The Essential Oil Element: Lavender
Lavender, The Best Essential Oil for Beginners
In my first Essential Oil Element series on Bridle & Bone, I am focusing on lavender. Widely considered to be the most popular of all essential oils, it is often a person’s first foray into aromatherapy.
The use of lavender has been documented for over 2500 years. The fragrant smell, mild effect, incredible medicinal benefits mean lavender is popular among many species and for many uses. As a result, lavender is one of the best essential oils for beginners. If you are interested in working with aromatherapy, this is a great place to start.
What is Lavender?
While lavender is the common name, the plant is scientifically known as Lavandula, a member of the mint family. The variation most commonly found in essential oils is Lavandula angustifolia.
Where is Lavender Found?
Lavender is found native throughout many parts of the world including: Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun and in many areas can grow so wild as to become invasive.
The most common lavender is English Lavender or Lavandula angustifolia. The Discovery Channel made a video regarding the making of lavender oil and “floral waters” or hydrosols and you can view it in depth here.
Properties of Lavender Essential Oil
- Anti viral
- Anti inflammatory
- Anxiety Relief
Lavender essential oil is often used for skin conditions, to reduce the appearance of eczema or ringworm, burns, frostbite, or as a calming aid.
This oil has a wide array of uses from healing salves, dry skin creams, bath and beauty products, and even food. Because of it’s skin healing properties and calming fragrance it serves many functions and is usually the “go-to” essential oil in any collection.
How to Apply this Essential Oil
Lavender may be applied:
- Orally in water or food.
- Topically, directly on the skin or indirectly using a cotton ball.
- Air diffusion.
Essential oils are condensed and a little goes a long way. They should be diluted with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, almond oil, or shea butter for best results. The smaller the animal, the more diluted the oil should be. According to The Animal Desk Reference (<-affiliate link) by Melissa Shelton DVM , the general rule of thumb is 1 drop per 20 lbs. weight for dogs and 1 drop per 200 lbs. for horses.
Cons of Lavender
As always it is best to start small with oils and increase gradually as needed. In some cases, the oil may cause skin irritation or headache.
In the Event of a Negative Reaction
A negative reaction to essential oils may appear as circling, whining, attempt to rub the site of contact or in rare cases vomiting and diarrhea. If this occurs, you may rinse your pet in that spot with milk to counteract the oil. If symptoms persist, please contact your veterinarian.
Lavender is one of the easiest essential oils to use because it is has so many medicinal properties and is used for a wide variety of problems. Lavender is generally safe for dogs and horses, however, you should buy Certified Therapeutic Grade essential oils that are harvested sustainably. Buying from a company such as doTerra (Wellness Advocate ID 3184569) , Young Living, or Mountain Rose Herbs is best.
* Disclaimer: Before you use essential oils contact your vet to determine if there are any complications with your animal’s medications. This article is for educational purposes only. Massage professionals are not qualified to diagnose, treat, or prescribe medication.
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The Contemporary Pet
I’ve recently started using a diffuser with lavender essential oil at night to help me relax and fall asleep easier. It really works, and even my husband has noticed a difference. It’s so much better than taking a sleeping pill and doesn’t leave me groggy the next day.
It’s so relaxing! I have a lavender tea as well that I use when I’m a bit anxious. Lavender is one of my favorites for good reason.
Savvy Pet Care (@savvypetcare)
I received a bottle of lavender oil as a gift a while back and have never used it. I have some eczema on my face and never thought of using it for that. Going to give it a try.
Would love to know what you think! Remember, a little goes a long way and it should be diluted. Start with one drop in jojoba or coconut oil for your face. Good luck!
Lavendar smells so good! I forgot all the benefits. Learning about the toxic ingredients in aerosols, I’m looking forward to getting diffusers in the near future. Lavendar and vanilla will be my first choice! Thanks for sharing these benefits.
Great choices! Diffusers are easy to use, just make sure you wipe them down periodically with alcohol so mold doesn’t build up.
The Daily Pip
I love lavender and definitely believe in its calming quality. I had no idea it also helped with frostbite.
We have tried growing english lavender in our yard – though sadly not very successfully.
Oh no, really? We had some lavender in the landscaping of our old house, which the previous owners had incorporated. The bees and butterflies loved it- my husband not so much.
Tenacious Little Terrier
We used to use lavender before going to sleep but haven’t in a while. I guess we need to stock up!
