Posts Tagged ‘antiseptic’

Lavender: The World’s Smallest Medicine Chest

Written by Vivoderm Admin on . Posted in Ingredients

Detail of garden lavender flowers

Detail of garden lavender flowers

Lavender is a hardy, fragrant shrub that has narrow leaves and grey-blue flowers and can grow to a height of three feet. While the aroma of lavender can be found throughout the entire plant, essential oil can only be obtained from the flower. Originally grown in the mountains of Europe, in poor but well-drained soils, lavender is now grown worldwide. However, the primary aromatherapy producers are France, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Russia.

HISTORY

The word lavender often conjures wonderful images of purple colored fields in the south of France. Sometimes referred to as the Swiss army knife of herbs, lavender has been used throughout history. The Persians, Greeks, and Romans all used lavender to disinfect their sick rooms. The term lavender is derived from the Latin word ‘lavare,’which means to wash. With its many cleansing capabilities, lavender was the Romans’aromatic and medicinal choice for scenting their bathwater and making ointments to heal the body.

During the Great Plague, lavender was part of four thieves’ vinegar, a mixture that was said to be used with great success by grave robbers in order to avoid contracting the deadly disease. It also has a long history in the development of modern aromatherapy. Maurice Gattefosse’s observation of the dramatic healing effect of lavender oil when he burned his hand in a laboratory accident led him to research essential oils in Bunch of lavender on a white background.greater depth. Dr. Jean Valnet used lavender oil to treat serious burns and war injuries when he was a French army surgeon. The medicinal use of lavender, especially in essential oils, continues today with good reason.

There are many different varieties of lavender, some of which are considered more important because of their specific properties. The most common plants are spike lavender (Lavandula spica), French lavender (Lavandula stoechas), and true lavender or English lavender (Lavandula officinalis or Lavandula angustifolia).

CHEMISTRY

To truly understand lavender, its chemistry needs to be explored, including linalyl acetate – an ester that is anti-inflammatory – and linalool, an alcohol that gives lavender its antiseptic properties. When buying lavender for clinical uses, true lavender 40/42 is required, with the numbers representing the required minimum percentage of these two particular pieces of chemistry. In comparison, Bulgarian lavender has a gentler aroma and has linalyl acetate and linalool in percentages of 38/40. It is important to know the country of origin of any of the essential oils being used in the spa because its location of growth, climate, harvesting techniques, and distillation temperature all determine its chemistry and, therefore, its properties.

For example, a dry and hot summer will create a higher percentage of esters than a damp summer would. Furthermore, Alpine lavender is always higher in esters than plants grown at lower altitudes. Alpine lavender also has a more camphorous smell, but it is more useful for treating respiratory conditions. The chemistry of this oil is also unique in a different way.

It not only has the ability to have its own action enhanced by other oils, but, in turn, it also heightens the action of the oils it is mixed with. In the process of custom blending oils for a client, lavender should be considered in most blends for its ability to bring a blend of oils together in their action and aromatic odor.

USING LAVENDER IN THE SPA

Of all the essential oils used in clinical aromatherapy, lavender is undoubtedly the most versatile, with a wide range of properties from analgesic to antiseptic. It is an essential oil that should be in every first aid kit in every spa. As a sedative, lavender is very effective;
when used as an inhalation at night, it will aid in sleep. A small amount of lavender oil can be massaged onto the throat to relieve a cough. The sedative action of the oil will calm the cough. Lavender will also relieve many forms of headaches if massaged onto the temples. For best results, combine it with peppermint and eucalyptus in a cold pressed oil and gently massage it onto the temples and the back of the neck.Aromatherapy oil

Another popular use for lavender is in the relief of muscle and joint pain. Because it is considered an analgesic, it is best used in a massage treatment or in a bath and should be combined with other analgesic oils, such as rosemary, black pepper, clove, and peppermint. Muscle pain, menstrual pain, and arthritic pain can all benefit from the application of the oil, resulting in reduced inflammation and the calming of the central nervous system. As an antiseptic, it is also soothing and anti-inflammatory, thus making it very useful for many skin conditions. Its delicate aroma also lends itself to being blended in creams and lotions, usually in a dilution of one percent to two percent.

In the spa, lavender is very valuable in the treatment of acne. As an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, it not only inhibits the bacteria causing the infection, but also calms the redness associated with acne. Furthermore, it can be blended with ylang ylang to help reduce sebaceous flow. Lavender can also help in many cases of eczema and blends well with chamomile and peppermint to calm the skin. When using lavender for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, be sure to use it in low dilutions of less than one percent.

One of the most important properties of lavender is its ability to restore unbalanced states, whether of mind or body, to a place in which healing can occur. With summer just around the corner, consider lavender for its insecticidal properties. When combined with oils such as lemon, citronella, eucalyptus, and tea tree, it makes a great mosquito repellant, as well as a lotion for the treatment of insect bites. Lavender can also be used to alleviate sunburns and sunstrokes when prepared in a light lotion, cold compress, or cold gel.

It has been used for centuries to protect clothes and linens from moths. When combined with oils such as myrrh, lemongrass, and tea tree, lavender can be used as fungicidal for the treatment of athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.

