The use of lavender, a flowering plant that is part of the mint family, dates to ancient Egypt, when it was part of the mummification process. Records indicate lavender was also used as a bath additive by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and throughout the Persian Empire. While its popularity and applications have evolved over time, lavender remains popular, especially for aromatherapy, and is now known to ease a variety of ailments.
The Basics of Lavender
Sweet and fragrant, lavender is a powerful tool for many uses. It is best known for its calming, soothing properties and is regarded by many as a way of improving quality of sleep. Applying diluted lavender oil to skin is another popular application, as the oil can be used to reduce skin blemishes which include inflammation, eczema and acne.
Is lavender a flower?
Yes, lavender is a flower that comes from the mint family. The purple flowers produce small nut-like fruits which contain the seeds of the plant. The plant’s flowers, stem and leaves have shining oil glands which produce that distinctive fragrance. Lavender is native to countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and is commonly grown in herb gardens.
Can you eat lavender?
Though a flower, lavender is considered an edible herb that can be eaten fresh or dried. Fresh lavender can be bought at many farmers markets and has many uses, including using the whole stem as a natural skewer for barbecuing meats or veggies. Dried lavender, meanwhile, has just a few calories per tablespoon and is popular for use in rubs, sauces, sorbet, and more.
What does lavender symbolize?
Lavender, regarded for its purple flowers, is associated with grace, calmness and also royalty, since the color purple often represents royalty. Lavender also is also strongly associated with symbolisms of purity and serenity.
Lavender Oil and the Body
Applying dilutions of lavender oil to blemished skin is a common practice. Lavender oil is used in this manner to reduce blemishes and ease inflammation. Lavender oil is also commonly used for aromatherapy, providing therapeutic, calming benefits.
What is lavender oil?
Lavender essential oil, which is commonly referred to simply as lavender oil, is a steam-distilled pure oil produced from lavender flowers and buds. It is a concentrated distillate of the volatile oils and natural phytochemicals of the lavender flowers and buds, and so is very potent. Lavender oil, like most essential oils, can be poisonous if swallowed and can cause severe burning of the sensitive mucous membranes of the mouth and throat if ingested at normal concentrations.
What is lavender oil good for?
Lavender oil is good for several aromatherapy treatments, as it is versatile and thought to provide health benefits. Several studies also indicate lavender oil may help in easing insomnia and assisting with anxiety-related issues.
Does lavender have side effects?
Using lavender oil can cause side effects, which include skin irritation or an allergic reaction. Since lavender oil can irritate some, it should not be used without first consulting a medical doctor.
Can I apply lavender oil directly to skin?
Lavender oil can typically be applied directly to the skin, though this can be irritating and cause aforementioned allergies. As such, lavender oil is most often applied in a diluted form, ranging in potency from a 50/50 lavender oil and carrier oil (e.g. jojoba, almond, etc) to concentrations of lavender oil under 2%. For those just beginning to utilize lavender oil, it is recommended to start with 1-3 drops of lavender oil per ounce of carrier oil (or other neutral carrier, such as unscented lotion). For dry skin, applying with your hands and fingers is fine. If treating inflammation, or other types of blemishes, use a cotton ball to avoid oily or dirty fingers.
Lavender Oil and Dogs
Linalool and linalyl acetate, which are found in lavender, can be toxic to dogs in large amounts. Since lavender oil is highly concentrated, ingesting a small amount can make a dog sick, whereas in its less-potent flower form, it would likely require a dog eating a large amount of lavender flowers before experiencing illness or dangerous side effects.
Lavender flowers and oil are both highly toxic to cats. Ingesting or inhaling a small amount can result in acute toxicity for felines.
Is lavender oil toxic to dogs?
Even a small amount of lavender oil is toxic to dogs and can be dangerous. Lavender oil is also extremely toxic to cats, so it’s important to keep the substance away from both.
Is it OK to diffuse lavender around dogs?
It’s safe to diffuse lavender around dogs if used sparingly and of the correction concentration. Remember that our furry companions have much more sensitive noses and nasal passages than most humans.
Uses of Lavender
Lavender is often a featured ingredient for aromatherapy treatments. It’s used to help treat anxiety, insomnia, stress and is believed by many to relieve mild pain. Stuffing dried lavender into a sealable tea bag or an empty muslin bag and adding to your bathwater is a great way to get the benefits of lavender’s aromatherapeutic and skin-soothing properties.
Does lavender repel mosquitoes?
Crushed lavender flowers are often used as a mosquito repellent, and dried lavender flowers can be added to campfires or bonfires (under appropriate supervision) to add a fragrant smoke that will aid in repelling mosquitoes Additionally, the potent aroma of lavender flowers helps repel another unwanted pest, the common clothes moth (whose larvae eat natural fibers, such as wool).
How to use lavender oil for anxiety
A dilution of lavender oil absorbs into the skin soon after being applied, which creates a calming effect. Apply to the wrists, back of the ears, or the neck as a topical treatment for anxiety relief.
How to use lavender oil for sleep
Lavender oil can be used in two different ways to improve your sleep and relieve insomnia. The first way is by diffusing the oil, which should be done about an hour before intending to fall asleep. The other application is by placing a couple drops of diluted lavender oil on your pillow, feet, temples or wrists, before wanting to fall asleep.
Not only will these techniques help you fall asleep, but they also should improve the quality of your rest.
Where do you put lavender oil for sleep?
Place a drop or two of diluted lavender oil on your pillow before falling asleep. Applying this dilution of lavender oil to your feet, temples or wrists is also effective.
Making Lavender Remedies at Home
Lavender can be incorporated into a homeopathic wellness plan in many different ways. You can make use of the benefits of lavender by making it into a tea, using dry lavender buds for an aromatherapeutic sachet, or creating your own lavender oil to assist with anxiety, depression, or insomnia.
How to Make Lavender Oil
The process for making lavender oil involves distilling the buds from the flower, followed by capturing the steam and condensing it into a liquid. Doing so does require the correct equipment, water, and time, so be sure to do your homework before undertaking lavender oil distillation yourself.
How to Dry Lavender
You can buy lavender buds that are already dry — or dry them yourself at home. To dry your buds, snip the stalks with buds from your plant and hang them upside down in a dark, warm, and dry spot to help protect the lavender’s color from sunlight and reduce the chance of mold. Place a sheet or a tarp underneath where your buds are drying to catch buds and blooms which may fall. This process typically takes a week to 10 days, humidity permitting.