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When you start with essential oils, one of the first things you’ll likely use is lavender. This pretty little herb has a gorgeous scent and some impressive health benefits that have plenty of scientific backing. So what are the benefits and uses of lavender essential oil?
Where does lavender come from?
Lavender isn’t a single plant but one of 47 species in the genus Lavandula. They are actually a part of the larger mint family, even though they smell nothing like the different mint plants.
The plant originally grew across Europe and Asia as well as some of the islands off the coast such as the Canary Islands as well as in northern and eastern Africa. It has spread around the world since it has been cultivated and can be found almost anywhere with a temperate climate. It is a popular garden plant because it looks and smells gorgeous. Plus lavender is easy to grow.
Lavender’s first use dates to ancient Egyptian times when they used lavender oil to mummify pharaohs in pyramids. Later, the Ancient Greeks and Persians saw lavender as a body and mind purifier used in bathwater.
Health benefits of lavender
Lavender has long been associated with various healing properties. Modern studies have also shown some of these beliefs have solid science behind them.
Relief from Mild Pains
A study conducted on 67 college students who rated their severity of menstrual cramps at six or more on a scale of 0-10 explored and proved lavender’s effectiveness in reducing pains. It concluded that topical application of lavender along with clary sage and rose subsides menstrual cramps.
Nannies in England knew about the health benefits of lavender. Those were the times when insomniacs used lavender to help them sleep.
It was common to stuff lavender flowers in the pillow casings to fall asleep and have a good sleep. Doing this works because lavender calms the restless mind and takes away nervousness. It brings down the overactive sympathetic system and causes the parasympathetic system to go into action.
If bad dreams or sleep disruptions haunt you, use lavender as a calming agent.
Improve Skin and Hair Conditions
A 2016 study proved the historical accounts of lavender hair regrowth and conditioning hair. In the study, they observed the regrowth of hair on bald patches. They were applying essential oils made of lavender, thyme, cedarwood, and rosemary regularly over the hair-fallen spots for seven months to generate new hair.
In terms of skin benefits, lavender creams and oils help with subside skin blemishes such as acne, eczema, diaper rash, and sunburns.
First Aid for Wounds
The wound healing nature of lavender comes from its antioxidant properties. It accelerates granular tissue formation and contracts wounds in the early phase for quick closure of wounds.
The best thing about applying lavender oil on wounds is that it does not sting, unlike other antiseptics. It disinfects wounds, calms itching, and pain while being gentle.
Reduce Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Drinking lavender tea eases high blood pressure and promotes good heart health. It inhibits a spike in autonomic arousal that regulates the pace of the heart.
A study published in Cell Journal in 2017 showed that lavender essential oil improves the heart’s vital signs by reducing blood pressure in a person who underwent open-heart surgery.
How Lavender Boosts Your Mental Health
For centuries people have used lavender flowers to treat mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Both external and internal use of lavender calms the nerves and reduces stress levels.
Different studies have shown that lavender extract contains compounds that boost mental health and brain function. The plant’s key characteristic is its fragrance, which acts as an antidepressant and clarifies the mind.
Many who suffer from insomnia and restlessness have found lavender to be a remarkably effective natural treatment. Lavender’s sleep-inducing qualities soothe the nervous system in the body and calm the wandering mind of worries and troubles. Lavender oil is proven to improve sleep quality.
When you feel depressed, a gentle rub of a drop of essential oil on the forehead refreshes the brain and gets it out of the rut. It boosts confidence and enhances positivity. The person feels secure and develops good intentions to get over the feeling of depression.
How lavender can help anxiety
The sense of smell is very influential in how we feel about our surroundings. Fresh scents from cut grass and flower blossoms give us a sense of summer, the first rain gives out an earthy scent, a bracing and verdant scent of chilly breeze reminds us of the coldness of winter, and so on.
The sense of smell is one of the most acute senses in our body. Inhaling a pleasant fragrance like lavender will fill your mind with happiness and positivity.
When a person smells something, the olfactory bulb located in the brain’s frontal region receives it, and glomeruli (clusters of neurons) contained in it generate a specific odour signal. The signal type generated depends on the stored past experiences, and it either relaxes or causes stress in the muscles and improves mood or disturbs it.
Lavender’s aroma creates a positive signal. Every time you smell its fragrance, the mind remembers it and quickly aligns to a stable mindset, which relieves anxiety and depression.
Chemically, lavender’s healing effects come from its active ingredients, which can often include linalyl acetate, linalool, terpineol-4-oil, and camphor.
How to use lavender oil
Because lavender is such a friendly essential oil, there’s lots of different ways to use it.
The fragrance of lavender calms the nerves and promotes mental clarity and peace. It is common for modern spa and massage centres to use Lavender infused oils and candles to induce relaxation.
Inhaling lavender essential oils relaxes the mind, wards off anxiety, depression, and stress. You can do this with things like a simple bowl of water with some oils in it or you could use a diffuser to create a fine mist with the oil and water.
You can also add it to a number of products to get its benefits. Always do a spot test somewhere on your body first as you never know if something doesn’t agree with you. Simply adding a few drops into bath water is a simple way to enjoy the scent and the benefits.
How to make lavender essential oil
To make real essential oil, you have to steam and distil the lavender buds. It can be tedious and expensive in a home setting. You will have to distil, capture, and condense the steam into a liquid that requires specialized distillery equipment.
Alternatives to this would be making Lavender infused oil with the same qualities as an essential oil.
How to make lavender-infused oil
1. Add dried lavender flowers to a canning jar until it is half full and fill the rest of the space with a carrier oil. The carrier oil can be either olive, sunflower, sweet almond, hemp, avocado, or other oil of your preference.
2. Next, you have to decide whether you will quickly infuse lavender essence into the oil or go with a slower traditional method. For quicker infusion, place the jar in a pan or bowl filled with water and, on a slow flame, boil it for 2 hours. Keep the lid of the jar closed to avoid water escaping from it.
3. Lastly, turn off the heat and strain the oil. The slower method requires you to keep the jar away for 4 to 6 weeks with shaking about once a week.
To make the slow method slightly faster, you can keep the jar on your windowsill that receives sunlight for the first few days. The heat will intensify the infusion process and shorten the time by about two weeks.
But remember not to keep the oil too long under sunlight as it might fade the lavender flowers.
- Epsom salts
- Lavender oil
- Dried Lavender
- Purple food colouring (optional)
- 1 mason jar
1.Fill half of the Mason jar with Epsom salt.
2.Add ten drops of lavender oil and close the lid and shake the contents thoroughly.
3.Add one tablespoon of dried lavender flowers and shake again. Leave to steep until smells strong enough.
4.If you want the bath salts to look nice, add a couple of drops of purple food colouring to the jar with the oil.
You can also try adding other essential oils with the lavender to create unique blends!
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