Lavender Essential Oil – Part One, Lavender true.
Oooh lavender! The indispensible oil! I spent so many years of my life avoiding lavender: I didn’t like the smell, I didn’t like the nanna-type connotations, and I could just live without it, thanks. And I knew that was all over once I started my aromatherapy and massage diploma . Once you get serious about aromatherapy you have to embrace lavender.
It was worth it, though. Lavender is one of the few oils that can safely be used neat (straight from the bottle, undiluted), and it can be used for almost anything.
This post will focus on lavender ‘true’ only – rather than spike lavender, or lavendin, which are different fish completely – I’ll write about them soon, don’t worry. They are good oils, but just different.
So – for purposes of this post, I’ll say ‘lavender’, and you’ll understand that I mean Lavendula angustifolia (also L. augustifolia depending on area, it’s the same type of lavender), Lavendula officianalis and Lavandula vera – pretty much the standard / English lavenders.
So! Interesting info: The main places lavender is grown is Tasmania, France, Bulgaria, Spain and England. I know there are lavender farms springing up around New Zealand – I’m not sure which lavender they grow, mostly L. Grosso and blends I think; I’d be very interested in researching the constituents of them!
The two main chemical constituents are Linalyl acetate and Linalool: Linalool has had some promising research into it’s use as a fungicide against Candida albicans (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16178366), which is nice to know! More usually lavender is cited as being sedative in small quantities,stress reducing, antidepressant, and antiseptic and much more. A good research article to start with is http://www.greenpeoplescentfree.com/GP_Documents/Lavandula%20_spp_monograph.pdf
Although lavender *can* be used undiluted; I would advise caution – and never use it on children without diluting it first (about 5 drops of essential oil in 30 mls of carrier oil should be as concentrated as it gets). Some people are allergic to lavender (including my cousin V), so don’t go slathering it on unsuspecting people, ok?!
There is also some controversy about a possibly phytoestrogenic effect on baby boys (plants acting like estrogen ) – this website (http://www.safbaby.com/can-lavender-oil-and-tea-tree-oil-really-alter-a-baby-boys-hormones) has some more information on the original article and rebuttals: to put my veiw across – I am not concerned. The orignal ‘test’ was very flawed, highly small, and just plain weird: lavender has been used for many many years without ill effect. But, please, read and check up and make up your own mind before you use ANY essential oil on anyone. And although you can supposedly use lavender on newborns, I don’t think you should use essential oils on babies until they are about a year old, minimum (scented baby products are different – they are usually very diluted. For preference with these, I like to use products with genuine essential oils and no petroleum byproducts or foaming agents). Again, please make your own mind up! 🙂
My favourite uses for lavender:
*A few drops in with a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar make a good cleaning spray that smells nicer then just plain vinegar and water.
*I use a drop straight from the bottle on stings and insect bites – only on myself though. On others I’ll dilute it with a carrier oil (any good quality vegetable oil works as a carrier oil. Actually, just grab some vegetable oil from your pantry if that is all you have, we don’t need to be too precious! Cold pressed is best, but at a pinch, go for the Salad & Cooking Oil. Be a rebel. 😀 )
*A few drops on a tissue tucked into my pillowcase can help if I feel like I am coming down with a cold- it can also help with insomnia, apparantly. With the anti cold and flu I also like to put manuka or tea tree or rosewood oil with the lavender.
*And my all time best way to get rid of a tension headache: add 3-4 drops in a bowl of cold water, swirl around, then drop a flannel/face cloth in. wring out the flannel (so it’s all nice and cold but not dripping) and place on your forehead – and rest quietly for a while. Almost always works for me!
There are HEAPS of websites with information on lavender, and books too. If you want to buy some lavender oil, I’d recommend getting aromatherapy grade oils only (fragrant oils = NOT good for aromatherapy use, I’ll get into that another time) and from a reputable seller so you know what you are getting. I tend to source my essential oils from http://www.lotusoils.co.nz/ or http://www.gonative.co.nz/. Both are great websites, the people running them are super helpful, postage is fast and everything is packaged very well. Check both out before buying – Go Native often sell in larger quantities: so they may be less expensive by weight, but you may need to pay more outright. Not always. Peruse! Compare! Admire! Drool! I do. Especially the drooling. Another great place to source lavender essential oil is at Kereru Natural Products – the specific page is http://www.kereru.co.nz/webshop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=21_32&products_id=75.