There's more to lavender than just being a pretty flower and good fragrance? To find out read our in-depth guide on lavender oil and few simple, easy to make DIY recipes.
The Ultimate Guide to Lavender Oil
Lavender is a flowering plant in the mint family that can be used for ornamental purposes in landscaping. These perennial shrubs, known botanically as Lavandula angustifolia, usually produce lavender-colored flowers, and they emit a sweet fragrance. As lovely as some species of this flourishing plant may be, it is mainly grown commercially for the distillation of its essential oils.
The History Behind Lavender Oil
The lavender plant is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and India over 2,500 years ago. The Romans called the plant ‘lavender’, a word that stems from the Latin word ‘lavare’, which means ‘to wash’. The Greeks named it ‘Nardus’ in reference to the city in Syria called Naardus. The Indian people named Lavender ‘spikenard’ because of the spiked shape of the flowers.
Because of the lovely scent of this herb, the ancient Romans used the plant to perfume their baths, clothing, hair, and even their beds and other areas of the home. They soon discovered its healing and antiseptic properties and its usefulness in deflecting insects such as lice and fleas.
The first historical account of Romans using lavender medicinally was in 77 A.D. when a Greek military doctor, Dioscorides, who was under the rule of the Roman Emperor, Nero, described its use in a medical volume he’d written. Dioscorides found that the oil could be used to cleanse wounds and salve burns when applied externally. Soon, Roman soldiers were carrying lavender oil with them to dress battle wounds.
The Egyptians placed lavender in the urns buried along with loved ones in the pyramids and used the oil in their mummification process. They also used it in cosmetics, massage oils, and some early medicines using as expectorants and antispasmodics.
Queen Victoria of England found lavender to be very useful during the Victorian Age. She ordered her staff to use the oil to disinfect floors and furniture, in addition to adding it to all of the castle’s linens for its delicious perfume. Soon the rest of England followed her cue, placing the scent of lavender on everything and growing the plant in home gardens.
The Pilgrims brought lavender to America in 1620 for its medicinal uses. Eventually, it was widely discovered that the oil from lavender had medical and many other purposes.
One of the founders of today’s aromatherapy treatments, French scientist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, confirmed the healing and cleansing properties of lavender when he burned his hand working in a perfume laboratory back in 1910. He placed his injured hand into the closest tube of liquid available, which happened to be lavender oil.
His pain was alleviated, followed by a quick healing process without any scarring or infection. Thus began his fascination with essential oils such as lavender. He went on to experiment with these substances, helping spread the use of lavender oil on the wounds of soldiers in fighting the World War I and paving the way for its future uses in modern times.
Today, the largest area in the world that produces lavender for commercial reasons lies in the Provence region of France. Early in the 20th century and just prior to World War I, lavender production for making perfumes in France was becoming widespread. The French government at the time wished to keep people from leaving Provence, so almond orchards were cleared away to make room for more lavender plantings.
Benefits of Lavender Oil
Stress and anxiety reduction
The sweet aroma of lavender has long been associated with mood improvement. Today, people use it in aromatherapy and as dietary supplements to treat anxiety and boost calm feelings.
Research has shown lavender to be effective as a natural remedy for anxiety with no adverse side effects. The oil can be taken by mouth in capsules. You can also add six drops to your bath water for a relaxing daily soak.
Try lavender oil to relax you into slumber. Studies performed at the England’s University of Southampton diffused the scent of lavender oil in rooms throughout the night where half of the study’s participants slept.
Those volunteers reported a 20% improvement in their sleep quality over the non-lavender participants. Place a few drops of the essential onto your pillow before retiring.
Many different types of bugs hate the smell of lavender. One of the most annoying of these insects is the mosquito. Lab studies show that lavender oil’s natural phytochemicals can effectively repel mosquitoes when applied to human skin.
Its scent is pleasant to people yet keeps away pesky and disease-carrying bugs like mosquitoes and other biting insects without having to resort to applying potentially dangerous chemicals to our bodies. Make your own lavender bug spray and apply every few hours to ward off bugs.
