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Lavender’s Surprising Healing Powers

From kitchen burns to depression, lavender can cure more than you think.


We all know lavender is a wonderful aromatic for everything from hair to sheets but, as Patricia Gantz-Polland discovered, it is also a great source of healing.

For her, the herb eased muscle pain, but lavender can help many physical and even mental ailments.

Lavender is generally used in two forms, as an herb and as an essential oil. In herbal form, it is ground up and made into tea. But lavender’s oil is its claim to fame.

In addition to aromatherapy oil, you can find it in many bath products, or as extracts and infusions.

There are a few things you should know before joining the purple revolution. Mindy Green, author of Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, recommends checking that the Latin name for lavender is on the bottle (lavandula angustifolia or lavandula officinalis) to ensure it’s not lavendin. Often manufacturers use the latter because it’s cheaper to produce.

Though lavendin has a similar fragrance, it is not as complex in its constituents and thus does not have as full a range of healing properties as lavender.

Here are several ways you can use this healing herb.

For the mind: To relieve stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia

Use in the bath or by inhalation. Bath is best because you’re already there to relax. You can either add 5-8 drops of essential oil to the water or, if you have sensitive skin, first mix 5-8 drops with a teaspoon of olive oil then add to the water.

To inhale the oil, put a few drops on tissue and take several breaths, use an inhaler, or breathe it in from a bottle.

For the skin: Relieves kitchen burns, sunburn, insect bites and inflammation

On a small burn or bite, apply a few drops of the oil, undiluted. If the burn covers a large area, as in a sunburn, dilute it with aloe vera juice and apply it with a spray bottle.

For the body: Relieves headache, muscle ache, joint pain, circulation, shingles and respiratory problems

Use lavender in a diffuser. Or combine 10 drops of essential oil with 1 ounce of carrier oil such as almond oil or sunflower oil, or with unscented lotion. For external use, this is a general rule.

Read Patricia’s story The Lavender Cure to find out how her passion turned into something more.

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