25 Unconventional Ways To Use Lavender To Calm & Soothe You

Photo: getty
25 Unconventional Ways To Use Lavender To Calm & Soothe You
Self

It's the only plant you'll ever need.

My love affair with lavender started early on. My mother would create lavender sachets from the flower garden, and the aroma would seep through my clothes.

Later, I discovered the usefulness of this flower for so many things. And when it comes to how to use lavender oil, particularly, there are other benefits apart from the pure joy of looking at its beauty and inhaling its fragrance. 

What is lavender and where can you find it?

RELATED: New Study Finds That Scents Can Help You With Anxiety & Stress

Lavender is mostly known for its calming and soothing effects, but there are actually a lot of other lesser-known uses for this wonder plant. Lavender (Lavandula) has over 45 species and is a member of the mint family.

Its name stems from the Latin verb "lavare," which means "to wash," likely because of its use in baths to purify the mind and body. The flowers can range from white to various shades of blue to the purple color namesake.

To truly experience lavender, you must visit a lavender farm. Provence, France, is the world's largest lavender region. However, if you can't make it there, there are some magnificent lavender farms around the world, including in Croatia, Bulgaria, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the US.

This shrub grows mainly in dry, sandy soil in full sun in temperate climates. It requires minimal effort to grow and maintain, and is harvested by hand primarily in June and July. If you take good care of it, your lavender will bloom for ten years.

The best time to pick the flowers is in the morning. Tie an elastic band around a bundle, then hang them on a hook to dry them out for about two weeks.

The spikes on the shrub produce the oil that gives lavender its delightful smell. You can try making lavender oil yourself, but commercially, it's distilled using steam. Purchase the best lavender oil you can find, preferably organic, to ensure the purest quality.

What is lavender used for?

Lavender has been used historically for many purposes. 

Ancient Egyptian civilizations used lavender as part of the embalming process, and it was said to have been found in King Tut's tomb. The ancient Greeks learned much from the Egyptians about perfume, and anointed their feet with lavender oil. Ancient Romans adopted it, too, and hung lavender in the bedrooms to arouse their spouses.

Throughout the Middle Ages, lavender grew in popularity and was soon used extensively by kings and queens of England to treat everything from lice, migraines and epilepsy. They also used it to perfume their soaps and linens. Lavender was a hot commodity during the Black Plague as it was thought to ward off illness.

Lavender's medicinal use expanded during WWI when it was used as an antiseptic to clean and dress wounds. Many civilizations and cultures have used lavender and its many forms over time, and its use has continued to evolve.

Is lavender safe to use?

The National Institutes of Health says lavender is likely safe in food in small amounts. The exceptions are pregnant and breastfeeding women, as there aren't enough studies to validate its effects. The oil should not be given orally to young kids — particularly boys, as it is thought to be a hormone disruptor.

While lavender has some fantastic sedating, cholesterol-lowering, and blood thinning effects, anyone taking anti-anxiety, antidepressant, sleep medications, cholesterol medication or blood thinners should check with their doctor first before using it.

Avoid using lavender oil directly on the skin; always use a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond or olive oil. Take caution in the sun, also, as lavender may cause photosensitivity.

Assuming you've taken these precautions, lavender in its various forms can be your best friend, there in a pinch to save the day or just to savor.

Whether it's using it in essential oils, or picking some from a garden, here are 25 delightful ways to bring lavender into your life and reap its benefits.

RELATED: What Are Essential Oils? + How They Work & Which Are The Best To Use

1. Sleep aid

Get to sleep more easily with lavender's soothing scent cradling you. Mix a few drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle of water, and mist your sheets and blankets.

For the little ones, you can spray it on a Kleenex and tuck it under the mattress for a less intense smell. If someone needs a cuddle in the night, you can buy a stuffed toy with a pouch that you can stash a lavender sachet inside.

2. Air cleaner

Use an aromatherapy diffuser or make up a squirt bottle of ten drops of lavender oil and water. Spritz around the house.

3. Drawer perfume

You don't have to entice your sweetheart with a lavender sachet in your bustier as Victorian women supposedly did. Just add a lavender pouch to your lingerie drawer and let its marvelous scent do its thing. Everything you put in the drawer will smell heavenly.

4. Moth deterrent

You can prevent moths from invading your space and precious mementos by storing lavender in your cupboards and chests.

5. Carpet deodorizer

Add a few drops of lavender oil to baking soda, sprinkle and vacuum up. No more pet odors!

6. General household cleaner and disinfectant

Whether you simply want a healthier alternative to bleach and other noxious chemicals, or you're trying to stop the spread of the flu in your household, lavender oil can do the job. It's a perfect addition to cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, and adds an extra germ-killing punch. 

Keep a water bottle handy with about ten drops of oil per two cups of water, then spritz and wipe down surfaces.

