This post is published in memory of Wendy Akin, longtime MOTHER EARTH NEWS contributor and Texas gardener, who knew the value of living as both learner and teacher.
Lavender might be the most useful of all the essential oils, and everybody should have at least a small bottle. Among the most frequent uses for lavender are: treatment for headache, calming the spirit, soothing burns, and, very important, neutralizing venom from insect bites. Lavender is one of the few essential oils that can be applied undiluted to the skin.
For stress. Lavender oil is lovely in the bath, whether mixed with sea salts or simply as a few drops in a warm tub bath. It’s calming, relieves stress and anxiety, and is helpful for insomnia and exhaustion.
For headaches of all kinds. Lavender can offer relief. Especially for tension headache, put just a drop on a ring finger (your weakest finger), rub against the opposing ring finger and then massage the temples in a circular manner where you feel the pulse.
For mosquito bites, bee or wasp stings and spider bites, and scorpion stings. Apply lavender oil as quickly as possible. Apply it generously! When I was bitten by a Black Widow spider, I ran for the bathroom, opened a bottle and literally doused my hand in it. Of course, in this particular case, you would be advised to seek a physician’s help, especially if the bitten person is a child, older or has a weakened immune system.
In my case, the bite never swelled or broke open as others had. Even if you discover a bite when it begins to swell, keep applying crops of lavender in hopes that you did catch it in time.
For skin care. Lavender helps to clear up blemishes. Lavender in hand and body creams and soaps nourishes and soothes the skin. For sunburns or oven burns — any burn — lavender helps the skin to heal. It is used in burn clinics for serious burns, but that should be left to a medical professional.
Where to Find Lavender Essential Oil I buy lavender 40/42 for everyday use. My oil comes from an area south of Sault in central Provence in France, and this is dependable oil. It is a blend from multiple fields, similar to a blended wine.
Expect to pay about $40 to $45 per pound for this oil, and expect a minimum order policy from the better suppliers.
One caution when selecting any essential oil: If it sounds too good to be true, it is! You won’t want to purchase oils from multi-level marketing or “pyramid” companies.
Two vendors that I trust and that have fair prices are Rainbow Meadow, Inc., and New Direction Aromatics. Lavender and eucalyptus oils are rather common, and I’ve been satisfied with those oils from Bulk Apothecary and The Chemistry Store. You may find other essential oil vendors you like very well; there are many more today than were around 20 years ago.
Note that the more reputable vendors of essential oils do offer a Certificate of Analysis, which gives a summary of a Gas Chromatography, a test to ascertain the purity of the oil.
A Word of Caution
Do not put any essential oil in your mouth or inside your nose unless specifically advised by a knowledgeable practitioner. Most essential oils are for external use only.
Guitteny, M. (1996). Lavender. Societe Agar; Lawless, J. (1995). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Element Books; Maria, D. (2000). Making Aromatherapy Creams and Lotions. Storey Publishing; Whitton, S. (1995). Essential Oils and Essences. Apple Press; Worwood, V.A. (1991). The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. New World Library.
Wendy Akin was a lifelong learner and teacher, who was happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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