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Don't Leave Without Lavender

If there was one thing I'd ask you to carry in your handbag or man-purse this summer, without a doubt, it would be the all-in-one, emergency-toolkit-in-a-bottle that's smaller than your pinky finger: lavender essential oil. I'm not kidding when I say that this single ingredient can practically replace a complete first aid kit. Just read on.

I always travel with lavender essential oil. It's so small and light, it adds no extra weight and doesn't take up space, yet what it can do is absolutely amazing. This Memorial Day weekend, I took my family to Yogaville, a yoga ashram in Buckingham, VA, to attend a retreat that included a Kids Yoga camp and three days of kirtan with singer, Krishna Das. Yogaville is nestled in the mountains in the middle of nowhere (I exaggerate, it's only an hour from Charlottesville) and surrounded by dense trees. You're on your own out there. The closest ER is your modest ashram room.

Sure enough, within hours of arriving, husband gets stung by "Killer Bee" (his words). Trying to contain his manliness he avoided screaming in the middle of the serene ashram atmosphere, but his face was beet red and I could see some amount of steam coming out of his ears. His arm had a red round bump about the size of a dime, and bumps started to appear on his skin. After having him take a few deep breaths (which he could barely do), I took out my life-in-a-bottle and applied a single drop of lavender neat on the spot. Told him not to look at the bite for one hour. An hour later, he had forgotten about the killer bee sting (maybe he was lost in the bhajans), and he couldn't remember which arm had the bite. There was no visible sign!

The kids yoga camp ended late on the first day. After a long drive and tiring day of hiking and playing, I knew the kids would be irritable and exhausted. My older daughter doesn't do well with late nights and she began crying from restlessness and depletion. I pulled out the oil, added two drops to my clean hanky, and placed it on her pillow next to her face. I asked her to inhale deeply. The scent relaxed her and in less than 10 minutes she was asleep without a wimper.

I had several more uses of the oil on the same trip (for sun headache and mosquito bites). Today, when I was thinking of a topic for next health tip, it immediately came to mind that everyone should carry this. Summer camp instructors can impress parents and comfort kids by keeping this small bottle in their back pocket. Scrape or sting? Just apply the tiniest drop of oil to the site and watch it disappear. (NOTE: More is not better. Applying more than a drop to a cut may cause burning and aggravation.)

Here are some of the conditions that can be healed with the use of lavender essential oil (and why you should not go anywhere without it!):

  1. Aching Muscles Apply epsom salt and a few drops of lavender oil to a warm bath and soak. Or add few drops of the oil to a base oil like sesame and massage into aching muscles.

  2. Acne Add a few drops of lavender oil to your facial cream and use as a moisturizer or cleanser.

  3. Bugs & Bacteria Lavender is a powerful antibacterial - in dilutions of 5 per cent or less it is lethal to bacteria that cause typhoid, TB & diphtheria.

  4. Burns (minor) After you have cooled the area by immersing it in running cold water for 5 minutes, place a drop of neat lavender oil on the burn. Pain relief is almost immediate, and burn usually heals without scarring.

  5. Cuts & Wounds Apply lavender oil directly to cut to soothe pain, prevent bacterial infection and aid scar-free healing. Apply neat.

  6. Earache Warm a bottle of lavender oil in hot water for a minute or two, then gently massage a few drops into the skin around the ears and throat. For small children, add 2-3 drops of the warmed oil to a little olive oil and massage in the same way.

  7. Eczema Add infused lavender oil (a few drops of lavender oil and base oil like almond oil) into dry, itchy skin; small children will find this especially comforting. Or add a few drops of lavender oil to calamine lotion and shake before use.

  8. Fatigue Add 10 drops of lavender oil to a hot foot bath and relax while your feet soak in it. The soles of the feet are particularly porous, so lavender reaches your bloodstream very quickly, exerting its stimulating and soothing effects on various systems of your body.

  9. Fevers Sponge down body gently with tepid water to which you have added a few drops of lavender oil.

  10. Giddy Spells, Faintness or Palpitations Inhale lavender oil added to a cloth or directly from bottle.

  11. Headache Make a compress of a piece of cloth soaked in cold water then sprinkled with a few drops of lavender oil and apply to the forehead, or massage a few drops into the forehead, temples and nape of the neck.

  12. Insomnia To help induce sleep, put 3 or 4 drops of lavender oil on your pillow and inhale deeply.

  13. Long-Haul Travel Add drop of lavender oil to your pulse points to help you keep a clear head and stay relaxed during hectic travels. Add drops of the oil to your pillows when you reach the hotel room.

  14. Menstrual Cramps Massage a few drops of lavender oil into your lower abdomen or apply a hot compress onto the area, with a little lavender oil sprinkled.

  15. Moths, Midges & Mosquitos These insects hate the smell of lavender. To prevent bites, splash yourself with lavender hydrosol before you go out at sunset, or put 3-4 drops of oil on your pillow or soak a cotton ball in the oil and leave it on a saucer in front of the window. Lavender oil is also a terrific remedy for insect bites, soothing itching & inflammation: dab it on to insect bites neat as soon as possible. To keep moths off your clothes, hang lavender bags on your coat hangers or keep them among your sweaters and refresh them with a drop or two of lavender oil from time to time.

  16. Shingles Add lavender oil drops to the lesions of shingles. It usually heals within 5-8 days.

  17. Sinusitis Add two drops of lavender & thyme oil to a bowl of near-steaming water and inhale slowly and deeply, with a towel over your head and bowl.

  18. Stress & Anxiety Keep a spritzer of lavender hydrosol handy to spray on your face during the day, or apply lavender oil neat to your temples.

  19. Sunburn Spray pure lavender hydrosol directly onto the skin or add 8 drops of lavender oil to a tablespoon of base oil like coconut oil and rub into skin. Or add several drops to warm bath and soak for 10 minutes.

  20. Depression Purchase an aromatherapy diffuser and add few drops of lavender to water in the diffuser. Place it in the room where you are working, resting or sleeping. Inhale deeply. Lavender is proven to improve mood and induce positive feelings.

This isn't even HALF of all the benefits of lavender. There is so much more that you can even find books written on the singular use of this oil! When buying lavender essential oil, make sure you are buying from a high-quality brand that is therapeutic grade and that is organic, so it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals. Also make sure the bottle states PURE essential oil, as many are mixed with other oils.

Medication Interactions: If you are taking any prescription medication for sleep-related disorders or for depression, be cautious of the fact that lavender can increase the effectiveness of these medications. Even if you use an over-the-counter sleep aid or any type of sedatives (even cough or flu medicine), keep in mind that lavender can make some people sleepy or drowsy, so it’s best to not combine lavender oil with other medications without consulting your physician. If you are planning on undergoing anesthesia in the near future, you will also want to avoid using lavender oil.

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