Lavender is such a popular essential oil and is so loved for providing us with so many benefits. Most of us know what lavender smells like, and many of us have used it for its wonderful calming and relaxing properties, but do you know that lavender contains many chemical components which also make it useful for many other issues? Some of the benefits of lavender are:
• analgesic • anti-inflammatory • anti-allergenic • antibacterial • antifungal • antirheumatic • antispasmodic • sedative • anxiety relieving • deodorant • immunostimulant • skin and wound healing
There are many different types of lavender to chose from. How do we know which lavender essential oil will be best suited for our intention? That is where the knowledge of a certified aromatherapist is crucial. When most people use essential oils, they aren’t really thinking about things like chemical families, chemotypes, and chemical components. They usually are just concerned about what the oil smells like and they may have been given some very general guidelines as to how that oil can help with a specific need.
Many people, rightfully so, use lavender to support sleep and relaxation. Lavender is a perfect choice, but how do you know which lavender to chose? Do you just want to buy one off the shelf? A certified aromatherapist can guide you to the perfect oil or blend of oils based on her knowledge of the chemicals in each oil. When I purchase an essential oil, I make sure it has a GC/MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) report. These reports tell us exactly which naturally occurring chemicals, down to the percentage, are in each batch of essential oil. It guarantees that an oil is organic and I know exactly which chemical components are present and in what amount. Did you also know that different lavenders can have different aromas?
Suppose you come to me with severe insomnia. I may want to include lavender in your sleep blend. We will look at two chemical families which can support sleep. Esters are calming and soothing, they are “your friend” that you want in times of need. Linalyl Acetate is going to be the main component I am looking for in the Ester family to help you sleep, as it is very sedative and calming. The second chemical family I want to look at are the Monoterpenols, which are emotionally balancing and provide a sense of calm. Linalool is the main component I will look for in the Monoterpenol family, as it is also very sedative and calming. Let’s take a look at some various types of lavender and see how they differ. This will show you one of the ways I decide which oils to use specifically for you.
• Lavender (Bulgaria) Scent: rich, full bodied, deep sweet aroma • 37% Monoterpenols • 37% Esters • 29% linalool • 30% linalyl acetate • • Lavender (Montana) Scent: deeply floral, caramel finish • 48% Monoterpenols • 32% Esters • 40% linalool • 27% linalyl acetate • • Lavender (Washington) Scent: sweet, hints of honey • 51% Monoterpenols • 23% Esters • 32% linalool • 15% linalyl acetate • • Lavender (France) Scent: floral, fresh, slightly sweet and soft • 35% Monoterpenols • 41% Esters • 31% linalool • 38% linalyl acetate • • Lavender Maillet Scent: floral, fresh, very soft • 51% Monoterpenols • 28% Esters • 49% linalool • 27% linalyl acetate
There are some big differences in the components, aren’t there? In choosing which lavender I would use in your sleep blend, I of course want high percentages of both linalool and linalyl acetate. Depending on the blend, and on your preferences and what other issues I might be trying to address for you, the above information is extremely helpful in preparing the absolute best blend. For example, if you have insomnia and also suffer from hypertension, I am without a doubt going to chose Lavender Maillet for your blend. You will notice that it has 49% linalool! That is a very significant amount, and not only is linalool sedative, it is also hypotensive, making it the perfect choice in this instance. If you have insomnia and maybe some aches and pains at night, I would most likely chose the Lavender (France) for your blend since it has really nice percentages of both linalool and linalyl acetate which both also have analgesic properties. Of course there are no “right” or “wrong” lavender oils to choose for insomnia, but it is a great feeling to know that your certified aromatherapist has the knowledge to choose the ones she feels are are right for you, based on her knowledge, her ability to read the GC/MS reports, and knowing your preferences, your medical history and your intention for the blend.