Lavender oil is an essential oil obtained by distillation from the flower spikes of certain species of lavender. Two forms are distinguished, lavender flower oil, a colourless oil, insoluble in water, having a density of 0.885 g/mL; and lavender spike oil, a distillate from the herb Lavandula latifolia, having density 0.905 g/mL. Lavender flower oil is a designation of the National Formulary and the British Pharmacopoeia. Like all essential oils, it is not a pure compound; it is a complex mixture of naturally occurring phytochemicals, including linalool and linalyl acetate. Kashmir Lavender oil is famous for being produced from lavender at the foothills of the Himalayas. As of 2011, the biggest lavender oil producer in the world is Bulgaria.
Lavender is an herb. The flower and the oil of lavender are used to make medicine. Lavender is used for restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, and depression. It is also used for a variety of digestive complaints including meteorism (abdominal swelling from gas in the intestinal or peritoneal cavity), loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas (flatulence), and upset stomach.
Some people use lavender for painful conditions including migraine headaches, toothaches, sprains, nerve pain, sores, and joint pain. It is also used for acne and cancer, and to promote menstruation. Lavender is applied to the skin for hair loss (alopecia areata) and pain, and to repel mosquitoes and other insects. Some people add lavender to bathwater to treat circulation disorders and improve mental wellbeing.
By inhalation, lavender is used as aromatherapy for insomnia, pain, and agitation related to dementia. In foods and beverages, lavender is used as a flavour component. In manufacturing, lavender is used in pharmaceutical products and as a fragrance ingredient in soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, potpourri, and decorations. Lavender (scientific name Lavandula angustifolia) is commonly contaminated with related species, including Lavandula hybrida, which is a cross between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia, from which Lavender oil is obtained.
Multi-Uses of Lavender Oil
Rub 2-3 drops of lavender oil in your cupped palms, then use the inhalation method to draw the scent all the way into your amygdala gland (the emotional warehouse) in your brain to calm the mind. Then, rub on the feet, temples, wrists (or anywhere) for an immediate calming effect on the body. Great for use in crowded areas like planes or subways to carve out your own personal oasis.
2. Sleep aid
Again, use the cupping and inhalation method. Then, rub a drop of Lavender oil on your palms and smooth on your pillow to help you sleep.
3. Bee sting / Insect bite
Put a drop of Lavender oil on a bee sting or insect bite to stop itching reduce swelling.
4. Minor burn
Put 2-3 drops Lavender oil on a minor burn to decrease pain. I recently did this after I spilled scorching hot tea on my hand at Starbucks and luckily had my lavender with me. Result: NO redness, swelling or pain. NO sign of any burn. Lavender works wonders!
Drop Lavender oil on cut to stop bleeding, clean wound, and kill bacteria.
6. Eczema / Dermatitis
Mix several drops of Lavender oil with a nut or vegetable mixing oil (coconut, sesame, etc) and use topically on eczema and dermatitis. I have a dear friend who suffers from severe eczema and swears by this.
7. Nausea or motion sickness
To alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness, place a drop of Lavender oil on end of tongue, behind the ears or around the navel.
To stop a nosebleed, put a drop of lavender oil on a tissue and wrap it around a small chip of ice. Push the tissue covered ice chip up under the middle of the top lip to the base of the nose and hold as long as comfortable or until the bleeding stops (do not freeze the lip or gum).
9. Dry or chapped skin
Rub lavender oil on dry or chapped skin.
10. Chapped or sunburned lips
Rub a drop of lavender oil on chapped or sunburned lips.
11. Hay fever.
Rub a drop of lavender oil between your palms and inhale deeply to help alleviate the symptoms of hay fever.
Rub several drops of lavender oil into the scalp to help eliminate dandruff.
13. Cold sores.
Put a drop of lavender oil on a cold sore.
Therapeutic uses of Lavender oil
Lavender oil, which has long been used in the production of perfume, can also be used in aromatherapy. The scent has a calming effect which may aid in relaxation and the reduction of anxiety and stress. Lasea capsules containing lavender oil with a high amount of linalool and linalyl acetate, termed Silexan by the manufacturer, are approved as an anxiolytic in Germany. The approval is based on a finding that the capsules are comparable in effect to low-dose lorazepam. It may also help to relieve pain from tension headache when breathed in as vapour or diluted and rubbed on the skin. When added to a vaporizer, lavender oil may aid in the treatment of cough and respiratory infection.
Lavender oil use in Alternative Medicine
According to advocates of alternative medicine, lavender oil can be used as an antiseptic and pain reliever to be applied to minor burns and insect bites and stings.
