Common Scents: Lavender
Lavandula angustifolia, better known simply as “lavender,” is a perennial evergreen plant that has produced the most used essential oil in the world for over 2500 years.
With a calming, physically and emotionally balancing fragrance, lavender has commonly been used for its relaxing effects on the body. According to ancient texts, its purposes range from medicinal to religious, having been used to clean cuts and to soothe bruises and skin irritations, as well as to scent the air for spiritual practices.
There are over 30 species of lavender and hundreds of genotypes that are distinguished by their growth form and the chemical compositions of their essential oils. There are 3 main species of lavender that fall within the genus that produces essential oils. They belong to a group called “Lavendula” and they are: English Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), Spike Lavender (Lavendula latifolia), and Lavandin (Lavendula angustifolia x Lavendula latifolia). The chemical composition of lavender essential oil consists of over 100 constituents, the major ones being 1,8-cineole, limonene, linalool, camphor, linalyl acetate, lavendulyl acetate, terpinen-4-ol, a-pinene, cis-ocimene, 3-octanone, trans-ocimene, and caryophyllene.
Cultivating Quality Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender blooms vary in shapes and sizes and they grow on long spikes or stems. Their essential oils can be found in microscopic glands on the outside ring of flower petals (the calyx), the inside ring of flower petals (the corolla), the leaves, and on the stalks and branches.
The ideal time for harvesting lavender essential oil is when the flowers are in full bloom, at which stage almost the entire flower head is open. Harvesting lavender before it fully matures means the oil will not be of as high a quality as it could potentially have been. Whereas, if the flower petals on the stem shrivel up, a high number of volatile molecules will be lost, weakening the resulting fragrance.
Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil
Used medicinally, lavender essential oil has been found to eliminate harmful bacteria, relieve muscle spasms, relieve flatulence, disinfect and soothe inflamed skin (especially when resulting from a venomous, itchy bug bite), promote speedy healing of irritated and scarred skin, and to relieve muscle tension when used in a massage.
When used in aromatherapy, this mild sedative is reputed to reduce stress by relaxing the brain waves, which is also said to reduce cortisol levels that contribute to the stress hormone. As cortisol leads to lower immunity, lavender would accordingly support the immune system by helping relieve feelings of stress that can weaken health. Lavender is believed to help balance hormones, to reduce feelings of nervous tension, and based on empirical evidence, has worked to reduce feelings of depression for some individuals. Due to its calming and relaxing properties, it can work as a sleep aid for those suffering from insomnia.
Uses for Lavender Essential Oil
Its ability to reduce emotional stress such as anxiety and its potency in alleviating headaches also extends to its ability to reduce feelings of motion sickness and to improve the mood. It is believed that lavender can reduce symptoms of hay fever when inhaled deeply. As a spray, lavender acts as a natural perfume and a non-toxic air freshener that creates a relaxing atmosphere, especially for the bedroom. In the bhroom, it can be sprayed onto towels for a fresh and calming scent.
Used in aromatherapy, the fragrance is inhaled and scent receptors in the brain’s emotional powerhouse process the smell as calming, allowing the brain and body to relax. Similarly, a few drops smoothed onto a pillow may promote faster onset of deeper sleep with a decreased number of sleep disturbances.
Diluted with a carrier oil and used topically, lavender oil moisturizes chapped and aging skin. Its antiseptic and antifungal properties may help to reduce itching and swelling caused by insect bites. Known to have antimicrobial properties, it provides soothing relief to minor burns and cuts, decreasing pain and inhibiting bleeding while eliminating bacteria from the wound.
Its potential to restore skin complexion is also demonstrated with use on aging and acne-prone skin on which it slows the look of aging with its powerful anti-oxidant action and improves the look and feel of skin that is subject to eczema and psoriasis. By diluting lavender essential oil in a natural shampoo and regularly massaging it into the scalp, the increased blood circulation may enhance hair growth, condition the hair, treat dandruff and lice, and strengthen hair — all while improving a negative mindset.
Lavender and Sandalwood Conditioning Shampoo
The following recipe highlights Lavender Essential Oil as an ingredient in a cosmetic product.
|Ingredient & Supplier
|New Directions Aromatics’ Shampoo Base
|New Directions Aromatics’ Lavender Essential Oil
|New Directions Aromatics’ Sandalwood Essential Oil
|New Directions Aromatics’ Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
- Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a clean, dark container.
- Use a small dab to lather hair, then rinse.
- Repeat, if necessary.
- Follow up with a conditioner or rinse
Lavender Essential Oil is an eminent and versatile oil that can be used on almost any part of the body for almost any ailment. It can be used in numerous body care products ranging from skin and hair care to emotional care through aromatherapy. The positive effects of Lavender Oil are powerful and have beneficial impacts on interconnected body systems.