Lavender can help calm and battle blemishes on your skin. Instead of turning to drug store chemicals or pricey prescription medicines to fight acne breakouts, try a more natural, affordable solution for your sensitive skin.
Lavender oil is soothing and offers fantastic benefits to skin due to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Lavender essential oil aids in drying skin as it clears up acne and relieves the stress that often results in breakouts. Apply the oil directly to affected areas of skin.
Arthritis, Sciatica, Aching muscles, and inflammation can be relieved using lavender oil. This essential oil is a known anti- inflammatory agent that reduces body aches caused by sore muscles.
Mix about 3 drops of the oil together with a tablespoon of coconut oil and massage the areas that ache. It also helps relieve stress than can heighten your pain if you add a few drops of oil to a diffuser before retiring for the night.
Increased urine production
If you have a urinary disorder, such as bladder inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI), or cystitis, lavender oil helps stimulate urine production in a natural manner, cleansing your urinary system more rapidly. If you get UTIs, adding 10 drops of lavender oil to a sitz bath on a regular basis can help prevent recurrences.
Lavender oil can help you get relief from respiratory issues caused by colds, the flu, bronchitis, cough, and sinus congestion.
It helps ease breathing when your sinuses and lungs are full of phlegm. Apply a few drops of the essential oil onto your neck, back, or chest for soothing relief.
If your hair is thinning or falling out due to the autoimmune disease, alopecia, or because of genetics, lavender oil is a natural remedy that has the added bonus of providing you with a sense of serenity.
A dermatological study in Scotland tested the use of lavender oils massaged onto the scalps of alopecia patients. Forty-four percent of the patients experienced new hair growth after using this essential oil over a seven- month period.
Increase blood circulation
Improving your blood flow is important to ensure that all of your body’s vital organs are getting the proper nutrition necessary for health and function.
Stimulating your blood circulation can boost your energy, and relieve numbness and tingling caused by poor circulation of blood, especially in the hands, feet, and legs.
You can dilute lavender essential in a base oil such as almond or coconut oil, and massage onto the parts of the body where you wish to boost blood flow. It’s also helpful in lowering blood pressure due to its calming, restorative effects.
Lavender can aid in prompting the production of gastric juices and bile to help alleviate stomach pain, indigestion, colic, diarrhea, and intestinal gas.
The use of lavender oil has been shown to work as an antispasmodic, relaxing certain muscles and having a sedating effect.
You can dilute the lavender oil with a carrier oil (jojoba, avocado, olive, coconut or sweet almond oil) and apply it topically to help relieve stomach pain or bloating. Rubbing a few drops of the oil onto the bottom of your feet is also helpful.
Boost immunity levels
The detoxifying and soothing effects of lavender oil can help boost your immune system.
This essential oil has been showing to lower the release of cortisol (a stress hormone) in your body. When too much cortisol is released in your system, your immunity to disease is lowered.
When you’re overworked and overstressed, you tend to get sick more often. Boost your immune system by suppressing cortisol and stress levels with lavender oil either placed in a diffuser in the bedroom or rub a few drops mixed with a carrier oil onto your skin.
Whether it’s a sunburn or a burn from touching a hot pot, lavender oil can give you immediate relief, as Rene-Maurice Gattefosse realized back in the early 1900s.
The linalyl acetate and linalool that are inherent in lavender have analgesic and anesthetic properties, while its small percentage of terpinen acts as an antibacterial agent.
For minor first degree burns, such as sunburn, and some second degree burns that blister and are painful, you can use lavender oil as a home treatment by applying a few drops directly onto the affected area.
Fight against premature wrinkles naturally when you moisturize your skin with lavender oil.
The essential oil’s blood circulating properties also increase blood flow to your thinning skin tissues and helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to skin more effectively for an improved, more youthful appearance.
Mix a few drops of lavender oil in a teaspoon of a carrier oil and apply to your face nightly, avoiding getting any oil in your eyes.
Treatment for eczema
Eczema is a skin condition also known as atopic dermatitis. It can cause the skin to become inflamed, irritated, itchy, red, rough, and cracked. Because lavender oil is an antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-fungal agent, it is very useful for soothing eczema and its symptoms.
