Sunday, May 10, 2009

Twelve Great Ways to Use Lavender Oil

Lavender is not just another pretty flower. The oil of this fragrant and much-loved plant is amazingly useful, as I learned when I co-authored a book about a lavender farm in Hawaii. From the farmhouses of old Europe to the palace of the Hawaiian monarchy, lavender has found a place in homes of every description.

Like other essential oils made from various herbs and flowers, lavender oil carries the essence of its parent plant, distilled into liquid form. But, unlike other essential oils (which must be mixed with a carrier oil, such as almond, olive or canola), lavender oil may be used "neat," straight from the bottle.

Aromatherapy texts contain many suggestions for how to use this oil, and research has shown that a lot of the lavender-based folk remedies passed down through the generations have a basis in science. Lavender is antibiotic, antispasmodic, analgesic, antiseptic, antiviral and antifungal, which means that it can protect and promote health in many ways.

Before the days of antibiotics, sweet-scented commercial soaps and lotions and all the other modern preparations that keep our bodies healthy and our homes clean and smelling fresh, lavender was a housewife's best friend. For centuries, lavender has disinfected sickrooms, healed wounds and burns and sweetened the air in castles where the nobility's pets were as much at home as their owners!

Great for home first-aid kits, lavender oil will maintain its therapeutic powers for about two years. After that, use it for its fragrance, perhaps as part of your housecleaning routine.

Here are a dozen simple suggestions for using lavender essential oil.

-Add a few drops to any body lotion to make a fragrant moisturizing cream. Smooth it on before bedtime to take advantage of lavender's famous relaxing properties.
-Soak a cotton ball with witch hazel, add a drop of lavender oil and rub over an acne breakout.
-Put a drop of essential oil on an open blister to prevent infection. Be prepared: It will sting!
-Rub a few drops of oil over sunburned areas. You'll be amazed at how quickly that sunburn feels better.
-Sprinkle a few drops on your pillow to help you sleep at night.
-Fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of lavender oil, shake well and use it as you would any room freshener. (Be sure not to spray it on wood.) -Lightly mist your bedclothes for a soothing scent at bedtime.
-Put a drop of essential oil on a cold light bulb, where it will radiate fragrance as the bulb heats up. The oil is flammable, so don't drop it onto a hot bulb.
-Make your own defuser: Buy wooden shish kabob sticks and cut them in half. Put lavender oil into a pretty little bottle and stand the sticks in the oil for a long-lasting fragrance.
-Scent your kitchen: Add drops of oil to the final rinse water when you clean kitchen counters or floors, or add a few drops to a bottle of dish-washing liquid.
-Sweeten your clothes: Put a little oil on a small square of cloth and toss it into the dryer.
-Put some onto small cotton wool balls and tuck them into drawers. Your clothes will be fragrant, and the lavender will discourage moths.
-Add a few drops of oil to your hand-soap dispenser next time you refill it.

About the Author

Learn more from award-winning Hawaii author Jill Engledow about the history of Hawaii and about lavender in Hawaii at her website,

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