Meeting Lavender Essential Oil As She Prepares To Bloom

Last week, I attended a meeting and one of my poor colleagues was bundled up in the corner with period pains. It was 110 degrees outside, and she was snuggled up with a hot water bottle, poor love! Here in the UK, those kinds of temperatures are unheard of and I suspect that most plants in my garden would curl up and die, apart from lavender that is, because she really does know how to cope when life turns up the heat. Today, I’m contemplating what the garden has to teach us about lavender essential oil.

Let’s start by moving the attention away from the human world first, because that’s so rarely done. But we can learn so much about a plant from the insects who frequent it. After all, essential oils are little more than concentrations of what the plant has to say with the outside world, most often those chemicals are made for chats with insects. 

The World According To Lavender Plant

If you ever get a chance to stand around a lavender bush and observe the insects, notice how much they delight in it. Certainly, they do adore the fragrance (my bees are calmer when I smoke them with dried lavender stalks) but there is more going on than tat.

Interestingly, the plant has evolved to be mainly (but not exclusively) purple. Chemicals called anthocyanins are responsible for purple, red and pink petals. Now, although these are water soluble compounds, so they do not make it across distillation to the essential oil, this tells us a great deal about how the plant wishes to be perceived in the world. That personality, that main character does still exist when we use lavender essential oil. 

Purple is an attractive color. Its purpose is to attract pollinators. It is a social color. Insects adore purple plants, partly because it is the color they can see best. Indeed, in tests, bumble bees actively search out purple plants by preference, presumably because they are rich in nectar. Nectar rich plants are generous, giving and are highly evolved plant medicines. Incidentally, plants that are rich in nectar are also very good healers from insect bites and stings. 

You’ll notice there is rarely just one insect on a purple plant, but rather, several, and often many different species all getting on perfectly well together. They are chill, relaxed, genial and mellow. It’s easy to think that it’s coincidental, but it's unlikely. It’s only when humans start messing with them that causes trouble. 

We could learn a great deal from the insects that hang out on lavender. 

Lavender Essential Oil Makes You Feel 

Cooler. 

In both senses of the word. 

You’re more relaxed and the heat doesn’t feel so oppressive. 

Lavender hydrolat in particular is deliciously cooling 

More relaxed, of course. That means in the immediate term and longer terms, and hopefully it means you can sleep better too. 

We can extend it a bit. 

While it’s not necessarily an oil that imbues confidence (leave that to sweet basil or grapefruit to sort out those issues) lavender says, well actually I’m not that bothered what other people think anyway! I’m just happy doing my own thing.

It’s a quiet oil. As we know, it knows about comfort and sleep, but it’s a plodder. It doesn’t expect you to stop and chat with it like mandarin does, or hear about your woes, like chamomile enjoys. 

Lavender just sits besides you and holds your hand. 

It’s like a good book that has been waiting for you to return. Always patient, completely dependable, just warm sunshiney bliss. 

Lavender Essential Oil Makes You Feel 

Less creaking, less moan-y and groan-y in your bones, less inflamed in your moods and in your skin. 

Don’t tell the FDA I said so but it also works tremendously on that word that rhymes with main and begins with P. 

Menstrual cramps, creaking backs, spasms and clenches all relax with lavender. 

Soothing, calming, stroking, sighing.

Beautiful blissful lavender.

Lavender Essential Oil Also Helps With 

Bumps and bruises, cuts, scrapes and burns.

Not only because it soothes it and reduces inflammation, but also because it keeps wounds nice and clean from bacteria and germs. 

Snoozy Lavender Essential Oil

It’s perhaps time to get on my lavender scented soap box or one of them anyway. 

Does lavender essential oil help you sleep? 

Yes it does. 

Should I use it to help my baby sleep? 

Well, that depends. Do you normally smell like a lavender bush?  

If you don’t then you are asking your child to accept a complete stranger and trust them. They won’t. They navigate those first few months of life via scent, and they want to be able to smell mom. 

I wrote a more detailed post about that here

Next….

“ I read that I should put lavender on my pillow to help me sleep. Is that right?”

You’d think so wouldn’t you? 

But at the moment the jury is out, and veering towards, no, that’s probably wrong. Because the thing is, as soon as we fall into deep sleep, our sense of smell switches off. We no longer perceive the smell of lavender, or indeed smoke, if there is a fire. That’s why we have smoke alarms. Better to have a nice warm lavender bath, or to make a lavender lotion or massage oil and to rub it on. That way you are not relying on olfaction to do the job. 

Anti- Microbial Lavender Essential Oil 

Yyyyes, it is anti- microbial but there are better oils, to be honest. 

Blend it with tea tree to clean up bumped knees 

Add a drop of chamomile of dill essential oils to massage onto the abdomen for tummy upsets 

Yes, lavender essential oil is going to do a good job if it's the only one you have, but its main skill is getting you to relax. 

Always try to play an essential oil’s strengths. 

A Quick Warning About Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender is probably the first essential oil everyone gets. We all hear how wonderful it is and how you can use it safely for everything. (And yes, that is absolutely true. I drive my family mad with it!) How great it is for spots and for hormonal balance. Perhaps most importantly it is so great for relaxation and for sleep. Consequently, we surround ourselves with it. But often people don’t associate you with the fact they are starting to suffer from dry skin with all the lavender oil they have been using. 

How Lavender Essential oil Affects The Skin

Essential oils do not have side effects, but they do have many main effects. One of those is how it responds to the sebaceous glands in our skin. It’s a great indication of how clever the skin is, actually. These glands secrete sebum, an oily substance the body makes to nourish and protect the skin against infection. Somehow, and don’t ask me how, but the sensors in the skin recognise certain constituents in lavender, think “Oh, we have plenty of oil here…” and switch sebum production down. 

That’s fabulous if you struggle with greasy skin and spots, but not great if your complexion is dry or combination. 

Don’t forget too, that essential oil constituents travel through the blood system, right around the body. So regardless if you are using it in the bath to help you sleep, or using it in a moisturizer, all your skin will gradually get drier. 

Actually, in my opinion, the same applies to oil generally. I’m not convinced you should ever put loads of oil in your skin if your complexion is dry. 

In all cases, use an aqueous cream and add your essential oils to it. Aqueous is water based, to hydrate dry skin, you need water. Incidentally, oily skin also tends to look better if you hydrate it too. 

Add one or two drops of lavender essential oil in an aqueous lotion fantastic for greasy skin. 

If you have combination skin, use ylang ylang instead. Everything about ylang ylang is balancing. It balances hormones as well as balancing out combinations in the skin. 

If you are using lavender in the bath, and you’ve noticed this happening, perhaps try some geranium, chamomile, vetiver or valerian to help you sleep instead. 

Conclusion

I find that the best way to use lavender essential oil is for first aid. If we have tumbles or scrapes, or if I am having a very stressful day. The rest of the time I use it as a very small part of a larger blend. I let other oils do the work and have lavender there almost to just keep everyone else in the concoction better, a kind of aromatherapeutic HR department if you will! It is, hands down the most important essential oil there is, but get creative with other oils too, or you will regret it when you have to sort out your skin. 

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