A mixture of lavender oil and water in a spray bottle can be spritzed onto skin as a simple treatment. The oil can also be combined with a scent-free lotion containing shea butter and rubbed onto the skin.
Whether you have a migraine or just a tension headache, lavender oil can offer you relief from pain without having to resort to medications.
Lavender oil can be used effectively and safely to relieve migraine pain, according to recent scientific studies by inhaling its vapors when the oil is added to boiling water or when massaged directly into the skin.
Homemade Recipes For Lavender Oil
1. Develop Your Own Natural Insect Repellent:
If you’re going to spend some time outdoors in the warm weather, it’s smart to protect yourself from biting mosquitoes and other flying insects. Prepare a natural, homemade bug spray or lotion to keep mosquitoes from biting. These annoying insects not only leave you with welts that can get extremely itchy; they also may carry diseases such as the West Nile virus or the Zika virus.
Rather than applying a commercially made insect repellent that contains harmful DEET and other harsh ingredients, create your own natural solution using lavender to keep mosquitoes away. It’s easy and quick to make a batch of this pleasant-smelling bug protectant.
- 2 tablespoons of witch hazel
- 2 tablespoons of either olive oil, grapeseed oil, or jojoba oil, or a combination of these amounting to 2 tbsp
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vodka (as a preservative)
- 110-110 drops of lavender essential oil
- Place the witch hazel, oil, and vodka in a small spray bottle, about 3-4 ounces in size. Add the essential oil.
- Shake well before each use.
- Reapply every few hours while outdoors for full effectiveness.
2. Lavender Oil Hair Growth Mixture:
You can lose your hair for a number of reasons. There is male pattern baldness, female diffuse hair loss (a gradual thinning of hair), and alopecia areata, a rejection of hair follicles causing hair to fall out. The causes of hair loss can be due to aging, heredity, illnesses, certain medications, malnutrition, and even smoking.
There are prescription drug therapies available for hair regrowth, but using aromatherapy oils, such as lavender, has also been proven an effective therapy for hair growth. An essential mixture made at home can be massaged into the scalp for hair renewal. The massaging action itself helps increase blood circulation needed for growth and greatly reduces the stress that can speed up hair loss.
- 4 drops of lavender oil
- 5 drops of rosemary oil
- 3 drops of thyme oil
- 1⁄4 cup of liquid coconut oil
- Combine the ingredients in a 16-ounce applicator squeeze bottle. Shake well.
- Section off your hair so you can squeeze the oil a little bit at a time onto your scalp.
- When you’ve covered your whole scalp with the oil mixture, massage with your fingertips for 5 minutes.
- Wash your hair as usual after waiting for 60 minutes.
3. Massage Oil
A therapeutic massage can feel wonderful for your aching muscles and relieve stress. Mixing up a massage oil treatment that contains lavender oil will heighten your experience, as this essential oil is a natural stress-reliever, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory agent. A lavender-based massage oil can soothe muscular aches as it relaxes your mind and body, and elevates your mood.
- Lavender essential oil
- Carrier oil: use either sweet almond, apricot, or grapeseed oil for quick, non-greasy absorbance. You can alternatively use jojoba or olive oil.
- Mix together 1-5 drops of lavender oil to each teaspoon of carrier oil. As a guide, if you’re using a two-ounce-sized bottle, place no more than 30 drops of lavender to the two-ounce bottle.
- Fill the rest of the bottle with the carrier oil.
- Cap it tightly and store it in a cool, dark spot.
- Before use, shake well.
4. Anti-Aging, Anti-Wrinkle Treatment
The anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-aging properties of lavender oil can help stave off fine facial lines, age spots from sun exposure, wrinkles and other signs of aging. These essential oil lets nutrients reach your skin cells without clogging your pores, as some commercial creams and serums do.
- 10 drops of lavender oil
- 2 ounces of liquid coconut oil
- A dark glass bottle (for keeping ingredients from deteriorating in sunlight).