7. Toilet freshener

Are you tired of using toxic toilet cleaners? Kill microbes and freshen the bowl at the same time with this lavender oil concoction. 

Sprinkle the bowl with baking soda, then spray with a spray bottle filled with water, a cup of white vinegar, and about ten drops of lavender oil. Scrub and enjoy! The bonus is a more sustainable solution.

Don't forget to label your spray bottles so you’re not mixing up your chemicals (and use caution not to mix with commercial toilet bowl cleaners).

8. Laundry and washing machine cleaner

Add a few drops of oil to a natural soap, and hand wash your toughest stains. You can also add lavender to the washing machine to kill whatever germs are lurking in your towels.

This wonder oil will also sanitize your appliances at the same time, or you can run a separate cycle to remove build-up.

9. Stress reliever

Eliminate tension and anxiety in a flash. Inhale some oil or use a rollerball and rub it on your wrists. Apply lavender body lotion, or hand or foot cream to enjoy the benefits all day and night.

10. Insect repellant

Are you thinking of going to the cottage or a tropical destination? Some lavender oil mixed with a base oil will deter little pests, especially on places like your ankles, back of the neck and ears.

Rest easy and partake in the bonfire without the need for harsh chemical repellents.

11. First aid

Use it to treat bug bites and minor burns with its antiseptic and anti-itch remedy.

12. Anti-inflammatory

Add a few drops to some jojoba, sesame, or other oil, and massage away your aches and pains.

13. PMS relief

As an anti-inflammatory, lavender works well on PMS-related headaches, swelling, and mood swings. Take a sniff or massage some oil (inside a carrier oil), and you'll be back to yourself in no time.

RELATED: 20 Best Stress Relief Products For Home Relaxation

14. Hair tonic and hair loss treatment

Lavender is an excellent hair tonic. It livens up your tresses, and it can even help them to grow (it worked on this study on mice, and it might work for you, too). Use a shampoo with lavender to recover from postpartum hair loss.

You'll also find lavender oil in many natural lice removers. You can even make your own by adding a few drops to some olive oil to make a hair treatment that will scare away those nasty creatures.

15. Bath soother

This is the most common use for lavender. Make your own bath bombs or salts with it and soak away all away your troubles.

16. Refreshing drink

On a hot summer’s day, there's nothing more refreshing than a tall glass of lemonade. Add to the detoxifying benefits of lemon juice by adding some lavender into the mix.

You can make lemonade by simmering a pint of water, eight ounces of sugar, zest from three lemons, and three tablespoons of dried lavender flowers, then add the juice of three lemons. Cool, strain, and enjoy!

(If you like this recipe, you might experiment with adding lavender to your evening cocktail.)

17. Cooking aromatic

Lavender is a definite flavor booster, and it has become a staple in herbs de Provence. It adds a floral and sweet flavor to many dishes.

18. Delicate desserts

If your go-to dessert is a pint of ice cream, you haven't lived until you've had lavender ice cream. Pair it with chocolate for a sinfully good treat. Traditionally, English lavender buds are used in shortbread cookies and scones, but they are now cropping up in many tasty desserts. Try some of these recipes.

19. Cake decoration

Not only lavender is a fresh addition to desserts, but it's a great topper and all-around cake decorator. 

20. Tea complement

Some dried lavender blossoms make a perfect complement to Earl Grey or mint tea. Alternatively, you can buy tea that is already infused with lavender. Pair this with a lavender scone and create a dreamy afternoon escape.

21. Potpourri

A dish of lavender potpourri is multipurpose: it elegantly appoints a room and fills it with a beautiful scent.

22. Art projects

Decorate your home with photos and paintings of lavender. There is nothing more stunning and calming than a field of lavender.

23. Gardening

Plant lavender on your walkway and smell the aroma when you pass by each day. The fresh sprigs add color and texture to your garden, while providing you with so many practical uses.

24. Aphrodisiac

Follow this routine and get in the mood with just a little help from natural herbs: 

  • Bathe in lavender salts
  • Smooth on lavender lotion
  • Light some candles
  • Arrange bouquets of lavender and lavender buds

25. Honeybee attractor

Over the past few years, there has been a call-out from environmentalists to plant bee-friendly gardens to sustain bee population killed by pesticides. Bees are the most significant pollinators of food crops in the world, and our food sources are depending on them in the ecosystem.

Lavender is one of the top bee-attracting plants. Save the bees! When you plant lavender, you’re doing your small part for the environment.

Lavender provides an abundance of options to look and feel great, appeal to all your senses, and make your home and garden a clean and beautiful delight. Enjoy lavender in these new ways, every day. Better yet, never run out of this wonder shrub and save your environment: grow some yourself!

RELATED: The Different Types Of Essential Oils And How Aromatherapy Works

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Lisa Petsinis is a career and life coach as well as a self-described health nut and lavender aficionado. Contact her for more information.

Author
Expert