Blame Aromatherapy On Lavender Essential Oil

In 1920's France, the chemist Dr. Rene' Gattefosse' was burned in a cosmetics laboratory explosion. Since it was lavender essential oil he was studying, he plunged his burnt hand into it. The rest is aromatherapy history. His hand not only healed, but did not have the heavy scarring common from burn injuries. Curious as to what he'd stumbled onto, Dr. Gattefosse' experimented more with essential oils derived from herbs, plants, resins, fruits and spices. He eventually wrote a book in 1928 about his findings. He titled it after the name he gave to this new kind of healing - Aromatherapy.

What's Old Is New Again

The good French doctor was by no means the first person who used herbs, plants and essential oils to help minor ailments and alter moods. For millennia, shamans and healers had only nature to turn to for their drugstore. One Native American legend says it was by observing bears that man learned medicine. We owe a big debt to whatever bear showed whatever person the medicinal uses of lavender essential oil. What Dr. Gattefosse' did was reintroduce an ancient healing art to the modern Western world.

Not Just Any Old Lavender

There are many species in the lavender family and not all of them are best for medicinal lavender essential oil. If the label does not give a Latin name for what lavender species are used or says "For oil burning lamps only," put them back. The species you are looking for is Lavendula augustifolia, Lavendula spica and Lavendula stoechas. They cost more, but they are worth it. Besides, a little goes a long way.

Lavender essential oil can be used in many ways, and it is generally safe enough to use pure from the bottle, instead of blended into other oils. Just to be safe, do a patch test first. Put a drop on your arm or leg and see if anything happens to it in twenty four hours. If nothing happens, you are ready to rock.

Lavender essential oil soothes, cleans and helps with fever, itchiness and sleeplessness. It can be used by sniffing straight from the bottle, on a tissue, or in an oil burner. No more than six drops can be added to your bath. One milliliter (about 15 drops) can be added to ten milliliters of a base oil like olive or jojoba for a soothing massage. It can be added to rinse water for your hair or your laundry. It can be added to non-scented plain body lotions or cold creams. It's already in a lot of cleaning and cosmetic products. Remember your grandmother keeping little pillow of dried lavender in her linen drawers? That's because lavender also keeps most pests away.