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By Laurie Chance Smith

Originally published in Massage Bodywork magazine, July/August 2008. Copyright 2008. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) essential oil is a one-stop medicine chest. Numerous studies indicate that when combined with massage, lavender's familiar scent reduces anxiety, fatigue, and stress and balances hormones, increases the immune response, lowers blood pressure, and relieves pain.


Home Remedies
To utilize lavender's healing benefits at home, mix five to 10 drops of lavender essential oil in one ounce of jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) oil or unscented lotion. (Essential oils shouldn't be applied directly to the skin; it's best to partner them with a carrier oil, liquid, or lotion.) Keep the bottle handy--one drop helps take the sting out of bug bites and the heat out of minor burns. In Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child, Valerie Ann Worwood suggests massage with lavender to ease pain and promote healing of blisters. Aromatherapist Jeanne Rose advises the inhalation and massage of lavender to ease hiccups. Rub the blended oil on your palms, inhale, and then massage the sternum.

Earaches
For earaches, dab one drop of lavender massage oil behind the ear and rub gently. Alternatively, place one drop of lavender oil on a cotton ball and carefully place inside the outer ear. In Aromatherapy for Women, Maggie Tisserand explains that lavender's "healing vapors find their way into the inner ear and take away the pain."

Headaches
Inhaling lavender is also effective for headache relief. Add a few drops to a bowl of warm water and breathe. Gently rub lavender massage lotion on the temples, forehead, and base of the neck, says Pam Conrad, registered nurse and certified clinical aromatherapist.

Colds
Lavender oil can also help break up coughs and clear sinuses. Colorado-based holistic aromatherapist Nicola McGill suggests the regular home-use of antiseptic essential oils such as lavender to help avoid colds and other infectious diseases. Add a few drops to a vaporizer to infuse the home with lavender's scent.

Stress
At night, six to eight drops of lavender added to a warm bath helps melt away stress. Blend a footbath by adding three drops of lavender to a bowl of warm water, sink your feet in, and relax. In a study at Japan's National Sanyo Hospital, a three-minute foot soak in lavender water helped relieve patients' fatigue. For help inducing sleep, add two or three drops of lavender essential oil to the underside corner of your pillow. Remember, though, that a strong whiff can invigorate the senses.


Tranquil Aroma
A human takes 23,040 breaths a day, and each inhale floods the system with scent, says Diane Ackerman in A Natural History of the Senses. Rely on lavender's tranquil aroma to clear the way toward peaceful days and relaxing nights.

Laurie Chance Smith lives, plays, and writes in a lavender-scented home in Texas. You may contact her at jamesorlaurie@sbcglobal.net.




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