At Leapfrog we believe that the body is brilliant and will function optimally if we give it the micronutrients that it needs, together with sleep, exercise and minimal stress. We’ve long known plants have the power to help and heal, so Leapfrog has teamed up with medical herbalist Susan Janikowski to deep dive into plant properties and their benefits.
Cue wild fantasies about running through fields of purple, enveloped by a distinctive, intense fragrance. It’s so calming and transporting, it’s no wonder it’s the most commonly used aromatherapy oil. Susan Janikowski explains what makes lavender so special, and how easy it is to incorporate into our daily lives…
Lavender, or Lavendula angustifolia, comes primarily from the Mediterranean.
The name originates from lavare, the Latin word to wash or bathe. Traditionally, it was used to perfume linen, and deter moths and other insects due to its intense smell and antiseptic qualities.
The sense of smell can have a profound effect.
It works via the limbic system, which affects memory and emotions. Fragrant flowers such as lavender and rose are commonly used to work on emotional issues. Simply smelling a flower or an essential oil can have a profound effect.
Lavender works on the nervous system and is well known for its calming and soothing properties on the mind and body.
Its heady mix of volatile oils gives it much of its medicinal properties. As well as its relaxant action it is also antispasmodic, antidepressant, antibacterial, antiseptic, analgesic and decongestant.
Lavender is the first herb and essential oil I think of when I am anxious, stressed or finding it hard to sleep.
It is especially useful for frayed nerves, physical and mental exhaustion, insomnia, tension headaches, migraines and restless legs. By improving sleep and stress it can indirectly support the immune system.
Its relaxing effects can also be felt in the digestive tract, helping to soothe spasms, and relieve flatulence, bloating and indigestion. Lavender also has an uplifting effect, stabilising emotions and helping with low mood and depression.
1. Clear spots
The natural antibacterial action of lavender means it can help with skin breakouts. The essential oil of lavender is gentler on the skin than tea tree oil.
2. Calming tea
To help with disruptive sleep, restlessness and to relax tension in the gut, put one heaped teaspoon of dried lavender in 175ml of boiling water. Leave for 10 minutes, preferably covered to avoid the loss of volatile oils in the steam, then strain and drink.
3. Facial steam
Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a bowl of hot water. Place your head over the bowl with a towel to cover – an instant at-home spa experience.
4. Cold Compress
Add a few drops of lavender essential oil diluted in a teaspoon of carrier oil to a wet flannel and chill in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag for an hour. Place on your forehead or the back of your neck to soothe if you’re feeling unwell.
5. Soothe dry skin
Make a luscious body lotion at home by combining a cup of unscented shea body butter with a ¼ cup of coconut oil, ½ tsp organic honey and 20 drops of lavender essential oil.
6. Freshen laundry
Freshen up bed linen and clothes by spraying with lavender flower water. Alternatively, place sachets of lavender flowers in clothes drawers and linen cupboards.
7. Relaxation massage
Add 10 -15 drops of lavender essential oil to 2 tablespoons of a base oil and massage into skin.
8. Clean cuts
Add a drop of lavender essential oil to a minor cut or scape for a natural antiseptic action.
9. Unblock your nose
Add 3-5 drops of lavender essential oil to a bowl of steaming water, place a towel over your head and breathe.
10. Aid sleep
Add 1-3 drops of lavender essential oil to a diffuser in your bedroom an hour before bedtime.
11. Reduce cramps
Topically applying lavender essential oil can reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. Dilute 5 -10 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of sweet almond oil or your favourite carrier oil.
12. Self-care bath
Dilute 5 -10 drops of lavender essential oil into a tablespoon of bath oil, shower gel or carrier oil along with one cup of Epsom salts. Add to warm, running bath water for a super relaxing bath.
Note: These amounts are intended for adults, not for children.
Lavender essential oil is generally considered safe to use undiluted on small areas of skin such as spots. To reduce skin sensitivity reactions use diluted in carrier oils.