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