It's the darling of the natural fragrance world, pleasantly scenting personal care and household items alike. Lavender is much more than just a soothing fragrance, though; it's a potent essential oil with beneficial healing and cleansing powers.
If you've not worked with the pure botanical lavender essential oil on its own yet, you're going to want to give some of these uses a try.
First, a little science and history lesson: Did you know that "lavender" is derived from the Latin word, "lavare" which means, "to wash?" (We'll dive into that function of the plant a little later.) Lavender, the purple cone-like flowery plant, is a member of the mint family native to European countries including France, Bulgaria (which produces most of the world's commercial crops) and Ukraine, as well as parts of north and east Africa, India, and the Mediterranean. The most common type harvested is called English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) despite where it's coming from.
Lavender is considered one of the seven polyvalents, which are botanicals effective in treating many different ailments. It is made through a distillation process standard in producing essential oils. It contains potent phytochemical including linalool (say it out loud, it's quite fun) and linalyl acetate, both of which impact the fragrance factor as well as produce other desirable effects of the oil.
Use of lavender dates back to biblical times as one of the holy herbs; it was treasured by Greeks and Romans, as well as Egyptians, and its potency continues to make it valuable today in natural healing and cleaning. So now that you're a bit more familiar with this fascinating plant, how to use it?
Growing the lavender plant is fairly easy and highly recommended! But using the pure plant essential oil gives you access to its many therapeutic benefits you can't get unless it's concentrated. Generally, a few drops are all you need, no matter what you're using it for. Find therapeutic grade lavender oil at your local health-minded market. I recommend Simpler's and Soothing Touch brands.
- Dab on insect bites or burns.
- Use to repel insects by rubbing a few drops on your clothes or skin.
- Inhale the oil for headache relief or dab a drop on each temple.
- Splash a few drops on your pillow to help fall asleep and enhance your quality of sleep as well.
- Dilute 1:10 with water, rosewater, apple cider vinegar or witch hazel to treat acne breakouts, psoriasis and eczema.
- Inhale during traffic, long lines, boring meetings or any other situation where you feel you need to calm and relax.
- Dress wounds with lavender (mixed with honey is even better) to speed healing and reduce scarring.
- Studies have shown it may be effective in speeding treatment of certain cancers including breast, ovarian, liver and prostate.
- Keep lavender handy if you're particularly allergy prone as it may reduce symptoms.
- Use on scalp to reduce dandruff.
- Smelling lavender may diminish nausea and indigestion. It may also aid in curbing your cravings.
- Boost your mood with a whiff of lavender.
- Use in homemade deodorant.
- Keep a bottle in your purse and use instead of triclosan hand sanitizer.
- Make a salt bath with lavender for calming and easing sore or strained muscles, bruises and even broken bones.
- Add a few drops to your facial cleanser and moisturizer to tone and purify for a healthy glow.
- Add to vodka or vinegar to clean cutting boards, counters, sinks, tubs and toilets.
- Mix a few drops in with your laundry detergent to mitigate bacteria and freshen your load.
- Add to homemade candles, potpourri or incense to keep your home smelling fresh and clean.
Got any more favorite uses for lavender? Let us know in the comments!
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Chris Gin