Friday, March 23, 2012

Lavenders Vera, Munstead, Hidcote, and Jean Davis

So.  So I am lame and haven't posted in a bit.  I'm human.  So there.

Anywaysies, let's start those Essential Oil posts, shall we?

And you know the one we'll start with.  You know it's Lavender.  It's the essential oil/fragrance (let's do EO for short, OK?) that everyone's heard of, whether they like it or not.  It's ubiquitousness abounds everywhere, from bath salts to lotions to baby baths to massage oil, ad nauseum.   The tricky thing is, though, is that most of those products you see with 'lavender' in it, don't actually contain any lavender.  The reason for this is because essential oils are expensive.

Here's a quote from Cynthia Loving (my amazing EO guru) that explains why :

Essential oils are highly concentrated.  The amount of essential oil extracted from an aromatic plant can range dramatically depending on variables such as:  weather conditions, soil, altitude, time of harvest, temperature, pressure and length of distillation.  The percentage of yield from various plants range from 2% for Rosemary to .05% Lavender to .006% of Rose.  That translates to approximately:  Eucalyptus - 25 lbs plant matter to make 1 lb essential oil; Rosemary - 50 lbs plant matter to make 1 lb oil; Lavender -200 lbs. plant matter to make 1 lb oil; Rose - over 16,000 lbs of petals to make 1 lb oil.
 That's alot of plant matter.  So most conventional (and even some so-called 'all natural') makers of stuff-to-put-smells-in go for the fake--synthetic fragrances that simulate the smell of lavender, or other EOs, to save moolah.  And lavender, because of it's popularity, happens to be on the low cost end of the EO spectrum.   Oh, those rascally makers of things.

Now lavender is one of those smells that people tend to either love or hate.  However, the vast majority of the haters are hating because they've been smelling fake lavender all this time--or a low-quality EO version.  I used to be one of those haters until I got my nose on a true Lavendula Angustifolia from France.  (fancy, right?!) It was sweet, herby, just the right amount of flowery, and not overwhelming in the least.  It was delicious.  There are several types of lavender EO (lavendula angustifolia from France, lavendula angustifolia high-altitude from Kashmir, lavendula spica from Spain, and a lavandin hybrida--a hybrid lavender-like plant from France).  We won't get all crazy here--we're just going to focus on the most-used version, the lavendula angustifolia (but we'll just call it lavender, as not to be pretentious and such).

Lavender is one of the go-to EOs for fragrance as well as healing.  It's the workhorse of the EO family, being used for a wide range of maladies as headache, insomnia, minor cuts, muscle pain, nausea, difficult labor, ringworm (yep, ringworm), asthma and even being an angrypants.  It's a very gentle oil, and as such can be used in a large variety of situations on a wide range of people, and even animals (IF you're trained; don't try animal aromatherapy unless you're an aromatherapist--animals are VERY sensitive to essential oils!).  Lavender is the great nurturer of all things--it strenghtens, renews, balances and relaxes.  Some of its amazing properties are: antibacterial/antiseptic, antifungal, antidepressant, analgesic, and sedative (but sedative in a good way--think 'oh the sweet sleepytime fairy has come floating along...', not 'holy shit was that a horse tranquilizer I just took?!').

Lavender EO corresponds to the Heart and Crown Chakras, making it particularly useful for assisting in opening up to love, acceptance, abundance, happiness, peace and wisdom.  Emotionally, lavender restores patience, lifts the fog of depression, balances mood swings, and rescues those suffering from mental and emotional burnout. Lavender moseys along side, picks you up, says, 'Hey, everything's cool, just be.'.

This is one of a few EOs you can use neat (undiluted) in small amounts for all kindsa topical applications: a drop directly on minor cuts and scratches (or even that damned ringworm), a drop rubbed on the temples for migraines, a tiny bit right on acne, or a drop or two rubbed into aching or spasmodic muscles.  It can also be sprayed in a base mixture, used in baths, steam-inhaled, in massage oil blends, and dumped generously into soaps, bath salts, skin balms and all manner of yummy body stuff by yours truly.

Word of caution: never, ever, ever (ever) ingest lavender essential oil.  That really goes for almost every other essential oil too. (we'll talk about the edible-in-very-small-amounts ones later).

To reward your oh-so-diligent reading of my oily rantings, here's a nifty recipe:

Languid Lavender Bath Salts

makes one bath

1 cup Epsom, Sea, Himalayan (if you're fancy) or Kosher salt (or a fun combination!)
1-2 tsp Jojoba oil (if jojoba isn't available, go for sweet almond or apricot kernel oil)
6-10  total drops Lavender essential oil

Pour salt into a medium bowl.  Mix in 1-2 tsp of jojoba/almond/apricot oil (more if you want more in-tub moisturization) with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until blended well.  Then slowly drop in Lavender EO--less for small bodies, more for larger bodies (but no more than 10 drops) while stirring.  Mix thoroughly.

Turn off all your screens (yes, you can do it!), fill a bath, stir in bath salts.  Hop in.  Read a book that has real pages. Have a glass of wine (or a hot cup of tea).  Chill.  Renew.  Relax.  Repeat.


  1. I've done some reading about the benefits of Epsom salt and there is a lot of people who are against the idea that it does anything for the body at all. (When put in a bath). Where i was reading basically attributed the idea that the salt does anything is an old wives tale and no one can explain what it does.

    1. In my own experience, using salts in baths reduces inflammation, muscle pain/soreness, and overall body tension. For this specific purpose, the reason for using salts in an essential oil bath is to act as an emulsifier for the oils. Otherwise, when you sprinkle EOs into water, it just sits on the top. The salt helps the oils to blend with the water and incorporate them into the tub.