Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Aromatherapy – The very versatile Lavender

Twenty years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. It is not something that I have covered here on the blog, and I am looking forward to refreshing my memory from my course notes. and introducing you to this relaxing therapy at the same time.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

This week I am going to be covering one of the most common essential oils in use. Lavender Oil is found in skincare products, perfumes and also contains some pretty impressive natural healing properties.

Lavender from Tasmania, England and France uses the flowers.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skincare, Massage
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: None indicated.

The essential oil that we use today is usually from the common lavender (lavendula officinalis or Lavendula augustifolia).  There are other varieties of lavender such as spike lavender that has a different effect on the body and mind. Check with your supplier and avoid any essential oils that are not made from the common variety as they are not usually suitable for home use and are used in commercial preparations.

If you have traveled through the South of France between June and August you will see the lavender fields at their best. It is an amazing sight and from small plots on hillsides, grown by local farmers and villages, there are now acres of purple plants stretching for miles.

The name lavender probably originates from the Latin Lavare ‘to wash’ or livere ‘bluish in colour’.

We are not the first to make use of this multi-talented flower as the Greeks used for top to tail health including sore throats and constipation. The Romans gave their famous baths the lavender treatment for its fragrance and antiseptic properties. In medieval times herbalists would recommend lavender water for head lice and laundries would use to keep linens fresh and the moths at bay. Bed bugs were a real issue then and using fresh lavender in the sheets kept them away.

When I was learning about essential oils 20 years ago, I was fascinated to discover how different cultures could discover not just existing healing properties hundreds of years apart, but also new ones that enriched the essential oil’s reputation. This applies to lavander. Chemist Rene Gattefosse was working in his father’s perfume factory when there was a small explosion and he burnt his hand. He covered it in lavender essential oil and was amazed how quickly it healed without infection setting in.

This inspired him to research all the essential oils and the therapeutic properties and the result was the book Aromatherapie… giving us the English word we use for essential oils.

Health Benefits of Lavender Oil

It is an all round family friendly essential oil but it is still not recommended to use essential oils for children under five, unless under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist.

  • It is very useful to smooth a drop of lavender essential oil over bruises once or twice a day.
  • Diluted lavender oil smoothed around the neck and temples, overlaid with two drop of the pure oil may alleviate headaches.
  • Some diluted lavender oil combined with 1 drop of chamomile essential oil at bath time for children can calm them after a stressful day.
  • For adults you can blend 2.5ml of lavender oil with a drip each of pure mandarin and geranium essential oil for a soothing and relaxing bath.
  • If you are lucky enough to have an extended period of sunshine, then you can mix 5ml of soothing Aloe Vera Gel with 5 drops of Lavender pure oil and spread over any pink areas of skin.
  • You can also cool down after a day in the sun by keeping 250ml of still mineral water combined with 20 drops of pure lavender oil in an atomiser in the refrigerator.
  • Any mild burns in the kitchen can be cooled first under the cold water tap and then apply neat lavender oil. Cover with a gauze, and change the dressing regularly. When it begins to heal use the aloe vera gel and oil mix that I detailed above.
  • The oils antiseptic properties also come in use for skin conditions such as eczema, insomnia, bacterial infections, teenage acne, and when rubbed into joints relieve the pain of rheumatism and arthritis.
  • In a blended massage oil, lavender is calming and relaxing.
  • Add 2 drops of lavender oil and 2 drops of eucalyptus oil to a small bowl of very hot water and place by your bed to help you sleep.
  • Use the dried lavender, infused with lavender oil in small organza sachets for use in your linen cupboard or clothes drawers.
  • Lavender can be combined with other oils in a diffuser to naturally scent your home.

Lavender essential oil and pets.

There are some oils that are not pet friendly so do check before using as they can be toxic. I do suggest that you research each oil individually or talk to a holistic vet before using.

Lavender oil is considered safe to be used in small quantities and especially in the fight against one of the most difficult parasite to get rid of.. Fleas. There is however a major problem and that is not to get the wash anywhere near a dog or cat’s eyes. That is difficult with cats who use their paws to rub across their faces.

For dogs you can make a wash from 600ml warm water, 2 drops of essential oil and 2 drops of cedarwood oil. I have used a plastic hair brush dipped in the wash and then drawn through the dogs coat from the back of the head down the back and then the sides. Avoid the face and also any delicate bits and pieces.

For cats you can adapt a fabric collar dipped in 150ml of water 5 ml of alcohol (vodka is best as it does not have the pungent smell) 3 drops of lavender oil and 3 drops of citronella. Let the collar thoroughly dry and then repeat every 6 weeks or as needed.

You can also make a collar for dogs who are carsick or get excited easily by using a diluted oil, drying the collar completely and then using when traveling. Also perhaps coming up to Firework displays or large family gatherings.

The best essential oils to blend with Lavender.

Cedarwood from Algeria and Morocco is extracted from the wood.

  • Scent: Woody
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Balancing
  • Safety: Avoid in Pregnancy

Jasmine from Egypt, India and France and uses the flowers.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Inhalation, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Reassuring
  • Safety: 24hour test on sensitive skin.

Mandarin is made from the peel of the fruit and comes from Brazil, Algeria and Argentina.

  • Scent: Citrus
  • Usage: Bath, massage, skin care
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: Avoid exposure to sunlight.

Neroli is made from the flowers and comes from Morocco, Tunisia and France.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin care, massage, baths
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated

Thank you for joining me today and I hope you have found interesting – You will find the directory with the links to the other posts in the series here

 

 

21 thoughts on “Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Aromatherapy – The very versatile Lavender

  1. Pingback: Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Aromatherapy – The very versatile Lavender | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. I’ve never tired lavender on my bath – I tend to take showers – but I associate with my mother, who always had a ton of lavender in her rock garden. She often gave me lavender sachets. Now I have a patch of it growing at my lake house.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Aretha Franklin, Barbara Villiers, Horseradish and Esme’s Predictions! | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  4. Many years ago I recieved a really bad insect bite which was really nasty a friend recommended I soaked my foot in water with the addition of lavender oil and that I also put some around the said bite although not directly on the actual infected part . I had previously been left with a scar from another such infection .This cleared up without even leaving a scar…a wonderful oil

    Liked by 1 person

      • I am sure you look 40 with your glasses on… I put Frankincense under my tongue a friend of mine who was very, very ill with Cancer..took to the internet and this is a man’s man who didn’t do computers, done a lot of research, devised his own plan..Changed his eating habits completely and if you saw him now 3 years later ..I have seen him at his worst and now at his healthy best. He puts 6 drops of frankincense and 6 drops chamomile under his tongue daily..Did other things as well but his doctors were just amazed and so were we 🙂 xxx Seeing is believing 🙂 xxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is an amazing story Carol.. There is no doubt that cancer treatments do save lives but I am not sure that when you get to a certain age, your body finds the treatment worse than the disease. Killing off your immune system is not going to end well and at least now there are more targeted options. The old ways have been thrown out as being hocus pocus. But from my perspective they are very important from a preventative perspective and when used with a healthy diet may just boost our immune systems sufficiently to prevent rogue cells from increasing in the first place. xxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is Sally… He just cut out all processed foods, stopped smoking, drinking well except for dandelion root tea…I thought he was a goner..but no..fighting fit and yes I do think you are correct when you are older your body can’t cope with aggressive treatments… I know that what John did and does woudn’t work for everyone but I suppose it is finding what does work for each individual and not everyone reacts as quick or has the time left..Bit of a lottery isn’t it ? 🙂 xxx

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