender essential oil is also a natural bug deterrent means it can be used as a natural bug repellent, and even help cure lice and lice eggs and nits on the scalp.
This particular essential oil can be diffused into the air, applied directly, or mixed into carrier oils and creams or lotions.
What are other uses of lavender essential oil?
You can easily find a few satchels or pieces of cloth and scent them with a few drops of lavender essential oil, then place them in drawers or corners of the house to keep your home smelling fresh. And added bonus is that as most insects generally dislike the smell of lavender essential oil, you can also keep your house bug-free this way.
I personally also keep a spray bottle of lavender essential oil diluted in some water or vodka at home and at my desk at work to spray and wipe down surfaces when I want to do some quick cleaning.
What are the dangers of lavender essential oil?
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or you're have any other underlying illness or condition, such as diabetes, it isn't recommended that you use lavender essential oil. If you're not sure if you can safely use lavender essential oil, ask your physician. It is also not a good idea to use too much lavender essential oil. Everything in moderation is the key.
I'd like to take this opportunity to also debunk a myth. Awhile back, this report was circulating the web, saying that lavender essential oil mimics estrogen hormones and was actually causing little boys to develop breasts. But upon careful reading, you'll see that it was actually a very poorly conducted study based on a sample of only THREE young boys, and that the study itself did not mention the purity of the lavender essential oil in the products, nor did it take into account other chemicals that were used in the study that may have been the ones mimicking estrogen.
This isn't to say that lavender essential oil absolutely does not mimic estrogen, but so far there have been no further studies supporting these findings with any concrete data, according to the American College of Healthcare Services. And according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, there has never been any proof, period.
So believe what you will. It does bear consideration though, that lavender essential oil is one of the most commonly used oils found in household products the world over, and so far there has not been an epidemic of little boys growing boobies.
Can I ingest lavender essential oil?
Some say it is perfectly safe to ingest small doses of lavender essential oil in order to enhance the flavor of food or to more fully absorb its benefits. However, as a general rule, I never ingest essential oils. I previously mentioned that many companies advertise their essential oils as being 100% pure even when their oils do contain other dangerous toxins or chemicals. If I absolutely had to ingest lavender essential oil, I would make sure to only use one that has a food label you would find on the packaging of other common food items.
If you really want to try putting some lavender essential oil into your tea or food, then remember to do thorough research on where you're getting your oil from before using it. Also, keep in mind that even if lavender essential oil is completely pure, it can still cause problems internally on its own and make you incredibly sick if your body can't handle it. Use your best judgment.
Can I use lavender essential oil on my pets?
NO. I am very adamant about never using essential oils on animals. They have very different systems than humans do and can have very severe reactions to such oils. Stay on the safe side, and don't put essential oils on Fluffy or Fido.