Lavender Essential Oil Profile

Essential Oils Profile Series
This is the first segment of my Essential Oils Profile Series. I plan to profile all of the essential oils (eventually!), starting with the ones I use the most.

Lavender essential oil is one of the most commonly used essential oils. There used to be two different names for the purest form of lavender essential oil: Lavandula officinalis and Lavandula angustifolia. Lavandula simply means “lavender,” the name is derived from the Latin word ‘lavare’ meaning “to wash,” referring to the use of infusions of the plant. The Romans also used it in their bath routine, and it is said to have been introduced by the Romans into England, where it soon became a favorite (thus ‘English Lavender’). The name “officinalis” means “official” or “true” and is the common name used to designate the medicinal form of lavender. It has since been changed to “angustifolia” which is Latin for “narrow leaf.”

Plant description:
Lavender is native to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean where it grows in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States. Lavender is a heavily branched short shrub that grows to a height of roughly 60 centimeters (about 24 inches). Its broad rootstock bears woody branches with upright, rod-like, leafy, green shoots. A silvery down covers the gray-green narrow leaves, which are oblong and tapered, attached directly at the base, and curled spirally.
The oil in lavender’s small, blue-violet flowers gives the herb its fragrant scent. The flowers are arranged in spirals of 6 – 10 blossoms, forming interrupted spikes above the foliage.

Essential Oil:
Lavender essential oil is made by steam distillation using only the flowers of the lavender plant.

Scent:
Lavender essential oil has a sweet, floral scent.

Color and Scent Notes:
A clear oil, Lavender is generally considered a middle note oil, but can be used as a top note depending on what other essential oils you combine it with.

Chemical Content:
Linalyl acetate (30-60%), linaloal, geranial, caryophyllene, lavandulylacetate, cineol, nerol, cumarin, and fat aldehydes.

Properties:
Lavender essential oil has soothing, calming, and restorative properties. The essential oil is antiseptic, cooling and mild. Lavender Essential Oil is often referred to as the universal oil, because there is such a multitude of uses for this oil, such as cuts, bruises, burns, headaches, and insomnia. Lavender can be used neat (undiluted) and combines well with almost all other oils for a wide variety of benefits.

Physical Benefits:
• Tones and revitalizes skin
• Anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects assist with bronchitis and asthma
• Anti- Inflammatory effects helps throat infections and whooping cough
• Stimulates hair growth and degreases hair
• Helps the digestive system deal with colic, nausea, vomiting and flatulence
• Soothes sunburn and helps heat stroke
• Helps lower blood pressure by relieving stress
• Helps to soothe colds, laryngitis
• Helps to reduce halitosis
• Relieves pain when used for rheumatism, arthritis, lumbago and muscular aches and pains, especially sport related
• Useful for all types of skin problems such as acne, abscesses, oily skin, boils, burns, sunburn, wounds, lice, insect bites, psoriasis, and stings
• Acts as an insect repellent and soothes the stings from insects


Mental Benefits:
• Has a soothing and calming effect on the nerves
• Helps to balance mood swings
• Helps to suppress PMS symptoms
• Relieves tension
• Helps to relieve depression
• Calms panic and hysteria
• Helps relieve nervous exhaustion in general
• Effective for headaches, migraines
• Helps to relieve insomnia by causing drowsiness

Precautions:
• Can be a powerful allergen. Nausea, vomiting, headache, and chills have also been reported in some people after inhaling or absorbing lavender through the skin.
• Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid taking Lavender internally, as it may stimulate uterine contractions. In vitro, lavender oil is cytotoxic. It increases photosensitivity as well. Lavender oil is cytotoxic to human skin cells in vitro at a concentration of 0.25%.
• In 2007 a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine which indicated that studies in human cell lines indicated that lavender oil had estrogenic and antiandrogenic activities. They concluded that repeated topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oils probably caused prepubertal gynaecomastia (the development of abnormally large mammary glands in males resulting in breast enlargement) in some boys.
• Extreme over-dosage may cause drowsiness. Rare side effects have included constipation, skin rash, headache or nausea.
• CNS Depressants — There are no known scientific reports of interactions between lavender and conventional medications. However, because lavender promotes relaxation, it may make the effects of central nervous depressants stronger. These drugs include narcotics such as morphine or oxycodone (OxyContin) for pain, and sedative and anti-anxiety agents such as lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax). Ask your doctor before using lavender with these and other sedatives.

Consumption:
Pediatric
Oral use in children is not recommended.
• May be used topically in diluted concentrations to treat skin infections and injuries, such as minor cuts and scrapes. Never use lavender on an open wound; seek immediate medical attention.
• A small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 concluded that lavender and tea oils in some shampoos, soaps, and lotions may cause gynecomastia, breast development in a male, in boys. If you have any concerns, ask your doctor about using lavender for a child.
• May be used as aromatherapy for children. Use 2 – 4 drops in 2 – 3 cups of boiling water. Inhale vapors for headache, depression, or insomnia.

Adult
The following are recommended adult doses for lavender:
• Internal use: Tea: 1 – 2 tsp whole herb per cup of hot water. Steep for 10 – 15 minutes and drink, 1 – 3 times a day.
• Tincture (1:4): 20 – 40 drops, 3 times a day
• Inhalation: 2 – 4 drops in 2 – 3 cups of boiling water. Inhale vapors for headache, depression, or insomnia.
• Topical external application: lavender oil is one of the few oils that can be safely applied undiluted. For ease of application, add 1 – 4 drops per tablespoon of base oil (such as almond or olive oil). Lavender oil is toxic if taken orally. Only use the oil externally or by inhalation. Also, avoid contact with eyes or mucous membranes such as the lips and nostril.

