The Essential Oil of Lavender to Help You Relax

Essential oils are natural oils from flowers, plants, trees, and fruit peels. They’ve been used for thousands of years to improve health and sense of wellbeing. 

Periodically, you’ll hear about an essential oil and its use in aromatherapy – using scent to connect with emotions, feelings, creativity, and awareness – or applied to the skin to fight infections, pain, and more.

Lavendula angustfolia, which is the botanical name for true lavender, is one of the most commonly used essential oils in the world today.  It’s used for health and wellness, cosmetics and perfumes, and even in food and beverages.

It’s become so popular there are lavender scented products that use synthetic lavender, which doesn’t have the same beneficial properties as the essential oil of lavender. To make sure what you’re using is a true essential oil; check the package for its botanical name. In this case, if you’re buying lavender, make sure the package says lavendula angustfolia.

What It’s Used For

Recognized for its floral scent and woody undertones, this refreshing, relaxing, and balancing aroma is used for a wide range of problems, including:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Burns
  • Infections
  • Wounds
  • Candida (yeast infection)
  • Insect bites

Therapeutic Properties

Lavender is a well-researched essential oil known for being analgesic (pain reducing), antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory. Exactly how it works to stop pain, inflammation, infection, muscle spasm, and aid in wound healing isn’t clear, but it stops fungal infections by destroying the fungus cell membranes.

Stress, relaxation, and anxiety reduction is related to how the scent triggers parts of the brain when you smell it.

Use it in the air or on your skin

Lavender can be used as aromatherapy by being inhaled or diffused through the air using a device.

It can also be added to bath water. To prevent it from floating to the top (oil and water don’t mix), add the lavender oil to a little milk, liquid soap, baking soda, or Epsom salt before putting it under the running water in the tub.

Lavender oil is one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin. But for general use and especially for massages, it’s best to dilute and extend it with a carrier oil.  Avocado, olive, sunflower, and sesame oil work. However, many prefer lighter carrier oils like grapeseed or jojoba for massage oils.

Easy Ways You Can Use Lavender

You can find lavendula angustifolia (remember that’s the botanical name for lavender and what you want to buy) at most health food stores or pharmacies, online, or from some integrative or complementary medicine providers. Here are a few examples of ways you can use it:

  1. For a calm and restorative sleep, place three-four drops of lavendula angustfolia on a cosmetic pad, cotton ball, or tissue and place it in between your pillow and pillow case, allowing you to inhale it as you sleep.
  1. For a relaxing environment in the bedroom, living room, or any room, try using a diffuser. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the correct number of drops of lavendula angustifolia to add for indirect inhalation. Electric or battery operated diffusers are safest.
  1. For a soothing, relaxing bath, combine five-10 drops of lavendula angustifolia with a couple tablespoons of milk or unscented liquid soap and then add it your bath water. This will bind the oil so it disperses in the water. Don’t add oil directly to the water or it will float to the top, where it can splash into your eyes and irritate them.
  1. For an even more soothing, detoxifying bath, combine two cups of Epsom salts, one cup of baking soda, and 10 drops of lavendula angustifolia. Pour it in under running bath water as the tub fills and soak in it for at least 20 minutes to get the detoxification benefits of magnesium and sulfur in the Epsom salts, the relaxation benefits from the lavender, and the pH balancing benefits of the baking soda. And it’s great for muscle aches and pain. (This recipe came from Mark Hyman, MD.)
    • Lavender scented Epsom salts are available in most pharmacies. Read the label to make sure they’re made with pure essential oils, not synthetics.
    • If you love this, make a big batch. The ratio is two parts Epsom salt to one part baking soda, with essential oil added to suit your preference.  Mix together and store in a sealed container. The scent will hold and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Meet the Author

Nancy Conway is the Director of Integrative Medicine at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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