Lavender is probably the most popular of all the essential oils used in Aromatherapy. With its easily recognisable green/grey leaves, wonderful long stems, purple ‘nut-like’ shaped flowers and famous floral fragrance. The most commonly used variety of Lavender is Lavandula angustifolia which has a synonym of Lavandula officinalis. There are, however, over 40 different varieties of lavender. It is important to know which one you are using as some have different properties and even some cautions assigned to them. This article is all about Lavandula angustifolia, how to use it and the benefits of Lavender essential oil.
Origin & History
Grown across the world, the evergreen shrub originates from the Mediterranean, growing wild in sunny, dry areas. Lavender belongs to the Lamiaceae family, where you will find most of the leafy herbs that have been traditionally used in herbal medicine, such as Rosemary, Mint and Sage. Lavender is grown throughout southern Europe, most famously in Grasse, France. However, Lavender is also grown in Bulgaria and right here in the UK, too. You can visit Lavender farms to see the amazing purple fields in bloom during the summer months, which is a beautiful sight!
Lavender comes from the word ‘lavare’, meaning to wash and was used throughout ancient Europe to scent bathing water. During the Middle Ages, Lavender was used as a ‘strewing herb’; when a plant is placed on the floor around the home and as the plant is walked on, it releases its aroma. It was also used in a ‘nosegay’, a bundle of aromatic plants tied into a posy so that you could lift it easily to your nose to disguise the not-so-pleasant smells around you. The Middle Ages were not that fragrant!
The benefits of Lavender essential oil
Lavender essential oil is contained in the tiny star-shaped plant hairs (trichomes) that cover the flowers, leaves and stems, which is why it is so easy to smell the aroma just by touching the plant. Lavender essential oil is steam distilled from the flowering tops of the plant and is one of the most widely used essential oils and has been studied in trials to ascertain its efficacy. In certain clinical trials, it has been shown to aid sleep and act as a powerful antiseptic, skin healer and effective pain reliever.
The aroma of Lavender is intensely floral, softly sweet with a medicinal fresh note, and blends easily with most other essential oils.
Here are a few blends with Lavender for you to try at home.
Bedtime Diffuser Blend:
Add the following essential oils to the water in your Aroma Spa Diffuser at least 20 mins before retiring to bed. This will allow the aromas to fill your bedroom. Turn off the diffuser as you turn out the lights.
3 drops of Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
3 drops of Bergamot – Citrus bergamia
2 drops of Roman Chamomile – Anthemis nobilis
Moisturising Face Oil
Add the following essential oils to 20ml of Jojoba Blending Oil:
2 drops of Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
1 drop of Neroli – Citrus aurantium
1 drop of Frankincense – Boswellia carterii
Apply after your normal cleansing routine. Take your time to massage the blend slowly and gently over the face, inhaling the aromas as you work the blend into your skin. This amount should last several applications. Suitable for all skin types.
Soothing Bath Oil
Add the following essential oils to 20ml of a Blending Oil of your choice:
2 drops of Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
1 drop of Vetiver – Vetiveria zizanoides
3 drops of Mandarin – Citrus reticulata
This is a wonderful blend to help you relax after a long stressful day. It will encourage a good night’s sleep and leave your skin feeling moisturised. Run your bath to desired temperature and depth, then add 2-3 teaspoons of the blend. Stir the water before getting in, lie back and inhale the sumptuous aromas.
Always take care getting in and out of the bath, as the oil may make the surface slippery.
Let us know in the comments how you are using your Lavender essential oil.
About Jo Kellett
Our essential oil expert, Jo Kellett TIDHA MIFPA CIMI, graduated from the Tisserand Institute of Holistic Aromatherapy in 1996. She returned to the college in 1999 as an Essential Oil Therapeutics Tutor, where she taught until the college closed. Jo runs a successful private Aromatherapy practice in Brighton, specialising in Women’s health. Jo is also an internationally published author and has lectured on the subject of Aromatherapy both in the UK and abroad.
For more information on Jo Kellett, check out her website or Instagram.