Some General Uses:
• Rub Lavender oil on the feet for a calming effect on the body.
• Rub a drop of Lavender oil on your palms and smooth on your pillow to help you sleep.
• Put a drop of Lavender oil on a bee sting or insect bite to stop itching and reduce swelling.
• Put 2-3 drops of Lavender oil on a minor burn to decrease pain.
• Mix several drops of Lavender oil with V-6 Vegetable Mixing Oil and use topically on eczema and dermatitis.
• To alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness, place a drop of Lavender oil on the end of the tongue or around the naval or behind the ears.
• To stop a nosebleed, put a drop of Lavender oil on a tissue and wrap it around a small chip of ice. Push the tissue covered ice chip up under the middle of the top lip to the base of the nose and hold as long as comfortable or until the bleeding stops (do not freeze the lip or gum).
• Rub a drop of Lavender oil over the bridge of the nose to unblock tear ducts.
• Rub Lavender oil on dry or chapped skin
• Rub a drop of Lavender oil on chapped or sunburned lips.
• To reduce or minimize the formation of scar tissue, massage Lavender oil on and around the affected area
• Rub 2 – 4 drops of Lavender oil over the armpit area to act as a deodorant.
• Rub a drop of Lavender oil between your palms and inhale deeply to help alleviate the symptoms of hay fever.
• Rub several drops of Lavender oil into the scalp to help eliminate dandruff.
• Place a few drops of Lavender oil on a cotton ball and place in your linen closet to scent the linens and repel moths and insects.
• Place a drop of Lavender oil in your water fountain to scent the air, kill bacteria and prolong the time between cleanings.
• Place a few drops of Lavender oil on a wet cloth and throw into the dryer, which will deodorize and freshen your laundry.
• Put a drop of Lavender oil on a cold sore.
• Diffuse Lavender oil to alleviate the symptoms of allergies.
• Spritz several drops of Lavender oil mixed with distilled water on a sunburn to decrease pain.
• Drop Lavender oil on a cut to clean the wound and kill bacteria.
• Apply 2-3 drops of Lavender oil to a rash to stop the itching and heal the skin.

Simple Recipes

Skin
Skin Astringent Recipe
2 bags of green tea
1 tablespoon rosemary
16 oz boiling water
1/2 cup witch hazel
5 drops lavender essential oil
juice from a half of lemon

Place rosemary into a strainer or muslin bag and place it into a glass container. and the tea bags and pour the water into it. Let it stand until it’s completely cool. Then add the witch hazel, lemon juice and lavender oil. Store in the fridge. It may separate so shake before use.

Hair:
Concentrated Lavender Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
CAUTION: This rinse needs to be diluted in water prior to use in hair

2 cups of cider vinegar
1 cup lavender
1 large (greater than 4 cups) airtight glass jar

Place 1 cup of lavender in a large glass jar and cover with 2 cups of vinegar. Steep this mixture in a tightly closed jar in the refrigerator or in a dark, cool place for two weeks. After steeping, strain vinegar from herbs through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a fresh, clean bottle or glass jar. This mixture can be refrigerated up to 6 months.
Tip: If you don’t want to wait the two weeks, speed up infusion by heating the vinegar before pouring over herbs. Allow to sit for at least 3 days before straining.

When ready to use: dilute 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of the herbal vinegar in 1 cup of water. Rinse through wet hair after shampooing. Rinse it out with fresh water or, for extra conditioning benefits, just leave it in and towel dry hair. The vinegar scent will disappear as your hair dries.

Food: (requires culinary dried lavender)

Lavender Lemonade
2 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups sugar
1 large lavender tea bag
2 ½ cups water
1 cup lemon juice
Ice cubes

Preparation:
In small sauce pan, add
2 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups sugar

Heat until sugar dissolves. Add lavender tea bag and let cool to room temperature. Remove tea bag. In a 2 quart pitcher, add remaining water, lemon juice and lavender sugar infusion. Add more sugar or lemon to taste. Serve chilled over ice and garnish with lavender sprig.

Quicker method: Use one can of frozen lemonade concentrate and pour content into pitcher. In a sauce pan measure 3 1/2 cans of water, bring to boil and add large lavender tea bag. Turn off heat and let steep until room temperature. Remove tea bag and add infusion to pitcher with lemonade concentrate. Stir and serve over ice. If you leave the tea bag in overnight, the tea will turn a very light pinkish color and will have a stronger flavor which I prefer.

Medicinal:

Lavender Mouthwash
100ml of water
two drops of pure lavender essential oil

Shake the bottle well. Take a teaspoon of the mixed liquid and swill around the mouth and spit out. However, take care not to drink fluids immediately after this or bacteria killing lavender could get diluted.

Where to Buy:
You can buy products made with lavender at most local stores. The best places to try would be your local health food markets, however. This would include places like Yes! Organic Market and Whole Foods. These places should also sell dried lavender flower buds in bulk as well. Bulk lavender is also available directly from local lavender growers. Once place I love is The Lavender Path. They sell lavender in bulk by the pound. One pound is only $20.
The Lavender Path
Yes! Organic Market
Whole Foods Market
Amazon.com

Notes:
Wikipedia: Lavender and Lavandula Angustifolia
Suite 101: Lavender Essential Oil Profile: Properties, Characteristics and Uses of Lavender EO in Aromatherapy
University of Maryland Medical Encyclopedia
Esoteric Oils

Photo Credits:
Freefoto.com
Bumblebee Blog