In these spotlights I feature a botanical and the essential oil it produces. I explore the highlights and benefits, contraindications and much more. I hope you find this post to be interesting and informative and it helps you to understand why aromatherapy is so much more than just scents.
Our spotlight today, is on the Lavender.
This most popular of essential oils in Aromatherapy has been used for the longest time and today there are quite a few varieties of this beautiful plant. The most odorous of the lavender is said to be the one most commonly used, Lavendula officinalis. Lavender essential oil is distilled from the shrub, with its narrow leaves of a soft grey/green colour, and its tiny violet/blue flowers which sit atop long stems.
This delightful plant is extensively cultivated in England, France and Yugoslavia and many other countries, but actually grows wild in the Mediterranean.
Lavender water was the favourite perfume of Queen Henrietta Maria, who was the wife of King Charles the 1st, and lavender bags were used for centuries to keep moths and insects away. The bags were placed in linen drawers because of lavender’s pronounced insecticidal properties. The Romans also revered lavender for its antiseptic qualities, using it to cleanse their wounds and also bathe with it.
It was by accident that the wonderful skin healing properties of lavender were discovered, by a French chemist, named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, as a result of him sustaining burns in an accident in his laboratory. Needless to say lavender oil was close at hand and provided some amazing healing results.
Lavender is regarded as the most versatile essence therapeutically, and has a place in relieving a wide array of ailments. It is also a valuable essential oil to aid and enhance the effects of other essential oils, so it is easy to see why it is so highly regarded in the world of aromatherapy.
As discovered by Gattefosse, lavender’s healing powers are valuable for most skin conditions, like acne, allergies, burns, bruises, dermatitis and eczema, insect bites and stings and all sorts of wounds.
It is excellent for treating aches, pains and strains, including rheumatism, and is often used in blends to deal with influenza! Other respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough and throat infections can benefit from lavender aromatherapy treatment.
Vapourising lavender essential oil appears to relieve anger and exhaustion, resulting in a calmer approach to life, and it has balancing action on the central nervous system. It has a sedative action that will help to bring down high blood pressure and is known to calm palpitations.
An ‘essential’ essential oil for insomniacs, often used by aromatherapists in a blend to treat people suffering from insomnia and related sleeping disorders.
This versatile oil also is useful with menstrual problems such as painful periods, in general for abdominal pains, flatulence and nausea. It also may be helpful in childbirth, relieving pain and speeding delivery.
Adding lavender essential oil to water in a spray bottle will arm you with a versatile tool, such as using it to purify the air (as a room spray), spraying it around windows and doors to keep moths and insects at bay, and because it is an antiseptic, antiviral and a bactericide it is brilliant for cleaning kitchen benches and work areas, plus bathroom and associated surfaces…basically any area that needs purifying.
SAFETY DATA: Some people with low blood pressure may feel a bit dull and drowsy after using this oil. As with most essential oils too, it is best avoided in the early months of pregnancy.
It is also interesting to note that this versatile oil is used in pharmaceutical antiseptic ointments and as a fragrance. It is extensively used in many soaps, lotions, cosmetics, perfumes and even detergents. It is also used as a flavouring agent in most categories of food as well as alcoholic and soft drinks.