Relaxing with Lavender

by Jeanne Rose

Aromatherapy is the use of the scent of plants and particularly their essential oils in healing. The effects of the aroma on the human body are two-fold. They are effective physiologically - they directly affect the organ or tissue; - and they are psychological, that is they act through the sense of smell on the mind and emotions. The effectiveness of aromatherapy varies enormously from individual to individual. A person living a more simple life and eating pure and simple foods often has a more acute perception. Essences can be inhaled or ingested and even the simple eating of flowers in foods or salads is a way of using the essence of plants in healing.

For massage, Mrs. E.B.C. McPherson says that aromatherapy is an original method of application of essential oils with a therapeutic massage technique based on new points and Chinese connective tissue massage. Applied to the skin, essential oils have a great influence in regulating activity of the capillaries and restoring vitality to the tissues. In an aging skin the oils restore muscles to a healthy condition, soften tissues to get rid of excess fluid and waste materials or on the contrary to help them hydrate. They will also act as a blood regulator by improving circulation by the pressure on nerve centers.

HOW TO EXTRACT SCENT from Lavender: There are many methods that one can use to 'get' the scent out of a plant and these have been detailed in several books including my own Herbal Body Book. One method is as follows: Fill a large jar three-quarters full of a light Olive oil, fill it up with flowers of the Lavender (and some Calendula). Small flowers should be chosen, and they should all be stripped of their stalks and leaves to leave room for as many flowers as possible. Leave them to macerate for twenty-four hours in the oil, then pour the contents of the whole jar in a double boiler and heat the oil just to boiling. Let it cool and then strain. You will need a strainer lined with silk (or panty hose). Let the oil drip through without a lot of squeezing. If you want the end result to be a one flower oil then you must start and finish with the same flower. This formula yields an infused oil. There is an art to the extraction of scent from flowers and this art is much older than distillation. Distillation is generally used for the herbaceous plants but home methods will yield a good quality infused oil if care is taken.

HOW TO APPLY SCENT: There are several modes of application of the scents, including: direct inhalation of odors; direct application of oils on acupuncture points; indirect application of oils using the infused method and gentle forms of massage; internal application of oils through ingestion; and indirect application using the entire plant (herbal baths, inhalations, facial steams).

INHALATION of Lavender oil will be relaxing and soothing. Make sure that you use only the most softly scented Lavenders for your infusions and inhalations. Check out the Lavender collection in the Flight of Lavender kit for the best of these essential oils and hydrosols.

Other Uses: The oil and spirit are good when taken internally for all sorts of pains in the head and for the brain, as a restorative and tonic against faints, weakness, giddiness, spasms, colic, vertigo -and with oil of Rosemary for loss of memory or for anti-aging. Lavender relieves melancholy and raises the spirits. Externally, a few drops in a hot footbath is used for fatigue, or neuralgia. A hot compress relieves toothache, sprain and rheumatism. Lavender oil can be rubbed on the temples for a nervous headache. The Lavender hydrosol is sprayed on the face for skin care, to relieve eyestrain, for cooling and soothing the temper. It works just as well on seniors or for babies.
A tea brewed from the tops is excellent to drink to relieve a headache caused from excess fatigue or exhaustion or for a slight stimulation to wake you up. Fomentation of Lavender in bags can be used as an analgesic to relieve pain or as an therapeutic mask for the face.
Hydrosol of Lavender can be gargled for hoarseness, added to teas for flavor. The hydrosol is an antiseptic for swabbing pimples, wounds, acne, or sores. The hydrosol is used as a wash for puffy eyes, bruises, bites, and other minor external sores or blemishes to normalize the sebaceous glands and reduce puffiness, and as a hair rinse to reduce oiliness.

The dried plant is added to baths and facial steaming herbs to stimulate the complexion, cleanse the skin, and act as an aromatic astringent; it can be mixed with any other herb, especially Rosemary, Comfrey and Rose. It is commonly use in potpourris and sachets.

For more information, please consult The Herbal Body book or The Aromatherapy Book by Jeanne Rose. She can be reached at, use e-mail at or write to
219 Carl St. San Francisco, CA 94117. Phone 415/564-6785 or fax 415/564-6799.

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