5. Cure for Eczema
The skin condition eczema can cause your skin to exhibit small bumps or blisters that are red and scaling. It’s often itchy and makes the skin feel irritated and rough. There are prescription medications available for eczemas such as steroids or antibiotics, but they can be addictive and expensive.
Lavender oil relieves stress, which can sometimes cause eczema flare-ups. But this essential oil also has to cleanse, antibacterial properties that can help skin calm down from the inside out, balancing the skin’s nutrients and reducing stress. You can make either a spray or lotion to treat your eczema symptoms and find relief.
> Ingredients for Eczema-Relieving Spray:
- 10 drops of lavender oil.
- 1 cup of distilled or tap water
- Mix these ingredients together and place into a spray bottle.
- Shake well before applying to the affected areas of your body as needed for relief from itching and irritation.
> Ingredients for Eczema-Relieving Lotion:
- A jar of a fragrance-free lotion that contains either shea butter or vitamin E
- 10-15 drops of lavender oil
- Add the lavender oil to the jar of lotion.
- Mix the oil and lotion together well, using a spoon.
- Rub the lotion into the skin using a gentle circular motion.
6. Treatment For Burns
Lessen the pain caused by burns as you also promote skin healing and regeneration of cells and tissues. Lavender oil for burns can also lessen your chance of developing scars and infections from first or second-degree burns. Make a topical spray or use a homemade compress.
Use only on first- or second-degree burns. If you have a third-degree burn (the skin appears to be severely damaged, is white or charred with a leathery look), do not use this home remedy. Instead, you should seek professional medical attention.
> Ingredients for spray:
- 10 drops of lavender oil
- 10 drops of peppermint oil
- 1⁄2 cup of aloe vera juice
- 1/8 cup of fractionated coconut oil
- Add two inches of tap water to a pot and place over medium heat.
- Place the aloe vera juice and coconut oil in a jar.
- Put the jar in the saucepot and stir to dissolve the mixture.
- Remove from heat.
- Remove the glass jar from the pot and add the oils.
- Mix together well.
- Pour this blend into a spray bottle and store in a cool, dark location.
- Spray onto the affected skin as necessary.
> Ingredients for compress:
- 5 drops lavender oil
- 1 pint of cool water
- Place the above ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
- Place a clean cloth in the bowl to get it soaked.
- Squeeze the cloth so it’s not dripping and remove from bowl.
- Place onto the affected skin area, leaving it there for at least 15 minutes This can be repeated 3 times a day until the burn is healed.
7. Acne Skin Treatment Blend
Essential lavender oil has amazing anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, perfect for cleansing skin, keeping acne at bay or treating breakouts. You can treat individual pimples by dipping a Q-tip in water and placing a drop of lavender oil on. Apply directly to the blemish.
If body acne is an issue, add a few drops of the oil to your bath water and soak for 15 minutes. The lavender oil does not excessively dry the skin like some acne medicines can. It’s good for sensitive skin as it’s non-irritating, yet has astringent properties to clear pores and renew the skin.
- 3 drops of lavender essential oil
- 3 drops of either frankincense, patchouli or geranium essential oil
- 3 drops of tea tree essential oil
- 1 tablespoon of carrier oil (jojoba, sweet almond or coconut oil)
- Place the ingredients together into an amber, glass bottle. Shake gently to mix.
- Massage 2-3 drops of the blend onto the skin every night.
8. Migraine Headache Massage Oil
A migraine headache can be debilitating, sending most people to their beds in a darkened room. These headaches can cause visual disturbances, such as sensitivity to light, and sound sensitivities that can accompany intense pain. Some people also experience nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, and other upsetting symptoms. You can help stop and alleviate an oncoming migraine headache with the help of a compress containing essential oils.
- 4-5 drops of lavender oil
- 4-5 drops of peppermint oil
- 4-5 drops of marjoram oil
- 5 drops of a carrier oil (argan oil, coconut oil, sweet almond, jojoba, or grapeseed oil)
Combine the oils together in a dark, glass bottle. Massage the temples and forehead with a bit of oil as needed. Store in a cool, dark spot.