Lavender Oil Benefits
Lavender has been used as a fragrance and a folk medicine since the beginning of recorded history. The botanical name Lavendula derives the Latin, Lavare, meaning "to wash." Lavender is part of the Labiatae family, comprising aromatic herbs such as thyme, savory, oregano, peppermint, and sage.
Lavender grows wild in many parts of the world, in the hot and dry regions of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the desert regions of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Ethiopia. Tradition tells us that French lavender originated in Persia or the Canary Isles.
Today lavender is farmed in France, England, China, the Mediterranean region, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, Australia, Japan, Canada and in Washington state in the United States.
The plant has blue-green leaves and bright blue blossoms. Both the leaves and flowers are fragrant. 150 pounds of lavender flowers produce one pound of essential oil that is aged for one year before it is released. Lavender has light, floral scent with woody undertones.
The French lavender oil excels all other types in quality, possessing a characteristic sweetness of odor.
Provence is now the world's largest lavender producer, with the area of Grasse as the center of the French perfume industry.
Traditionally lavender was used to scent the linen closet and white linens were once spread over lavender bushes in the south of France.
Lavender oil has a long history. In the Bible there is the story of Judith, who anointed herself with perfumes including lavender, seducing Holofernes, the enemy commander.
Once he was under her scented influence, she murdered him and saved the City of Jerusalem from destruction. Both the Queen of Sheba and Cleopatra are said to have used the power of perfume in seducing their lovers.
Lavender played a sensual role in the famous Roman public bath houses as Romans used aromatic oils to scent their bodies and bath water. Elizabeth the 1st and Queen Victoria were devotees of lavender.
Queen Elizabeth drank copious cups of lavender tea to treat her frequent migraine headaches. During the reign of Queen Victoria, lavender floral waters and smelling salts were in fashion and part of every ladies toilette.
The oil of lavender also has soothing effects on the skin. Oil of Lavender was used on wounds in ancient Greece and Rome over 2000 years ago.
Lavender oil was used in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome to clean hospitals and sick rooms. Roman soldiers carried lavender oil in first-aid kits on their campaigns. The oil has been clinically used to cleanse cuts, bruises and skin irritations. The aroma of lavender oil was thought to be cleansing and soothing for the spirit.
Today this essential oil is widely used in clinical wound-treatment products. In one placebo-controlled blinded study of 635 women, it was found that the application of oil of lavender to the outer birth canal resulted in much less pain and discomfort after childbirth.
The pure lavender fragrance in many perfumes does not have the soothing and pain reducing properties of the pure oil which contains over 50 different compounds.
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Pure Essential Oils
The term oil in "essential oils" is not truly accurate but a traditional term.
Essential oils are very volatile fragrances that easily evaporate and greatly differ in character from oils such as olive or safflower oil. Essential oils, derived from plant extracts, are complex mixtures of plant-produced chemicals. Essential lavender oil contains more than fifty plant-produced chemicals.
Pure essential oils are expensive and must be obtained from reputable sources. Adulteration of essential oils is very common since a product like rose oil yields just 0.2% essential oil.
While the finest natural French lavender oils harvested in the Haute Provence are up to 70% linalyl acetate, many lavender oils from France have higher levels of linalyl acetate. However, such oil is fortified with synthetic products and may have no traces of natural lavender. Sandalwood oil can be adulterated with diverse oils such as caster, palm and linseed.
Essential oils are remarkably free of side effects - which is reflected by their long use by humans. Some people may have allergies to oils such as cinnamon oil and juniper berry oil but we do not use these oils.
The best pheromone products consist of essential oils.
Skin Health and Essential Oils
Surprisingly, many of the traditional mood altering essential oils also have been historically used for skin care.
Patchouli has also been used as an anti-inflammatory and an aid for dry, cracked skin.
Oil of lavender has soothing effects on the skin and was used on wounds in ancient Greece and Rome and still is today.
Sandalwood has been used for skin regeneration and to treat acne, dry skin, rashes, chapped skin, eczema, itching and sensitive skin.
Ylang Ylang has been used to treat eczema, acne, oily skin, and irritation associated with insect stings or bites.
Auguste Galopin in "The Perfume of Women and the Sense of Smell in Love"
Culter WB, Friedmann E, & McCoy NL, Pheromonal influences on sociosexual behavior in men, Archives of Sexual Behavior. 1997;27(1):1-13.
Cohn BA, In search of human skin pheromones, Arch Dermatol. 1994;130(8):1048-51.
Singer AG, A chemistry of mammalian pheromones, J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1991; 39(4B):627-32.
Nicoli RM & Nicoli JM, Biochimie de l'Eros, Contracept Fertil Sex. 1995;23(2):137-44.
Sobel N, Prabhakaran V, Hartley CA, Desmond JE, Glover GH, Sullivan EV, & Gabrieli JD, Blind smell: brain activation induced by an undetected air-borne chemical, Brain. 1999;122( Pt 2):209-17.
Porter RH & Winberg J, Unique salience of maternal breast odors for newborn infants, Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1999;23(3):439-49.
Winberg J & Porter RH, Olfaction and human neonatal behavior: clinical implications, Acta Paediatr 1998;87(1):6-10.
Kohl JV & Franceour RT, The Scent of Eros (Continuum Publishing) 1995. This is a very excellent book for the general public on pheromones and behavior.