Lavender oil comes from lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), an easy-to-grow, evergreen shrub that produces clumps of beautiful, scented flowers above green or silvery-gray foliage. The plant is native to northern Africa and the mountainous Mediterranean regions, and thrives best in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it grows throughout southern Europe, the United States, and Australia.
High-quality lavender oil has a sweet, floral, herbaceous, and slightly woody scent. Its color can range from pale yellow to yellow-green, but it can also be colorless.
History Of Lavender
The use of lavender has been recorded for more than 2,500 years. Egyptians, Phoenicians and the people of Arabia used lavender as a perfume — and also for mummification, by wrapping the dead in lavender-dipped shrouds. In ancient Greece, lavender was called “nardus,” “nard,” or “spikenard” (named for the Syrian city of Naarda) and was used as a cure for everything from insomnia and aching backs to insanity.
By Roman times, lavender has already become a prized commodity. Lavender flowers were sold to ancient Romans for 100 denarii per pound — equivalent to a full month’s wage for a farm laborer — and were used to scent the water in Roman baths. In fact, the baths served as the root of the plant’s current name. “Lavender” is derived from the Latin lavare, meaning, “to wash.” Romans also used lavender as a perfume, insect repellent and flavoring. They even added dried lavender to their smoking mixtures.
In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, lavender was strewn over the stone floors of castles for use as a disinfectant and deodorant. It was also one of many medicinal herbs grown in “infirmarian’s gardens,” with yields intended to be used to ward off disease. Use of lavender was highly revered during the Great Plague of London in the 17th century, when individuals fastened bunches of lavender to each wrist to protect themselves from the Black Death, and glove makers scented their stocks of leather with lavender oil to ward off the disease. Thieves who made a living stealing from the graves and the homes of Plague victims concocted a wash known as “Four Thieves Vinegar,” which contained lavender, to cleanse and protect themselves after a night’s work. Today, we know the disease was transmitted by fleas, so the use of lavender–which is known to repel these insects–could very well have saved lives and prevented further spread of the plague.
The Shakers, a strict sect of English Quakers, are credited with commercializing lavender and introducing a variety of lavender-based products to the United States and Canada. The Shakers raised their own herbs, produced medicines, and sold them to neighbors and customers outside their religious sect. Because the Shakers believed in celibacy, they probably did not explore the romantic, sensual appeal that lavender is said to have, but there are many others throughout history who have, including Cleopatra, who, according to legend, used lavender to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Lavender Oil Composition
Lavender oil has a chemically complex structure with over 150 active constituents. This oil is rich in esters, which are aromatic molecules with antispasmodic (suppressing spasms and pain), calming, and stimulating properties.
The chief botanical constituents of lavender oil are linalyl acetate, linalool (a non-toxic terpene alcohol that has natural germicidal properties), terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. Other constituents in lavender oil that are responsible for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties include cis-ocimene, lavandulyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, and geraniol.
Lavender is an invaluable essential oil in both perfumery and aromatherapy. The therapeutic benefits of Lavender are varied and many. It is perhaps the most versatile essential oil, used for many conditions affecting the digestive, respiratory and nervous systems and in the treatment of muscular and joint pain. Last but not least, Lavender is highly esteemed for treating skin disorders as well as for use in skincare and cosmetics. It is one of the very few essential oils that can be used neat (undiluted) on the skin to treat burns, wounds and scars, etc. It is used in skin care and for keeping insects at bay as well as to ease their bites. Lavender is used in facial care, soaps, foot care, deodorants and powders for its aroma and therapeutic benefits.
Most likely due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics, lavender essential mixed with aloe or coconut oil has profound benefits on your skin.
Lavender Oil Properties
Lavender Oil as one of the Essential Oils
Lavender Uses On Skin
1. Lavender Oil For Itchy Scalp
Many conditions can cause an itchy scalp – from dandruff to ringworm or something more serious like a bacterial infection or autoimmune condition. In case tired of scratching your head, this essential oil is good for treating itchy scalp. Mix lavender oil with water and massage into the scalp. You can also add a few drops to your favorite conditioner after shampooing your hair.
2. Lavender Oil For Dandruff
Dandruff is a harmless, chronic condition that occurs when the scalp becomes dry or greasy and produces white flakes of dead skin that appear in the hair or on the shoulders. People most often think of dandruff as anything that produces a flaky scalp. If your scalp constantly gives you attitude (you know, like mine), one of my favorite lavender oil uses is as an anti-dandruff cleanser. When applied to your hair and scalp, lavender oil hydrates, moisturizes, and smells incredible. Add a few drops to some warm water in a squirt bottle and shake well. Evenly coat your scalp and hair, much like you would if you were dying your strands. Rinse out after a few minutes.
3. Lavender Oil For Alopecia Areata
In one study of 86 people with alopecia areata (an autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out, often in patches), those who massaged their scalps with lavender and other essential oils daily for 7 months experienced significant hair regrowth compared to those who massaged their scalps without the essential oils. However, there is no way to tell whether it was one or the combination of oils that was effective. On the other hand, preliminary studies also show that lavender may be effective in treating women with hirsutism (excessive hair growth).
