Lavender is a classical plant that has been used since ancient times, in one form or another, and remains in popular use today. There are many different types of lavender, including a myriad of lavender cultivars; some species of lavender are more suitable for health applications than others, although the fragrance of all lavender species makes it a favorite plant to have around, whatever the circumstances. Here are 5 tips on how to use lavender essential oil.
1. Lavender and Aromatherapy
True lavender, identified by the Latin name of Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis or sometimes Lavandula vera, is the most popular species of lavender to use in aromatherapy; however, there are also other species of lavender, including the lavender hybrid, Lavandin, that are also used in aromatherapy, so check the Latin name to identify the type of lavender essential oil you are using.
Lavender is one of the most versatile essential oils that is used in aromatherapy because of the wide range of properties that it possesses (source: Aromatherapy: An A – Z by Patricia Davis). Use lavender essential oil to treat muscular pain, headaches, arthritis, menstrual pain, childhood ailments, stress, eczema, asthma and depression (source: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless). Consult a qualified aromatherapist if you are not sure how to use essential oils in aromatherapy.
2. Lavender for Cooking
Lavender flowers are sometimes added to culinary dishes such as stews and vinegars; Julia Lawless, in The Aromatherapy Garden, suggests using lavender flowers for lamb stuffing and Provençal stews. You can also use lavender essential oil in chicken, fish, rice, pasta, desserts and ice cream dishes (source: The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood); lavender is used to make honey and jams too. However, culinary dishes with lavender are often an acquired taste and may not be to everyone’s liking.
3. Lavender as a Health Aid
Lavender has been present in herb and medicinal gardens for centuries. Julia Lawless writes in The Aromatherapy Garden that lavender was used to alleviate poor sanitary conditions and musty smells in Medieval times. Today, lavender is often made into a tea in France because of its sedative and anti-depressant properties. It is also used as a tincture and infusion. Lavender is added to soaps, bath salts and lotions too – but it may not always be in “pure” form; many lavender bath products contain a synthetic lavender fragrance which does not contain the same health giving properties as true lavender.
4. Lavender for Decorative Purposes
Dried lavender flowers are popular for using as potpourris or adding to sachets; these were common in our grandmother’s era as lavender kept away moths. However, today the use of lavender in such forms is just as valuable to repel insects and unwanted smells in the home. You can also use lavender flowers as decoration, both in dried and fresh form, in vases around the house.
5. Lavender in the Garden
Lavender plants in the garden add both fragrance and color to any garden, no matter how small or large your garden is. Lavender species and hybrids may vary in color but the classic lavender plant has blue-violet flowers with a strong aromatic fragrance. Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region and prefers sun to shade to truly thrive but it can also be grown in pots and moved around the yard (and indoors for cooler nights). A walk through a lavender-filled garden is instantly calming and may improve your health in more ways than one!
- Davis, Patricia, Aromatherapy: An A- Z, Vermilion
- Lawless, Julia, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Thorsons
- Lawless, Julia, The Aromatherapy Garden, Kyle Cathie Ltd
- Worwood, Valerie Ann, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, New World Library