Natters on Aromas - Lavender
Updated: Nov 20, 2018
I am learning about a set of oils each time I go to the college, and you will not be surprised that one of the most popular was in that group – Lavender. Everyone has heard of Lavender. It is almost a one stop shop; if you have any oil, have this one
For me where I am based in Surrey I am lucky to be near Mayfield Lavender Fields – gorgeous. So worth a visit if you live nearby or ever happen to visit Surrey
I think people associate Lavender with old ladies. I have found to my surprise that it is a bit of a marmite oil: people love it or hate it. In my house alone it is a 50:50 split. For some people it can even cause them headaches.
Lavender has lots of great attributes; it is ‘anti’ a lot of things – antibacterial, antidepressant, antifungal, antispasmodic, antiviral. Also an astringent, cardiac tonic, bechic (help relieve coughing), decongestant, disinfectant, deodorant, sedative, immunostimulant – helps you fight infection, insect repellent, parasiticide and a sedative
Lavender has been around a long time, having one of the oldest pedigrees, and can be found as far back as the Romans. From visiting garden centres and from ones I have bought, I knew that there was more than one type of Lavender but I never knew there were 39 and even some sites say 46 species. I think we can say a lot – that is incredible. The two most commonly used for therapy oils are Lavender Officinalis (Augustifolia) and Intermedia (Lavandin). Most comes from Mediterranean countries, Provence is particularly known for its lavender fields.
Its primary action is to balance and normalise, which is why it is used in so many situations.
It is a great oil for healing burns. I have my own experience as I was stupid enough to let some boiling milk spill over onto my thumb. I won’t repeat the expletives I used! You will see from the photo below, it was a pretty nasty burn. I used diluted lavender oil to start with and then neat lavender oil as the wound healed and it is amazing. You would really have to stare at my thumb to see where the burn is, the scar is so minimal and it is relatively new as I only did it in July
Lavender is anti-viral, so great with colds and flu. It helps attack the primary infection as well as the bacteria that can cause the catarrh and other symptoms like earache. A steam inhalation can help ease a sore throat. A small amount of neat oil if rubbed into your throat can help a cough. Also a drop or two of neat oil rubbed into the bony ridge of eyebrows and either side of the nostril area, right in those sinus areas can help catarrh. I for one will definitely be trying this out this winter and will report back how I get on.
Lavender oil is also good neat rubbed into temples for a headache. This is true of others oils so you will hear this mentioned again. I guess it is finding the one that is right for you. It is worth a try before jumping for the painkillers. Especially Lavender which for the majority of people is so gentle and can be tolerated neat in very small quantities. It won’t be for everyone.
Lavender is said to have analgesic properties, hence why it is suggested for a headache. If you put a few drops in a carrier oil it can help tired and overworked muscles and lower back pain. It can help with arthritis and rheumatism. I can imagine how nice it would be to have a hand massage of diluted oil if you had stiff arthritic fingers. The oil helps lower the response to pain of the central nervous system and also helps reduce inflammation.
Just reading about this oil makes you want to slap it all over and cure everything. For me sadly it would turn my husband away: he hates the smell. However I have used it successfully, my burn story being a case in point.
Being a spasmodic and analgesic it can help with colic, irritable bowel and menstrual cramps.
There was a study in 2015 showing how it helped rubbing it on the skin before the insertion of dialysis needles, to lessen the intensity of pain. I am sure it also helped with their fear and anxiety too.
Most people will be familiar with it as an ingredient in bath products – relaxing bath oils. If you are not a bath person, put a few drops on a hankie (do people still have these ) or on your pillow directly. It aids sleep. I use it every night, I love it. Lavender is most probably safe, but as a general rule of thumb, do not put neat essential oil in your bath. It does not mix with the water, and will just attach itself to your skin. This could cause you to have an irritation or allergic reaction to that oil.
There have been some fantastic studies done with Lavender, back in 2012 they used Lavender to help with PTSD. The kind of symptoms they were trying to deal with were restlessness, depression, sleep disturbance and anxiety and they had really good results in just a six week study.
As you read in my introduction, these are great qualities, but I really want to hone in on what this oil can do for our mental well -being. You have to feel good even just walking through a field of lavender, but not everyone has one on their doorstep.
It is suggested that lavender oil helps to release pent up energy, particularly good for creative people who are getting frustrated not fulfilling their potential.
I went to a wonderful workshop on Essential Oils and Emotions and you will read several references from that book as I chat about the oils. I learnt so much that evening, listening to the co-author, Amanda Porter. What an inspirational lady.
Lavender is the oil of communication and calm. It can help those that are not good at verbal expression, hide within, blocking their true self – holding back innermost thoughts. It helps release the tension and constriction that is held. Calm those racing thoughts (well I need a bucket load there then!) maybe my few drops at night aren’t enough! It encourages emotional honesty.
Lavender gives us courageous spirit.
Sometimes if you don’t want to put it in your bath or rub it somewhere, try just a few drops in your hand, rub your hand together and cup your hands over your nose and see how you feel.
Lavandula Angustifolia to give the Latin name to the true Lavender ( I said earlier there are many types) has been widely researched by the scientific community and there is lots to support its anxiolytic properties (drug to relieve anxiety) and reflect its versatility.
I didn’t think I could finish Lavender without a mention of one of the Gurus of the Essential Oil world – Gabriel Mojay.
He wrote an aromatic sonnet on Lavandula and this is one of its verses, which rings so true:
At life’s stressful crossroads this gentle guide
calms and steadies us on our journey home;
it settles the soul that, restless, did roam
and restores the wholeness that fears divide
Please refer to my introduction page for my disclaimer on oil safety. Enjoy but be careful.