Lavender oil is one of the most versatile, powerful essential oils, and its list of benefits seems to grow by the day. As a natural analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and mild sedative, it can help you treat pain, skin rashes, and even help you sleep better at night when used properly. We’ll break down the primary benefits of lavender oil, the ingredients in pure oil, and explain how to use it to maximise your results.
The Basics of Lavender Essential Oil
How It’s Made
Lavender essential oil is made from Lavandula angustifolia, a beautiful & aromatic plant that’s best known for its purple buds. The lavender plant is grown all over the world, but is native to the Mediterranean region in Europe. Lavender EO is extracted from the plant using steam distillation, where hot steam is passed through the purple flower buds, forcing the oil to evaporate, condense, and ultimately be collected for use.
If you’re looking for pure lavender essential oil, the highest-quality oils will have a sweet, floral, and slightly herbaceous. It should be amber or pale yellow in colour, and free of adulterants & other contaminants, which indicate that it's been properly distilled and handled. At Mudbrick Herb Cottage, our lavender oil is organically-certified in Australia, ensuring that none of the healing benefits are compromised by toxic, unnecessary ingredients.
What It’s Made Of
Lavender oil is composed of several naturally-occurring compounds, each of which contributes to its therapeutic properties. The primary constituents are linalyl acetate, linalool, and camphor. Linalyl acetate and linalool are responsible for the floral fragrance and its renowned calming effects. They both exhibit mild sedative properties, which can help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Camphor also contributes to the scent, adding a slight minty undertone. But its’ true power lies in its ability to relieve respiratory congestion and muscular pain.
Health Benefits of Lavender Oil
Promote Relaxation and Improve Sleep Quality
Lavender oil is perhaps best known for its calming effects on the nervous system. It’s a top choice for those who wish to unwind, relax, and sleep better at night. Linalyl acetate and linalool are the primary drivers of these effects, as they have sedative qualities that can induce a calm, peaceful state of mind.
In fact, a 2021 study reported that participants who were exposed to lavender aroma during the night slept better and felt more daytime energy the day afterwards. Similarly, another study found that repeated exposure to lavender may help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
If you struggle to get enough sleep, or you just need to wind down after a stressful day, a few drops of lavender oil may be just the thing your bedtime routine needs.
Natural Pain Relief
Linalyl acetate and linalool play a major role in lavender oil’s pain-relieving properties. The natural analgesic & anti-inflammatory properties can be used to treat discomfort like headaches, muscle pain, and other chronic & acute pains.
A popular choice in aromatherapy massages and acupressure treatments, lavender oil can help alleviate muscular tension and reduce lower back pain, as evidenced by a 2012 study where participants experienced 39% less pain after just one week of treatment. It’s also shown to be effective in relieving pain in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
Treat Skin Conditions Like Acne, Inflammation, and Scarring
Lavender oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial, all of which can improve your skin health when applying the oil topically. In the case of long-term acne, lavender EO was found to have bactericidal effects, even against microorganisms which are resistant to over-the-counter antibiotics. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties help reduce redness, itching, and general skin inflammation, which can help manage conditions like eczema & psoriasis.
And if you’re prone to cuts, bruises, and scarring, lavender oil can accelerate the wound healing process. It has been shown to synthesise collagen, remodel tissues, and shrink the wound itself.
Repel Insects Without Toxic Chemicals
For all of the mental & physical benefits that lavender can offer humans, it’s far less friendly to insects (which works in your favour). The strong aroma is a potent insect repellent that can repel common household pests like mosquitoes, ants, and moths. Especially if you have kids or pets, lavender oil should be your top choice for a non-toxic alternative to chemical sprays. Simply combine with water and add the mixture to a spray bottle, then spray in the direction of the problem areas.
It's not just effective at keeping insects away though, those same anti-inflammatory properties come in handy if you’ve been bitten or stung by a bug. Topical application can alleviate itchiness and swelling associated with insect bites.
How to Use Lavender Essential Oil
When using lavender essential oil for skin-related benefits, or to treat localised pain, topical application is your best method. But as with all essential oils, it's important to dilute lavender oil with a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, to avoid skin irritation. A common dilution ratio is typically around 1-2 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
Before applying the diluted mixture to a large area of skin, perform a small patch test on a small, less sensitive part of your skin. The goal of this is to test your skin’s sensitivity to the mixture; if you were to spread it across your entire back and find out that your skin reacts negatively, that would be painful! Apply a small amount of your mixture to the inside of your wrist or elbow, and wait for 24 hours. If there's no reaction, it's generally safe to apply more broadly.
Inhalation & Aromatherapy
Lavender oil can help you relax when applied topically, but the benefits will be more pronounced if inhaled. Whether diffused or inhaled directly from the bottle, the soothing aroma can help you relax, alleviate anxiety, and sleep better at night. Especially if you’re having trouble sleeping, add a few drops of lavender oil to your water chamber, set a timer for 30 minutes, and let the scent transport you to sleep.
If you’re feeling stressed at work or on the go, keep a bottle of lavender EO in your car or your purse for quick use. Take 4-5 deep breaths directly from the bottle to calm your nervous system and balance your emotions.
Precautions and Potential Side Effects of Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is one of the safest EOs, but you should still follow certain precautions to safely maximise the health benefits:
- Never ingest any concentration of lavender oil (or any other EO) to avoid potential toxicity
- Always dilute with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation or other adverse reactions
- Consult with your healthcare provider before using, especially if you are pregnant, have been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition, or use certain medications. It’s worth noting that lavender is one of the few EOs that are considered safe for pregnant women, but you should confirm with your doctor before using.
When used properly, side effects are rare, though some people have experienced minor effects like constipation, diarrhoea, and headaches.
Lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial, versatile EOs, and a necessary addition to any wellness routine. Between the calming effects, natural pain relief, and healthier skin, the benefits of lavender oil are seemingly endless.