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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lavender: A Medicine Cabinet Must!—updated

Touted as the most versatile of all the essential oils, I believe lavender is a must-have for everyone. Here’s why. As with all essential oils, lavender is antiseptic and antibacterial, it has a natural calming effect, and lavender is a contact healer—especially good for burns as well as the itch and inflammation of bug bites. It is a great aid for people who experience any skin irritations and more specifically, blemishes

For years I recommended essential oil of geranium as “the” extract to use on blemishes. And for years I have heard clients complain about the aroma of geranium: it’s not the most pleasant. A geranium plant is lovely to look at; the essential oil isn’t so pleasant to smell after applying to your face. Because of this, I now recommend essential oil of lavender as my go-to spot treatment for blemishes.

Lavender is pleasing to most noses and has so many uses in the household, I truly want everyone to have it in their medicine cabinets. Here are some of lavender’s many attributes.
  • If you are having trouble sleeping, put a few drops of essential oil of lavender on your pillow (or on a handkerchief), and let the relaxing melody of this essence soothe you to sleep. It makes a nice addition to your travel bag since traveling often means a poor night’s sleep.
  • Lavender is soothing to burns. For instance, if you have burned yourself on a hot stove or an iron, lavender will quickly take out the burning sensation. My number one recommendation for sunburns is aloe vera gel, but for any other kind of burn lavender works wonders.
  • Lavender is also a great bug bite de-itcher (is that a word!?). Simply put a drop of this essential oil on any bite that stings or itches and relief is on the way, almost instantly.
  • Lavender can be a bug repellent. My experience is that the amount I have to apply in order to truly keep the bugs away is just too much of an aromatic adventure. You may love smelling like a walking lavender plant, it’s just not for me.
  • Using an essential oil diffuser is a wonderful way to get beautiful aromatics of any oil(s) infused into your home environment. Diffusers are easy to use; some are electric (plug-in), some are simple ceramic pieces where a candle goes below and the essential oil on top. The heat from the candle gently diffuses the oil’s essence into the air.
  • Before I put clean sheets on my bed, I put several drops of lavender on the mattress, up toward where my head will be. Putting it lower is fine, but my feet can’t smell the lavender, my nose can! I also put a few drops on my pillows before putting the cases on. That first night climbing into my bed with clean, lavender-y sheets is heaven. After a few days, the essence fades away, but you can always reapply.
  • Put 10-15 drops of lavender in your bath. Lie back and soak in the soothing tones of this calming essential oil while relaxing in your tub. If you have tired, sore muscles, add some Epsom salts as well.

I read somewhere that if you have nausea or motion sickness, to put a drop of lavender on the tip of your tongue to help alleviate the symptoms. I can tell you this emphatically—if you put lavender or most any essential oil in your mouth, tip of the tongue or wherever, you will find your symptoms are gone because you have 100% attention on the horrible taste in your mouth! Not only do essential oils taste nasty, their essence is long-lasting. This bad taste will be with you for hours. Don’t put lavender in your mouth!

There are many more uses for lavender oil. Above are my favorites, you may find others you love too. If you do a search and see sites that say “50 Uses for Lavender” and others like it, do be careful. Putting lavender in your mouth is out. Using it on minor scrapes and cuts can be beneficial. Using lavender for major injuries or open skin can in some cases cause more irritation than any antibacterial benefits you’d receive. Use caution, but use lavender essential oiloften! I truly believe it is a medicine cabinet must!

For more details, see:

UPDATE:

A friend recently fell onto flagstone stairs—ouch! The stone sliced her jeans like a knife through butter and her shin and skin underneath got cut pretty badly. Luckily it was just one leg that was affected. She was experiencing edema (swelling) along with significant pain and bruising. It would have been beneficial to put her leg up (elevated) so the fluids wouldn’t pool in her lower leg and foot. However, for this active lady this wasn’t possible.

When I saw her, the event was several days old, but the pain was persistent and ongoing. I asked her if she’d be willing to use lavender on it, a known anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. Nope. How about arnica, another anti-inflammatory herb that also helps release pooled blood, like in the case of a hematoma or common bruise. Again, no.

I was staying with this friend, and one night we were playing cards and the pain was increasing in her leg. She was uncomfortable, to put it mildly. I grabbed some lavender water her husband had made (not even the full-strength essential oil, which I didn’t have on hand) and applied it to her injured leg. I guess since her partner made it from their garden, she trusted this product! The next morning she said her leg felt significantly better. I was so happy she was willing to try some lavender—finally. She joked it must have been a coincidence.

No coincidence, it was just the amazing healing power of herbs and essential essences. Even lavender water, which has a much lower strength than the essential oil, did a good job at helping to combat the inflammation and edema she was experiencing. I doubt this friend will continue to use the lavender water in the future, but this really is what needs to be done in order to speed the healing of her injury.

My point yet again: give essential oils a try. They really do work—even on skeptics!

A skeptic in the making