Lavender Essential Oil ~ Benefits & Uses
Lavender essential oil has been a staple in my home for nearly 2 decades now. Even before I really knew anything about the benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy, I was using it. Lavender essential oil is one of the most gentle and useful of all essential oils. It has a soft, floral, slightly herbal scent that is liked by most. The lavender plant (from which the essential oil is derived) is native to the Mediterranean region. Its name comes from the Latin word Lavare, which means 'to wash'. Using lavender flowers and lavender essential oil as an additive in the bath originated in Persia, Greece, and Rome. It has also long been used as perfume. Some common names for Lavender are, English Lavender or Garden Lavender.
Lavender oil has antibacterial and antiviral qualities and is known to help relieve sunburns, insect bites, blemishes, and muscle aches. However, it's probably best known for its relaxing, calming effect on the central nervous system. Lavender essential oil is fantastic for helping to ease anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and depression.
There are numerous ways you can use this common essential oil in your home. Here are some of my favorite uses.
Using Lavender Essential Oil:
- Essential Oil Diffuser: Add 5-10 drops of lavender oil in an essential oil diffuser and turn it on about 20-30min before bedtime. This helps to create feelings of calm and relaxation before going to bed. (Note - This can be harmful to cats. If you have a cat in your home, don't use an essential oil diffuser. Instead, try the next suggestion for helping yourself unwind from the day with lavender essential oil.)
- Add to Bath: Having a bath before bed is one of my favorite ways to help my body sink into relaxation. I always add an essential oil to my bathwater and lavender is my go-to. I use 1 Tbsp of carrier oil (see below to learn more) with 3-4 drops of essential oil and pour it into the tub after it's been filled with water.
Release Muscle Tension:
- Foot Scrub: I always make my own foot scrub because it's super easy and cost effective. One of the ingredients I use in my recipe is lavender essential oil. For recipe click here.
- Soothe Sore Shoulders: Our shoulders often hold a lot of tension making them tight and sore. An easy way to help release shoulder tension is to rub them with lavender essential oil mixed with a carrier oil (see below to learn more). Pour a small amount of your choice of carrier oil into one hand, add 2 drops of lavender oil and rub hands together before rubbing shoulders. (Rub directly onto skin, not on top of clothes.)
- Breathe It In: A great way to reduce feelings of anxiety or nervousness is to inhale lavender essential oil. You can easily do this by placing a bottle of lavender oil under your nose and allowing a deep breath. Or, you can add a drop of this essential oil to a lava stone bracelet and wear your calming scent. This allows you to breathe it in whenever you'd like throughout the day. Lava stone beads are porous, thereby absorbing essential oils very well.
- Bug Bites: Is there anything more annoying than a bug bite? Lavender oil is fantastic at relieving the itch and pain of bug bites. I add one drop of olive oil mixed with one drop of lavender oil on my finger then rub onto bites. A super quick and easy way to help bring relief.
Laundry Room Essential:
- Add to Dryer: Ditch dryer sheets and invest in wool dryer balls. They're not very expensive and they're easy to find. Add 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil to each ball before popping them in the dryer with your clothes. I especially love to dry my sheets and bath towels this way to give them a light lavender scent. Learn more about why you'll want to consider no longer using conventional dryer sheets here. Alternatively, you can also add 5 or 6 drops of oil to an old cloth (facecloths are great for this) and place it in the dryer to help give your laundry a lavender scent. (Note - A cloth won't help won't help with any static cling though.)
Essential oils do not dissolve in water and can cause skin irritation if applied directly to skin. Therefore it's sometimes necessary to use a carrier oil with an essential oil. Carrier oils are also known as base oils and there's a wide variety of them to choose from. Carrier oils are an oil that's derived from seeds, nuts, beans, vegetables, or fruits. Some of my favorite carrier oils are sweet almond oil*, olive oil**, and jojoba oil. When looking for a carrier oil look for one that's unrefined, expeller-pressed, or cold-pressed, to ensure it's been minimally processed.
Before using any essential oil it's important to ensure you aren't allergic to it. To perform an allergy test, combine 1 or 2 drops of essential oil with 1 tsp of carrier oil in a small bowl. Apply a small dab of the mixture to the inside of your wrist, behind your ear, or behind your knee. If no irritation develops within 24 hours, the oil is safe for you to use.
Although all essential oils are natural, they're highly concentrated and very potent. They should always be used with caution and keep in mind that a little goes a loooong way. Here's a few precautions when using lavender essential oil, or any essential oil.
- For external use only, do not ingest.
- Although lavender oil is known to be one of the safest oils around, it's still important to keep it away from the small hands of children.
- If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, as with most things, consult your health care professional before using.
- Though not common for people to be allergic to lavender essential oil, if you do experience a skin rash or other irritation from using it, discontinue use and consult your health care professional.
It's always important to educate yourself about the properties and contradictions of any essential oil before using it. Personally, I prefer to always buy organic essential oils. Whatever brand you choose to buy, be sure that the bottle is not clear and not plastic. Look for essential oils bottled in dark, glass bottles. To retain the healing properties, always store your essential oils in a dark, dry, cool place.
* Sweet Almond Oil is extracted from raw almonds. If you have a nut allergy, do not use this oil.
** I recommend using a high quality, organic olive oil because some inexpensive brands use substitute ingredients.
How do you use lavender essential oil in your home? Please leave a comment below and let me know ~ I'd love to hear from you.
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