How To Use Lavender Essential Oils
Lavender Essential Oils
Lavender's scientific name is Lavandula officinalis or Lavandula angustifolia. Lavender is used in shampoos, soaps, potpourri and perfumes because of its aromatic fragrance. The name of lavender comes from the Latin word "lavare" which means to wash. It is believed that lavender earned this name because it was frequently mixed in the water that were used to purify the spirit and body. This herb is also known to give a natural remedy for different ailments like mood disturbances, depression, anxiety and insomnia. Studies have also confirmed that lavender gives a soothing, calming and sedative effect. Learning how to use lavender essential oils to their full potential will definitely help you in easing a range of medical issues easily.
Lavender is said to be native to mountains of the Mediterranean where it thrives in stony, sunny habitats. Today, lavender is also growing in United States, Europe and Australia. Lavender is a short shrub that is heavily branched. It can grow up to 60 centimeters and its broad rootstock has woody branches that have rod-like, green leafy shoots. The oblong and tapered gray-green leaves are covered by a silvery down. The oil found in the lavender’s small, blue-violet buds is responsible for its herbal fragrant scent. The flowers of lavender are arranged in spirals of 6-10 blossoms, with spikes interrupting above the foliage. The part of lavender that is considered to be the source of essential oil is its flowers.
Medicinal Indications and Uses
Many clinical studies have shown that lavender essential oil can be beneficial in a variety of medical conditions like alopecia, insomnia, stress, anxiety, and post-operative pain. It can also be used as an anti-viral and anti-bacterial agent. Lavender oil can also be used with other forms of integrative treatments and medicine like acupuncture, massage and chiropractic manipulation.
In ancient times, pillows were stuffed with lavender flowers to help those people who have difficulty falling asleep. Recently, scientific evidence have proven that lavender can slow the activity of the nervous system, thus improving the quality of sleep, promoting relaxation and lifting the mood of people who have sleeping difficulties.
Studies have also proven that massaging with lavender oil can improve sleep quality, stabilize mood, increase mental capacity and reduce anxiety. Flowers of lavender have also been recently approved in Germany as a tea for restlessness, insomnia and nervous stomach irritations.
Alopecia areata is a disease that is characterized by significant hair loss with an unknown cause. People who massaged lavender on their scalps for seven months experienced significant growth of hair in their balding spots.
Aromatherapists use lavender to treat nervous disorders, headaches, and exhaustion. Herbalists also use lavender oil to treat skin problems like wounds, acne, fungal infections and eczema. Lavender is also mixed in the water for a healing bath given to people who have circulatory disorders and rheumatic ailments.
Available Forms of Lavender
There are already numerous commercial preparations from the essential oil and dried flowers of lavender. These preparations come in the following forms:
- Whole, dried flowers
- Aromatherapy oil
- Bath gels
Lavender for Children
For children, oral use of lavender is not recommended. However, it may be used in specially diluted concentrations to treat skin injuries and infections like minor scrapes and cuts. Do not use lavender on open wounds. Aromatherapy may also be used for chidren. Simply use 2 to 4 drops in 3 cups of boiling or hot water. Let the child inhale the vapors when he or she is suffering from insomnia, depression or headache.
Lavender for Adults
For internal use (tea): Put 1-2 teaspoons of whole herb in a cup of hot water. Steep the tea for 15 minutes and drink the tea for about 2 to 3 times a day, depending on one’s preference.
Lavender oil can also be administered through inhalation. Add 2-4 drops in boiling water, then inhale the steam vapours to cure insomnia, depression or headache.
For topical external application, lavender can safely be applied undiluted. However, for adults who have very sensitive skin or for those who are prone to allergy, it would be better to dilute the lavender oil in a base oil of choice (olive oil almond oil, etc). Never use lavender oil internally. Always avoid contact with eyes and other mucous membrane like nostrils or lips.
Although the use of herbs like lavender essential oil is a time-honored approach to healing the ailments of the body naturally, we must always remember that herbs also contain active components that can interact with other medications and supplements that can trigger harmful side effects. For these reason, lavender oil should be taken with the permission of a health care provider who is an expert in the field of botanical medicine.
Even though side effects from herbal essential oils are very rare, it will still be best to consult your doctor first so as to avoid adverse side effects like allergies. Some individuals who have reported allergies with lavender experienced vomiting, nausea, chills and headache. Women who are breast-feeding or pregnant should avoid using lavender to be on the safe side.
Possible Interactions or Side Effects
Lavender can have negative effects with people who are taking CNS depressants for their medication. Although there are no known reports of interactions between conventional medications and lavender, there are certain relaxing qualities of lavender that could enhance the effects of depressants that target the central nervous system. These include narcotics and other anti-anxiety agents. It would be best if you talk to your health care provider first if you are using CNS depressants and want to use lavender as part of your medication.
Lavender comes in different names and it would be really helpful if you want to be familiar with this essential oil. It can be called English lavender, French lavender, or Garden lavender. In some countries that have their own language, lavender may be called differently and you can try searching for its translation in herbal or botanical books or through the Internet. Knowing how to use lavender essential oils will surely help you in curing medical problems the natural way.