"Lavender embodies the warm, protective love of Mother Earth. It is caring, cherishing, and nurturing, and energetically very active in the auric field, closest to the body, incorporating heavenly energies into the physical with great efficiency," writes Valerie Ann Worwood in Aromatherapy For the Soul.
Worwood says the spiritual benefits of lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustfolia) are to encourage security, gentleness, compassion, reconciliation, vitality, clarity, comfort, acceptance, awareness, and emotional balance.
Plant family: Lamiaceae/Labiatae
Production: Steam distilled from the flowers of the lavender plant.
Aroma: The scent is generally light and mild with a floral aroma and woody undertones. However, the aroma can vary greatly between different species and hybrids of plants.
Perfume/Aromatic note: Lavender is generally considered a middle note oil but you can use it as either a base or top note, depending on the blend of essential oils.
Is lavender safe to use during pregnancy? Yes, according to Aromatherapy and Massage For Mother and Baby.
Is lavender essential oil safe for children? Lavender is generally safe for children and has traditionally been used to calm small children and babies. Some years ago, a study linked lavender to possible breast enlargement in boys. Many sources, including aromatherapy expert Robert Tisserand in Lavender oil is not estrogenic, have discussed why that study was inaccurate.
It's important to understand the types of lavender oil. The three common lavenders you are likely to encounter in aromatherapy are:
Among the other 30+ species of lavender, not commonly used in aromatherapy, are Lavendula stoechas (also known as Spanish lavender) and Lavandula dentata (also known as French lavender).
If you want to use lavender essential oil for therapeutic purposes, especially on your skin or on burns, it's important to know the species of lavender. Although lavandin has the same calming effect as true lavender, the use for which you never want to confuse the two is burns. True lavender helps burns heal but lavandin may make burns worse.
Because lavandin is cheaper, some companies sell "lavender" essential oil that is really lavandin or a blend of true lavender and lavandin. Another apparently common, yet highly undesirable practice, is to add synthetic ester linalyl acetate to lesser quality lavender oils and attempt to sell them as high-quality lavenders.
Also, the quality of the essential oil is affected by how the lavender plant was grown and harvested. Depending on the location and the altitude where the lavender plant is grown and the way the plant was harvested, the composition of its oil varies greatly.
Look for scientific names on the label to know what you are getting. Avoid products without a scientific name on the packaging. Buy your essential oils only from reputable companies.
"Lavender is nurturing, supportive, and uplifting," according to The Heart of Aromatherapy. The benefits of true lavender (Lavandula angustfolia) include:
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art: "Lavender is among the safest and most widely used oils in aromatherapy and is considered a universal first aid oil."
Aromatherapy for Dummies: The benefits of lavender oil include acting as a sedative, to relieve depression, and to reduce stress that causes asthma flare-ups.
Aromatherapy For Healing the Spirit: In Traditional Chinese Medicine lavender has cool, dispersing, and relaxing qualities that benefit heat and inflammation, spasm, and pain. Lavender works to cool an overheated liver, soothes and supports the Qi of the heart, and releases pent-up energy within the Wood Element.
Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, Volume I: Psychologically, lavender calms the mind, encourages relaxation, and promotes emotional stability and renewal. Physically, the essential oil can relax or stimulate. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the essential function of lavender is to nourish Yin, activate Qi, clear heat, and calm the Shen.
Lavender is calming for most people, making it useful for dealing with mood swings, anger, mental stress, and anxiety. The aroma creates a balancing effect on the central nervous system. Here's how to use lavender oil for relaxation:
For stuffiness and congestion or coughing: Use steam with lavender essential oil. Pour boiling water into a metal or glass bowl, then add a few drops of lavender. Drape a towel over your head and position your face 12–24 inches above the bowl, as the heat permits.
For headaches: Sniff lavender oil or massage it into your neck and shoulders. Often works better combined with peppermint essential oil. Combine the two essential oils with a carrier oil to use to massage your neck, shoulders, and temples.
To relieve sore muscles and help you sleep: Blend 13 drops lavender and 5 drops German chamomile essential oil into 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel. Shake well before each use. Massage a little of the blend into sore muscles before going to bed.
Aromatica suggests the following blends:
Lavender helps keep skin in balance and can help clear blemishes and even out skin tone. It's helpful for all skin types. Go here for skin care recipes using lavender and other essential oils. If you have any doubts about the benefits of lavender in skin care, see Lavender oil - skin savior or skin irritant? by Robert Tisserand.
Lavender is beneficial for all types of hair. Learn more about essential oil hair care.
How to use lavender oil for hair growth: Dilute 1 to 2 drops lavender in a few drops carrier oil. Massage into your scalp and let rest for at least 10 minutes before shampooing your hair. Here are more hair growth essential oil blends.
You can also use lavender around the house: