By Dr. Mercola

A whiff of lavender oil can trigger various sensations, and its sweet fragrance brings to mind rows and rows of beautiful blue-violet flowers under the summer sky. But if you look beyond lavender oil’s aroma, you’ll find that there’s more to it than meets the eye — or your sense of smell.

What Is Lavender?

Lavender oil comes from lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), an easy-to-grow, evergreen shrub that produces clumps of beautiful, scented flowers above green or silvery-gray foliage.1

The plant is native to northern Africa and the mountainous Mediterranean regions, and thrives best in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it grows throughout southern Europe, the United States, and Australia.2

Lavender has been used for over 2,500 years. Ancient Persians, Greeks, and Romans added the flowers to their bathwater to help wash and purify their skin.3 In fact, the word “lavender” comes from the Latin word “lavare,” which means “to wash.”4

Phoenicians, Arabians, and Egyptians used lavender as a perfume, as well as for mummification — mummies were wrapped in lavender-dipped garments.

In Greece and Rome, it was used as an all-around cure,5 while in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, it was scattered all over stone castle floors as a natural disinfectant and deodorant.

Lavender was even used during the Great Plague of London in the 17th century. People fastened lavender flowers around their waists, believing it will protect them from the Black Death.

High-quality lavender oil has a sweet, floral, herbaceous, and slightly woody scent. Its color can range from pale yellow to yellow-green, but it can also be colorless.6

Uses of Lavender Oil

Both lavender and lavender oil are valued for their fragrance and versatility. The flowers are used in potpourris, crafting, and home décor, while the essential oil is added to bath and body care products, such as soaps, perfumes, household cleaners and laundry detergent.

Lavender oil is known for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It also has antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, hypotensive and sedative effects.7 Lavender oil is one of the most well-known essential oils in aromatherapy, and can be:8

Added to your bath or shower to relieve aching muscles and stress.

Massaged on your skin as a relief for muscle or joint pain, as well as for skin conditions like burns, acne and wounds. Make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil.

Inhaled or vaporized. You can use an oil burner or add a few drops to a bowl of hot water, and then breathe in the steam.

Added to your hand or foot soak. Add a drop to a bowl of warm water before soaking your hands or feet.

Used as a compress by soaking a towel in a bowl of water infused with a few drops of lavender oil. Apply this to sprains or muscle injuries.

I also recommend adding lavender oil to your list of natural cleaning products. You can mix it with baking soda to make an all-natural antibacterial scrub for your bathroom and kitchen.

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