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Lavender essential oil is probably the first "rediscovered" essential oil of modern times. The story is told in various ways, but basically a French chemist named Dr. René-Maurice Gattefossé was working in his laboratory when an explosion occurred. Dr. Gattefossé was covered with burning substances and managed to put the flames out by rolling in the grassy lawn, but his hands were so severely burned they were already developing gas gangrene, a very serious infection. He had a vat of lavender essential oil in the lab and doused his hands and arms with that, which immediately stopped the gasification. His healing was noticeable by the next day, and reportedly he healed scar-free from the horrific burns.

lavender_flowers

The healing properties of lavender essential oil are well-documented anecdotally, and are now being verified by scientific studies. As well as physical healing, lavender is known to provide relief from stress and to aid with restful sleep1. Since chronic stress can lead to many other ailments - depression, anxiety, lowered immune response, and many others - stress reduction is very valuable!

Lavender essential oil is not just a sedative and burn-helper, though. It can be used for respiratory infections, high blood pressure, ateriosclerosis, menstrual problems and PMS, skin issues (such as acne, exzema, psoriasis, and scarring), hair loss, insomnia, and nervous tension. Many have found that it even has a mild antihistamine effect and can help with allergies - without the side-effects2!

Lavender is also an adaptogen. That means that it helps you adapt to both internal and external factors which disturb homeostasis. If you are stressed, it can help calm you down3. If you are fatigued, it can help keep you alert4.

Lavender essential oil is perfect to have around for minor cuts, burns, and bruises, as well as for mental support. It can even help soothe a baby with colic5, or help reduce the pain of a migraine6! It is a "multi-tasker" and a must-have for the first aid kit! Lavender essential oil is considered Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, which means it is safe to take internally. It's always best to consult a trained aromatherapist and/or your healthcare professional before taking any oil internally.

A note of caution: Lavender essential oil is often extended with lavender-like plants (such as spike lavender, lavandin, or hybrid lavenders) which do not have the same chemical properties, and therefore do not have the same therapeutic value. It also is often diluted with synthetically manufactured chemical components that smell like lavender, which totally negates any therapeutic value and in fact can make the resulting product harmful to use.

There are no laws regulating essential oils in the United States, so manufacturers can put "100% Pure" and/or "Therapeutic" on the label without any verification or oversight. Make sure the oil you use is grown and distilled by a reputable company that controls the product from beginning to end, or "seed to seal". Putting a sub-par lavender oil on a cut or burn will cause more harm than good, and you should NEVER take a questionable oil internally!

Tips for Using Lavender Essential Oil

  • Soothe minor burns by applying 2—3 drops of lavender essential oil to the affected area.
  • Rub lavender essential oil on dry or chapped skin to moisturize the affected area.
  • Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a cotton ball and place it in closets and drawers to scent linens and repel moths and insects.
  • You may be able to minimize the appearance of scar tissue by massaging lavender essential oil on or around affected areas.
  • Place a few drops of lavender essential oil on a wet cloth or paper towel to deodorize and freshen your laundry without toxic dryer sheets.
  • Diffuse lavender essential oil to minimize seasonal discomforts.
  • Rub a few drops of lavender essential oil onto your hand and spread over your child's pillow to help him/her sleep.
  • Diffuse lavender essential oil to set the mood for a baby shower or social gathering.
  • Diffuse or inhale lavender essential oil to calm your mind, body, and spirit after a hard day's work.
References cited:
1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16520572
2 Essential Oils Desk Reference. 5th ed. Life Science Publishing, 2011
3 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1817516
4 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18603803
5 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22435980
6 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22517298