Lavender Essential Oil: Chemistry and Therapeutic Properties

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There are different types of lavender used as an essential oil, ISP

There are different types of lavender used as an essential oil. Photo by ISP

Health Benefits of True Lavender Oil

The alcohol and ester chemical components in true lavender essential oil make it a gentle, balancing oil. True lavender essential oil is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and antiseptic. Aromatherapists use true lavender to help relieve muscle pain, headaches, insomnia and burns.

Spike lavender essential oil is high in oxides and alcohols. Although spike lavender essential oil has similar uses as true lavender essential oil, the oxide content (which is stimulating, and in some cases, irritating) makes it a more forceful oil.

Due to its cross-pollination of true and spike lavender, lavandin essential oil mimics much of the same healing benefits of these two oils. It is anti-viral, anti-infectious and warming. Aromatherapists use lavandin for coughs and colds, as well as  to ease anxiety and insomnia.

Lavender stoechas essential oil contains a high percentage of ketones which are usually cautioned against as being hazardous. As a result, lavender stoechas is not often used as an essential oil in aromatherapy practice.

Use of Lavender Essential Oil

As you can see, lavender has many different uses as an essential oil but it is important to distinguish between the different types of lavender to avoid any unwanted side effects. Consult your doctor and a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oils if you are pregnant, have a medical condition, or are taking any prescription medications.

References:

Hui L He L, Huan L, XiaoLan L, Aiguo Z. Chemical Composition of Lavender Essential Oil and its Antioxidant Activity and Inhibition Against Rhinitis-Related Bacteria. (2010) Academic Journals. Accessed December 3, 2012

Vakilian K, Atarha M, Bekhradi R, Chaman R. Healing Advantages of Lavender Essential Oil During Episiotomy: A Clinical Trial. (2011) PubMed.gov. Accessed December 3, 2012

Mónica Zuzarte, Maria José Gonçalves, Carlos Cavaleiro, Jorge Canhoto, Luís Vale-Silva, Maria João Silva, Eugénia Pinto, and Lígia Salgueiro. Lavender Oil has Potential Antifungal Effect Society for General Microbiology (2011). Journal of Medical Microbiology. Accessed December 3, 2012

Clarke, S. Essential Chemistry for Aromatherapy. (2008). UK: Churchill Livingstone.

Price, S. Aromatherapy Workbook. (2000). UK: Thorsons.

Price, S., Price, L. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. (2001). UK: Churchill Livingstone.

Caddy, R. Essential Oils in Color. (1997). UK: Amberwood Publishing Ltd.

Lawless, J. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. (1995) UK: Element.

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