How Do You Use Lavender Essential Oil?
The name lavender comes from the Latin name Laver meaning to wash and at the turn of the first Millennium most bath houses would have been using lavender to refresh their patrons from the warm sun, and to relax them from the hustle and bustle of Roman life.
Many things have changed over that two thousand years, but throughout the years the purple flower has remained one of the most soothing medicines nature has to offer. It is easy to overlook her charms in favor of more exotic elixirs, but science now shows us that its power to relax is unsurpassed.
What Is Lavender Essential Oil Used For?
- Relaxing mind and body
- Soothing upset and irritated emotions as well as pain
Just those simple sentences are the crux for aromatherapy. That if we can relax the mind, then neurotransmitters follow suit and physical pain reduces too. In addition though, lavender essential oil is also analgesic, so it calms pain too.
It also supports healthy skin repair and reduces sebum production.
Lavender Essential Oil for Anxiety
One of my favorite experiments done in essential oils was one with lavender oil on patients suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder. These poor souls are terrified of speaking on the phone or even leaving the house and life is an enormous and distressing challenge for them. In a 2002 trial by University of Miami School of Medicine 39 patients were given lavender essential oil to inhale to assess how it might affect their brain activity.
Treatment for SAD is assessed by a series of brain scans called “Resting EEG”; as they begin to respond to treatment the changes in neural activity display as lights in the scan. After inhaling lavender, each scan lit the left hand side of the brain showing they were experiencing more openness to the world and felt less depressed.
Likewise, in 2012, scientists is Thailand proved that when people inhaled lavender, their heart rate, blood pressure slowed and their skin temperature dropped slightly too. Scans also showed their brain activity had altered with relaxed alpha and theta brainwaves taking precedence over the more alert beta brainwaves. Participants reported feeling more open and refreshed after using the oil.
How to Use Lavender Essential Oil for Anxiety
Essential oils have two modes of action: via inhalation to the brain and lungs, and through the skin into the blood stream. Both ways are relaxing and effective here. Use five drops in the bath or in a massage oil, or use in aroma pendants and diffusers.
Lavender oil for pain
If it moans, groans, creaks, burns, gripes, stings, cramps, spasms, twinges, strains, pounds, smarts or throbs (I know, I know, you can think of more!) get in the bath with some lavender oil. Add three drops of essential oil into massage oils and ointments to continually soothe the pain. Lavender makes the perfect salve.
Lavender Essential Oil for Sleep
Animal experiments show rats go to sleep faster and sleep for longer when exposed to lavender oil. This echoes what people have found using lavender over many centuries.
How to Use Lavender Essential Oil for Sleep
Theoretically a drop of essential oil on the pillow should lull you to sleep, and it does, but it can also be quite nauseous being that close to an essential oil for long periods of time. I find it more effective to build lavender oil into a sleep routine. Use lavender in a diffuser when you come home from work to help with your mind off and calm you ready for bed.
Add five drops to your bath water and soak for at least twenty minutes to give the oils time to permeate through the skin and into the blood stream. Meanwhile, vapors from the bath immediately carry soothing molecules to the brain.
Add one drop of oil and add it into your pillowcase under the pillow itself.
Lavender Essential Oil for Baby Sleep
Ok let’s bust some aroma-crap!
Imagine being a new baby who navigates the world via their sense of smell. They recognize mum by her smell, and it comforts them, then suddenly all they can smell is lavender. I don’t care how comforting we think lavender is, baby is not going to agree!
There are, however, ways and means.
Mum, if you are breast feeding, try putting one drop of lavender oil into your breast pad. Baby will start to recognize the mom-milk-lavender concoction as comforting and relaxing. When you have finished with the breast pad, place in baby’s bed for the night. It’s just like mum is near and now the magic of lavender can get to work.
When you wash bedding, pyjamas, and teddy bears add one drop of lavender for the final rinse of the wash, by placing a tablespoon of Epsom salts and lavender into the middle compartment of the soap dispenser. This way, you always keep the familiar lavender fragrance no matter how clean things are, and babies tend to be very reassured by that.
Please do not massage or bath baby with essential oils, until around 6 months old when their skin is adequately formed to deal with them properly. For bath-time, add one drop of lavender oil into a basin full of warm water, but put baby into the bath. This way they can inhale the relaxing aromas but not have their skins irritated.
Lavender Essential Oil for Headache
Release tension headaches by adding a drop of lavender oil to a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Massage into the neck and shoulders as well as the temple and forehead. Make a rollerball of your concoction to keep in your handbag and deal with stress as and when you need it.
Can lavender essential oil cause headaches?
Yes, use it for too long and it most probably will. Over exposure to any oil can cause sensitization but lavender can be especially guilty of this.
Lavender Essential Oil for Skin
A rookie mistake is to use lavender too often in the bath, as it will eventually dry the skin. One of its actions is ant-seborrheic, so it reduces the oily antibiotic sebum that covers the surface of the skin. It is the perfect oil for teenagers as it will reduce their oiliness and spots, but for the rest of us we will end up with flaky and dry skins.
Lavender Essential Oil for Face
If you are over twenty-one the rule of thumb is usually don’t use lavender on your face. It is just too drying. If you have oily skin, however, it is superb. Add one drop to moisturizers and cleansers to gradually bring the sebum levels into balance.
If you do get a zit though, regardless of how old you are, chuck every rule out of the window. Put one drop neat onto the spot to clear the toxins out.
Lavender Essential Oil for Acne
The same applies as above really. Not all acne is greasy, so if it is oily use lavender oil in creams and toners. If, however, it is drier, you might be better off with the antibiotic magic of a drop of tea tree in your creams.
Lavender Essential Oil for Hair
Again, we are reducing oiliness here, so this works well for very greasy teenage hair. Add three drops of lavender oil to a tablespoon of vinegar to rinse the hair and make it gleam.
Lavender Essential Oil for Hair Growth
Add cedarwood and lavender oil into a tablespoon of warm carrier and then massage into the scalp. Wrap your head with a warm towel and let the oils absorb into the scalp for thirty minutes. Shampoo and rinse as normal.
Lavender Essential Oil for Burns
Pour neat lavender oil over burns as quickly as you can. The oil reduces the pain and redness and helps support healthy scar tissue formation and regeneration of the skin.
Which is the best lavender essential oil?
Read your Latin names carefully as the chemistry of different chemotypes varies a great deal. Neither French lavender - Lavandula stoechas and Spike Lavender Lavandula latifolia are as easy to use as Lavandula angustifolia, sometimes exacerbating eczema, cramps and psychosis. Our Lavandula angustifolia, the so called True Lavender is sourced from the magical hillsides of Bulgaria. It is gentle, powerful and nurturing.
Safety Using Lavender Essential Oil
Not safe for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Author: Elizabeth Ashley, AKA The Secret Healer
Elizabeth Ashley is The UK Director of National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy and overseas speaker for the International Federation of Aromatherapists, also the author of 20 books about aromatherapy including 12 Amazon category number one best sellers, as well as being a regular contributor to five professional trade journals.