Lavender oil is widely considered the most versatile of the essential oils, and is used to treat a wide range of ailments from burns to stress. It’s used to treat digestive problems; wounds and burns; depression, anxiety, and stress; respiratory issues; insomnia; insect bites; muscle pain and spasms; and inflammation. It can also be used as an insect repellent; lavender sachets placed in your closets and drawers will discourage moths, while diffusing the essential oil around doors and windows will keep out flies and mosquitoes, and blending it with a base oil and applying it to exposed skin will prevent mosquito bites.
Lavender’s many uses make it the most important oil to have on hand, and its safety makes it an excellent “first oil” for beginners to try. Lavender is one of the few oils that is safe to apply to the skin without diluting it in a base oil, and is gentle enough to use for children as well (most oils are not recommended for use on children.) Although lavender essential oil is used for many other things as well, here are its most common uses:
Immediately apply cold water or ice to the burn for several minutes, then apply one drop of full-strength lavender oil and spread it over the reddened area. In most cases, this will completely prevent blisters from developing, but if they do, apply one drop of oil to the blister and cover it with a piece of sterile gauze. (This will also work for blisters caused by shoes that don’t fit properly.) Do not drain them, simply repeat the treatment daily until the blister dries up and the skin over it hardens. (For severe burns that blister immediately, or break the skin, go to the emergency room.)
Insect Bites and Stings
If necessary, scrape the stinger out of the bite (never use tweezers to remove a stinger, as pinching it will inject any remaining venom into the skin. Use a fingernail, the side of a nail file, or some other blunt object to scrape across the skin and pull it loose.) Apply a single drop of full-strength lavender essential oil to the bite, rubbing it over the entire area. You can repeat this treatment several times a day until the itching stops coming back, but normally no more than one or two applications will be needed.
Inhaling the vapors of lavender, either directly from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil to a cotton ball or piece of fabric and putting it inside your pillowcase at bedtime, encourages sleep. Using an electronic diffuser is an even better option, since the exposure lasts longer. A study at Wesleyan University showed that exposure to lavender essential oil through use of a diffuser before bed increases the percentage of deep, restorative sleep in both men and women.
Migraines and Tension Headaches
A drop of lavender essential oil applied to the temples will help to ease the pain of headaches, including migraines, and can be used with most medications. (Be careful not to get the oil into your eyes.)
Psoriasis, Eczema and Dermatitis
Add 5 drops of lavender oil to 1 teaspoon of cold-pressed, extra virgin olive or coconut oil and apply to the area two or three times a day. (For large areas, you can mix larger amounts and store them in a tightly sealed, dark-colored glass container. You can buy brown glass bottles with an eye-dropper in sizes from ½ oz. to 2 ozs. that are ideal for this purpose.)
Put a drop of lavender oil on a cotton ball or cotton swab and apply it to the cold sore as soon as you realize you’re getting it. Repeat twice a day until the sore heals. (Do not apply inside the nose or mouth. If the sore is on the lips, use the blended oil in the section on psoriasis.)
Muscle Aches, Strains and Strains
Mix 30 drops of lavender essential oil in 2 tablespoons of cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive or coconut oil and rub into the muscles to ease the pain and reduce spasms. For even better results, use this blend after taking a warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt and 10 drops of lavender oil added to the bath water.
Depression, Anxiety and Stress
Lavender essential oil helps to balance the emotions, and eases depression, anxiety, and stress. The methods recommended in the sections on insomnia and muscle aches are all appropriate for treating these issues.