This time-honoured favourite has been used since ancient times for many therapeutic purposes.
Lavender essential oil is extracted via steam distillation from the flowers of two varieties – Lavandula angustifolia and L. officinalis. With its delightful scent and wide range of properties it acts as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, deodorant, insect repellent, and sedative, to name a few. It has certainly earned the title of an all-purpose remedy.
Although, lavender has long been used medicinally in Western herbalism, it was not until the early 20th century, when chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse burned his hand and discovered that applying lavender essential oil eased the pain and accelerated healing, that research into the effects of essential oils began.
Heal your body
Skin injuries: Lavender essential oil is ideal for treating burns, cuts, bites, stings and grazes.
Acne, pimples and eczema: Its natural antibacterial, antiseptic and oil-regulating effects make it useful for acne and other inflammatory skin problems.
Respiratory health: Lavender’s potent decongestant and antimicrobial properties make it helpful for treating colds, coughs and bronchitis.
Natural sleep aid: Lavender essential oil is a natural sedative that improves the length, and depth of sleep. Using it in inhalations or oil burners, or even sprinkle a few drops onto your pillow.
Headache: Massaging a few drops into your temples will relieve a headache, as will inhaling the aroma.
Muscle aches and pains: Use lavender essential oil in bath and massage blends to relieve muscle spasms, period pain and arthritis.
Mental health: Lavender’s scent brings deep relaxation during times of stress, depression or anxiety.
Always choose organic essential oils – not only are they more potent, but they are more natural and sustainable.
On the Horizon
Beekeepers use lavender to calm bees prior to harvesting honey, and researchers at Melbourne’s Monash University have revealed the reason why – a finding that may provide insights into the workings of the human brain.
Research leader Professor Claudianos explains: “Our team examined how lavender and other odours modify honey bees’ aggression when they defend their colonies against intruders. These odours counteract the potent alarm pheromones that bees release to recruit nest-mates into defending the hive, thus reducing overall aggression.”
Specifically, linking the behaviour to molecular changes in the brain, Professor Claudianos and his team have shown that odours such as lavender block aggressive behaviour, not by masking the alarm pheromones, but by switching the response off in the brain.