Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils for aromatherapy. Health benefits of lavender oil have been documented in numerous studies and researches. Some of the well known benefits include its ability to induce sleep, relieve nerve tension, uplift mood, relieve pain, and improve respiratory functions. To experience those benefits, aromatherapy and health related books and articles advise us to use "pure" oil.
However, there is no international guideline that would help us to determine the quality of the oil. Without reliable guideline, how can we buy good quality lavender oil? In this article, first, conditions that will affect the quality of lavender oil will be discussed. Second, important considerations to find good lavender oil will be discussed.
The quality of lavender oil is greatly influenced by several factors. First, it is the quality of lavender itself. It is greatly affected by the soil condition, temperature, and amount of rain fall. Lavender is sensitive to humidity and heat.
Second, it is the timing of processing. To produce good oil and preserve quality, lavender has to be distilled and processed immediately after harvesting.
Lastly, the way the oil is packed, stored, and handled affects the quality. After the oil is produced, it has to be stored in a tightly closed, darkened glass container and placed in a cool and dark place. Chemical degradation can occur when the product is exposed to heat, light, or oxygen.
With these things in mind, what do we need to look for?
- If you are seeking health benefits, do not buy oils that have like "fragrance oil," "scented oil," and "perfume oil" on the labels. Those products are artificial and cannot be used for aromatherapy.
- Is the Latin name of the lavender provided in the label? There are many different kinds of lavender. Looking for the Latin names of lavender is important because they have different aromatic uses. Mainly four kinds of lavender are used as oil. They are True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandul officinalis), Spike lavender (Lavandula spica), French lavender (Lavandula stoecas), and Lavandin (Lavandula hybrida).
- Does the label provide the country of origin and/or a lot number? The information of the country of origin is important because the quality of lavender oil can vary by the country. It is more desirable if the label has a lot number because responsible and respectable companies assign the numbers to their products to assure safety and quality. With lot numbers, they can track information about the country of origin and the year that lavender olis was produced as well as the quality of the oil.
- Research the market price. If the price is really law, the oil is probably fake or synthetic.