Lavender is often called the 'mother' of essential oils, and it is no wonder - there is seemingly nothing that lavender oil can't fix. A supreme first aid remedy, and calming and relaxing when we are stressed and anxious - all things a mother is.
Lavender has been used throughout history for a variety of protection purposes. Healthline mentions a few historical uses of lavender, saying that "beyond scenting bed linen and clothing, lavender was hung above doors to protect against evil spirits. We know now it’s a strong antimicrobial that may help prevent certain diseases, but back then the idea was that lavender protected against evil fits. Sixteenth-century glovemakers who perfumed their ware with the herb were said to not catch cholera. Seventh-century thieves who washed in lavender after robbing graves didn’t get the plague. In the 19th century, gypsy travelers sold bunches of lavender on the streets of London to bring people good luck and protect against ill fortune."
As well as being protective against disease, Lavender was, and is, known for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and wound healing actions. The discovery of the healing powers of Lavender oil 'gave birth' to what we know as aromatherapy today - the story of Rene Gattefosse plunging his burned arm into a vat of distilled lavender oil and noticing the rapid healing of his wound is well known.
First and foremost however, among the many attributes of lavender oil, and the one it is most well-known for, is the way it instantly calms, relaxes, reduces stress and anxiety, and acts as a sedative, as well as being balancing and uplifting. Holmes (2016) says "the large theme that emerges from the totality of Lavender's therapeutic effects is one where relaxation is balanced by restoration, followed by a net regulating effect". It is generally accepted by everyone (even people who 'don't believe' in aromatherapy) to be calming and relaxing when inhaled, with a scent absolutely everyone is familiar with.
It is one of the few essential oils that has a multitude of clinical studies providing scientific evidence that prove its effectiveness in cetain conditions. These include its use for anxiety, inflammation, headaches, relaxation, insomnia and wound healing, among others. It is a cooling oil, and so it is also useful for muscle and period pain. As well as repelling mozzies and calming the itch from their bites, lavender oil is almost a one-stop-shop first aid remedy. Holmes (2016) says of the muti-faceted use of lavender, "its...versatile therapeutic actions and multi-purpose usefulness in first-aid situations have always made it a popular choice".
Because of this, lavender is likely one of the most widely-used essential oils, due to its very broad range of actions. Holmes (2016) sums up lavender perfectly - "Today Lavender is arguably the most popular of all oils and can be considered a polycrest aromatic remedy... although there are plenty of oils that will duplicate Lavender's individual functions, there is no oil quite able to perform all of its functions".
Culpeper (2019) the 17th century herbalist and physician, reported that "lavender is of special good use for all the griefs and pains of the head". He states that lavender is a herb of Mercury - Mercury rules the brain, the nervous system and the respiratory system. We know lavender has an affinity with, and is strongly indicated for these systems. The negative side to Mercury can be an excess of anxiety and nervous energy - and we know lavender to be calming and relaxing for these conditions. Mercury is also adaptable - again a trait we see with lavender, the way it can calm and sedate yet balance and uplift, with its chemical profile making it an extremely versatile and adaptable oil.
Holmes (2016) describes lavender beautifully when he says "the net result of Lavender's ability to generate emotional renewal is a refreshed, equanimous state where everything is poise and composure". These are words that sum up my own mother. What a beautiful gift from her, and what a beautiful gift from nature that can offer such a thing.
Culpeper, N. Culpeper's Complete Herbal. 2019. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Davis, P. Astrological Aromatherapy. 2002. The C.W Daniel Company Limited.
Holmes, P. Aromatica, Volume 1. (2016) Singing Dragon.