4. Lavender Oil For Acne
Acne typically appears on your face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. These areas of skin have the most oil (sebaceous) glands. Acne occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Lavender is one of the most valuable oils for the treatment of acne, according to aromatherapists. “It inhibits the bacteria that cause the skin infection, helps to re-balance the over-secretion of sebum, which the bacteria thrive on, and reduce scarring”. Add a few drops of lavender oil to a plain cream sold by chemists and use as a moisturizer or cleanser.
5. Lavender Oil For Chapped Lips
Chapped lips can be caused by the weather, licking your lips too much, and even some medications. Only pure therapeutic-grade lavender oil should be considered safe for ingesting or use on skin areas. Be sure your bottle does not say “for external use only” as it is not pure therapeutic-grade and is not worth the money spent on it. Apply as needed to areas of chapped lips in the dry winter season to relieve dry, burning, chapped lips and to promote healing and moisturizing effects.
6. Lavender Oil For Fungal Infections
Fungal skin infections are caused by different types of fungi and can be a common culprit of itchy skin. Fungi invade and grow in dead keratin, a protein that makes up your skin, hair and nails. Lavender oil is also an effective remedy to fight antifungal-resistant infections. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology found that lavender oil has potent antifungal effects against strains of fungi that cause common skin and nail infections.
It also helps soothe itchy skin, minor wounds, cuts, bruises or burns and reduces the risk of scarring.
- Mix a few drops of lavender essential oil in 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
- Use a cotton ball to apply the solution on the infected area.
- Leave it on for at least 30 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat dry thoroughly.
- Repeat twice daily until you get rid of the infection completely.
7. Lavender Oil For Sunburn
You already know the simple explanation behind sunburn is when your skin is exposed to the sun for a period of time, eventually it burns, turning red and irritated. Pure Lavender Essential Oil is a great sunburn soother. Just mix a few drops with your favourite Carrier Oil and apply to the affected area. It speeds healing and prevents scars. But remember that Lavender Oil should never be applied if you are going out in the Sun because it makes your skin Photosensitive. It is also useful for minor burns caused by steam or hot objects.
8. Lavender Oil For Minor Burns
Burns are injuries primarily to the skin and underlying tissue. Put 2-3 drops Lavender oil on a minor burn to decrease pain. I recently did this after I spilled scorching hot tea on my hand at Starbucks and luckily had my lavender with me. Result: NO redness, swelling or pain. NO sign of any burn. Lavender works wonders!
9. Lavender Oil For Eczema
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a common form of dermatitis (skin inflammation) that causes the skin to become itchy, red, swollen and painful. Stroke infused lavender oil (a few drops of lavender oil & carrier oil) into dry, itchy skin—small children will find this especially comforting or add a few drops of lavender oil to calamine lotion, shake before use.
10. Lavender Oil For Insect Bites
An insect bite or sting often causes a small lump to develop, which is usually very itchy. Before you start oiling yourself up after a bee sting, first you’ll want to take care to remove the stinger. Put a drop of Lavender oil on a bee sting or insect bite to stop itching reduce swelling. Also try this recipe:
2 drops Lavender – 1 drop Peppermint – 1 drop German Chamomile -1 drop Vetiver
Lavender Side Effect And Safety
Lavender is LIKELY SAFE for most adults in food amounts. It’s POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth, applied to the skin, or inhaled in medicinal amounts.
When taken by mouth, lavender can cause constipation, headache, and increased appetite. When applied to the skin, lavender can sometimes cause irritation.
Other Uses Of Lavender Oil
- Reduces Stress And Anxiety
- Improves Sleep
- Alleviates Headaches
- Balances Blood Sugar
- Antioxidant Protection
- Nausea Or Motion Sickness
- Hay Fever
- Cold Sores
- Heals Cuts
- Aching Muscles
- Long Haul Travel
- Menstrual Cramps
- All Purpose Cleaner
- Fabric Freshener
- Relaxing Bath
- Heart Palpitations
- Respiratory Infections
- After Surgery Pain Relief
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Children: Applying products to the skin that contain lavender oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for young boys who have not yet reached puberty. Lavender oil seems to have hormone effects that could disrupt the normal hormones in a boy’s body. In some cases, this has resulted in boys developing abnormal breast growth called gynecomastia. The safety of these products when used by young girls is not known.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking lavender if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Surgery: Lavender might slow down the central nervous system. If used in combination with anesthesia and other medications given during and after surgery, it might slow down the central nervous system too much. Stop using lavender at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
How To Make Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is produced via steam distillation. The flowers are picked when they are in full bloom, where they contain the maximum amount of esters. It takes 150 pounds of lavender to produce just one pound of pure lavender essential oil.
Materials And Ingredients To Be Used
- Dried lavender flowers
- Mineral oil or olive oil
- Cheesecloth or muslin
- Sterilized bottle
- Clean and dry your jar completely, and then place the dried lavender flowers in it. You should have enough flowers to fill your jar.
- Pour the oil all over the flowers until they’re completely covered.
- Put the jar in a place where it can get a good amount of sun, and let it sit for three to six weeks. The sunlight will help extract the oil from the flowers and infuse it with the base oil.
- After three or six weeks, pour the oil through your cheesecloth and into a sterilized bottle.