It is also said to treat a variety of common ailments, such as sunburn and sunstroke. It can also be used in massage oil mixtures, which may be effective in the relief of joint and muscle pain, or in chest rub mixtures for the relief of asthmatic and bronchitic spasm. It is also said to treat head lice when used in a hair rinse mixture, or on a fine comb to eliminate nits. One study suggests application of lavender essential oil instead of povidone-iodine for episiotomy wound care.
In vitro, lavender oil is cytotoxic as well as photosensitizing. A study demonstrated that lavender oil is cytotoxic to human skin cells in vitro (endothelial cells and fibroblasts) at a concentration of 0.25%. Linalool, a component of lavender oil, reflected the activity of the whole oil, indicating that linalool may be the active component of lavender oil. The result of another study showed that aqueous extracts reduced mitotic index, but induced chromosome aberrations and mitotic aberrations in comparison with control, significantly.
Aqueous extracts induced breaks, stickiness, pole deviations and micronuclei. Furthermore, these effects were related to extract concentrations.
However, according to a 2005 study “although it was recently reported that lavender oil, and its major constituent linalyl acetate, are toxic to human skin cells in vitro, contact dermatitis to lavender oil appears to occur at only a very low frequency. The relevance of this in vitro toxicity to dermatological application of Lavandula oils remains unclear.”
In terms of photo toxicity, a 2007 investigative report from European researchers stated that, “Lavender oil and sandalwood oil did not induce photohaemolysis in our test system.
However, a few reports on photosensitivity reactions due to these substances have been published, e.g. one patient with persistent light reaction and a positive photo-patch test to sandalwood oil.”
Oil of spike lavender has also occasionally been used as a solvent in oil painting, mainly before the use of distilled turpentine became common. For instance Francisco Pacheco mentions the use of lavender oil in his book “Arte de la pintura” (1649).
Composition of Lavender oil
The primary components of lavender oil are linalool (51%) and linalyl acetate (35%). Other components include a-pinene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, cis- and trans-ocimene, 3- octanone, camphor, caryophyllene, terpinen-4-ol and lavendulyl acetate. The composition of lavender essential oil as obtained by chromotography.
Contraindications about Lavender oil.
Lavender oil was implicated in gynecomastia, the abnormal development of breasts in young boys. Denver endocrinologist Clifford Bloch hypothesized the link after three boys presented with enlarged breasts. Subsequently, Derek Henley and Kenneth Korach of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C., discovered in lavender and tea tree oil the presence of compounds which both suppress male hormones and mimic female hormones.
Because sex hormone levels normally are low prior to puberty, young boys and girls particularly are sensitive to estrogenic and androgenic compounds. The discovery of the gynecomastia link in boys has led some researchers to suspect lavender and tea tree oils, which are present in various personal care products including shampoos and lotions, may also contribute to the increased incidence of early breast development in girls.
Discontinuation of use of these products resulted in reversal of gynecomastia in Bloch’s young patients. The conclusion that the gynecomastia actually was caused by the essential oils in the products used by the three boys is disputed by the Natural Artisan Perfumers Guild and Cropwatch on the claimed basis of insufficient evidence. Work testing lavender oil using the model regarded as the gold-standard in vivo test for estrogenic activity “gave no evidence of estrogenic activity”.
The conclusion that gynecomastia was caused by lavender has recently been disproven by research undertaken by Valerie T. Politano et al., Research Institute for Fragrance Materials and published in the International Journal of Toxicology. Based on the data from the study, lavender oil, at dosages of 20 or 100 mg/kg, was not active in the rat uterotrophic assay and gave no evidence of estrogenic activity that could lead to gynecomastia.
Precautions & Warnings:
Children: Applying products to the skin that contain lavender oil might not be safe for young boys who have not yet reached puberty. Lavender oil seems to have hormone effects that could disrupt the normal hormones in a boy’s body. In some cases, this has resulted in boys developing abnormal breast growth called gynecomastia. The safety of these products when used by young girls is not known.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lavender during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Surgery: Lavender might slow down the central nervous system. If used in combination with anesthesia and other medications given during and after surgery, it might slow down the central nervous system too much. Stop using lavender at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has a fresh, sweet, floral, herbaceous aroma that is soothing and refreshing. Because it is the most versatile of all essential oils, no home should be without it. Lavender is an adaptogen, and therefore can assist the body when adapting to stress or imbalances. It is a great aid for relaxing and winding down before bedtime, yet has balancing properties that can also boost stamina and energy. Therapeutic-grade lavender is highly regarded for skin and beauty. It may be used to soothe and cleanse common cuts, bruises, and skin irritations. The French scientist René Gattefossé was among the first to discover these properties when he was severely burned in a laboratory explosion. Lavender may also be used to enhance the flavour of foods.