Yes you should! It’s good for both of you.
There is a LOT of talk about essential oils and their safety at the moment. Most people go off the deep end and don’t read up on the science (admittedly there is a LOT of science written about oils).
The one thing I read that made sense in that the essential oil you but must be from a supplier who you trust, as many oils may be diluted with an extender. For the profit of a big company maybe (?) and this something a small supplier might avoid (?)
I think cat parents might ask their vets, horses I suspect may be a bit more robust and cope better with the oil – right?
Yes, Marjorie it is important to get good quality oils. I tell people if it’s sold in a grocery store you shouldn’t use it. Better to be safe than sorry. Cats especially are very sensitive to oils and many are toxic so ALWAYS check with your vet first. Horses are more robust in that they weigh more and can often have higher dosage, but they are extremely sensitive creatures so I always caution to start with the least amount possible.
I have a lavender spray for dogs which I spray on Layla’s beds on nights when there are storms and it totally relaxes her. Have given one to a friend also who says its the best gift ever as her rescued dog is finally sleeping at nights
I love to hear that! Fantastic news.
Lola The Rescued Cat
I haven’t used lavender in quite a while, but I think I will tonight. It’s so calming! I’m going to look into a lavender tea as well.
Ooh yes! It is so relaxing.
Lavender is my absolute favorite! It helped so much with Rico’s anxiety when he was younger, too.
You are not alone, lavender is usually everyone’s favorite!
Ah, interesting. We use lavender oil all the time but only in the environment. Never considered using it topically.
If you do decide to use it topically, I’d love to know what you think.
I’ve always heard about the positive results of lavender for humans, but I’m hearing a lot of research lately about keeping essential oils away from cats because of their toxicity. I know you know what you are doing, but I will err on the side of caution and not use them.
Marjorie of Dash Kitten sent me a great article about this. Generally it is thought because cats metabolize oils differently, and many are toxic to cats but not all. It is always better to err on the side of caution and consult your veterinarian.
I had no idea that lavender had so many uses! I just got a diffuser for Christmas and look forward to reading the rest of your essential oil series!
Thanks Debbie! I hope the series proves helpful to you and the pups. Enjoy your new diffuser!
My mom adores lavender, so I grew up with lavender sachets and plants, but essential oils are new to me. I’ve been contemplating getting a diffuser, and after reading this I think I just might. One of my dogs is a little on the anxious side, maybe some lavender oil would help her.
It will certainly not hurt! I’d love to hear what you think after using it.
I keep Lavender in my kitchen for burns and in my medicine cabinet in BOTH bathrooms I swear by it! It is the best thing for burns and I swear by it. It also helps calm and soothe which I love. Luckily my Lyla can use it for her nerves and it helps immensely! Other favorite EOs of mine are tea tree and peppermint but honestly I have over 200 essential oils. Some get way more love than others lol. GREAT post and I hope more people get into using EOs!!
Yes, yes, yes! Lavender, tea tree, and peppermint are arguably the 3 essential oils everyone should have in their cabinet. Can’t wait to talk all things aromatherapy in Kansas City.
Me too!!! 🙂 Excited to see you there!
I haven’t used essential oils before. I think about a decade ago, I got a bottle of Rescue Remedy to help calm a dog during thunderstorms. It didn’t seem to help, so I stopped using it. After reading your post, I think maybe I should give lavender a try.
Sorry to hear about Rescue Remedy. It’s a bit different because it uses a floral base rather than essential oils though. I would love to hear about your experience with lavender if you give it a try.
Essential oils is a hot topic right now as there is a post circulating about its potential toxicity in cats. I do diffuse essential oils especially lavender at night. I and I am definitely going to do more research and fact checking about the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of essential oils and cats!
P.S. My tortie cat hates the smell of lavender!
Yes, this has been an ongoing argument for some time. Cats are not my specialty but I will be researching it further. Lavender is considered generally safe for cats by many veterinarians.
Three Chatty Cats
Great info on lavender! I don’t currently use it, but I would definitely be interested in trying it. And it smells so good!
Yes I absolutely agree! I was in Provence France last year and they had so many lovely lavender candies, candles, and more. I was in heaven.
I use lavender in a diffuser for a calming effect. I did not realize that it can be eaten. Thanks for the tips.
Absolutely! Glad to share some knowledge.