Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Wonder Oil

Every now and then, someone asks me, "If I were to buy only one essential oil, which one should it be?" At the risk of being cliche, it is lavender.
Lavender oil is an interesting, broad spectrum blend of chemical components. That being said, lavender contains two primary components that are responsible for its most famous properties: linalool, and linalyl acetate. The linalool is an alcohol, giving lavender its antiseptic properties. Linalool also reduces inflammation, and may enhance our immune system. The other component, linalyl acetate, also acts to help our immune system. Together, these two components in one oil provide a one, two hit against bacteria and virus. Linalyl acetate also provides pain relief, and acts as a sedative.
When purchasing lavender, make sure it comes from a reputable company - this company should be able to tell you exactly how much of these two ingredients are in a particular batch of lavender. Percentages of the chemical components in any essential oil vary from batch to batch, depending on such factors as the weather when that batch was grown...what was in the soil...whether or not it was harvested, transported, and stored properly, etc. It is very difficult to know whether your oil has been diluted in any way. It is tempting to dilute quality oils with cheaper oils so that the seller might make more profit. Price is typically a good indication of quality: if the price seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Once you own high quality lavender oil (organic, or at least, unsprayed, is always nice, ) what can you do with it? Well, I find lavender, first and foremost, indispensable for small burns. One drop, neat, on a small burn reduces pain, speeds healing, and can almost eliminate scarring. A drop of lavender on a kleenex and placed near your bed can help you sleep better. Lavender is primarily thought of as a "relaxing" oil. A drop in a car diffuser, or on a kleenex in the car, might make a stressful commute more enjoyable. Lavender oil mixed with distilled water, in a spray bottle, makes an excellent, non-toxic, all natural room freshener. Just remember to shake well before spraying! Finally, a drop of lavender on insect bites can reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Every home should own a bottle of lavender!