MIND AND SPIRIT

Lavender flower and extractLavender oil is useful for relieving stress. Stress that becomes counterproductive on a physiological level involves either the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic hyperfunctioning is triggered more by physicalstress while parasympathetic hyperfunctioning is caused more by emotional stress. Lavender oil will inhibit both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system functions. By selectively inhibiting either sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous excess, lavender can assist responses to unproductive stress of any kind.

Salvatore Battaglia quotes Peter Holmes as suggesting the use of lavender in acute crisis situations dominated by sudden, unpredictable, and spontaneous features. Holmes also states that lavender can promote personal renewal in every way by washing away past habits and opening clients up to new possibilities. (1) It helps by producing inner acceptance of a painful situation, easing fear, and creating the strength that allows people to move on.

Lavender has been the focus of many clinical trials and is being used in hospital wards as a massage oil, a vapor to help dispel anxiety, and an alternative to orthodox drugs to help patients sleep. Gabriel Mojay equates lavender with Virgo, the astrological sign. He speaks of the characteristics of Virgo to include oversensitivity and inhibition, using lavender to “calm the nervous anxiety that results in shyness and embarrassment.”(2)

Lavender should be used wisely because, while a small amount is calming, too much can be stimulating. Always remember that as popular as lavender is, it is not everyone’s favorite aromatic oil, but if it is blended well with other oils, clients will greatly benefit from its amazing, medicinal properties.

 

 

References
1 Battaglia, S. (2003). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Brisbane: International Centre
of Holistic Aromatherapy.
2 Mojay, G. (1999). Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance
with Essential Oils. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Author Trish Green, director of sales and marketing for Eve Taylor North America, has been an educator for 40 years. She is an international speaker, educating aesthetician across the United States and Canada. As a CIDESCO aesthetician and a homeopath, she specializes in the wellness approach in her aesthetic practice, offering a unique approach to the treatment of clients in the spa.

Dermascope Magazine, July 2016

Lavender As A Key Ingredient in Skin Care Products

Written by Author on . Posted in Products

Our skin is the reflection of our health and vitality, physical, mental and emotional wellness. A radiant and glowing skin indicates good health, positive attitude and vibrates self-confidence. One of the best ways to take good care of your skin is to feed it natural, nourshing ingredients. Avoiding toxins and chemical-laden products will do wonders to help many skin and health issues, such as; clearing up acne-prone skin, gaining a more restful nights sleep, fewer trips to the doctor or pharmacist, gaining an overall healthier appearance and energetic body and mind.

Of the many herbal and organic ingredients we can choose for our skincare and health regimes, lavender is by far the most-well-known, frequently used and most versatile.

What is Lavender?

Lavender’s botanical name is Lavendula officinalis / angustifolia. Lavender is a member of the Labiatae Family and is a native of the Mediterranean and Middle East regions, however, lavender plantations are now widely found around the world as species hybridisation
has enabled lavender to be grown commercially outside its natural climatic range.  The grey-green foliage and purple-blue flower spike of lavender is easily identified and commonly seen in herb gardens. Its aroma originating from the essential oil contained in lavender is readily recognized, especially when the flowers or leaves are touched.

Where does Lavender come from?

The most well known lavender comes from the Mediterranean region of France. The essential oil from the ‘French lavender’, is often preferred by Aromatherapists. However, there are two main species, Lavandula latifolia (spike or sweet lavender) and L. angustifolia (English/French lavender) that are used in commerce. Today, it flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States.

What are the properties in Lavender?

Lavender is used in many forms. Herbalists are most likely to use lavender in the form of tea or as a herbal extract. Aromatherapist
however, will use the essential oil extracted by steam distillation from the flowers of lavender in their treatments. And newer pharmceutical and skin care usage has seen lavender explode as a key ingredient in everything from soaps to skin creams to cosmetics.

Benefits of Lavender:

This versatile essential oil is familiar not only to many herbalists and skin care experts but to many laypersons as well. If you search the kitchen or first aid kit of any serious herbalist – lavender will most likely be there in the largest quantity. Lavender is one of the best natural ingredients to help stop the pain from minor kitchen accidents such as burns from the oven/stove or knife cuts. A drop of lavender can ease the pain, and only the addition of the gel-like innards of a freshly sliced open aloe vera leaf is as good a remedy for instant relief. Combining the two is recommended, as aloe vera instantly cools a hot burn.  For sunburn pain, lavender is also recommended. Pesky mosquito or other insect bites bothering you? Try adding lavender essential oil to the problem area(s) and your skin will thank you.

Headaches may disappear when you massage a tiny amount of lavender on your temples or the nape of your neck.

Lavender and relaxation are two words that are virtually synonymous with each other. However, according to author Erich Keller in his book ‘Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair and Skin Care’ he writes: “Lavender is an all-purpose oil for skin care. Its effect is antibacterial, pain-relieving, healing for wounds, soothing for skin diseases, deodorizing, antiseptic, fungicidal, insect-repelling, rejuvenating, and anti-inflammatory. It may be used to treat all types of skin and is effective for acne and oily hair (as it regulates sebum production), itchy skin, hand care, cracked skin, bruises, shock injuries (in ice-cold compresses), acne scars, blisters, abscesses, furuncles, warts, boils, eczema, athlete’s foot (tea tree is more effective here, however), wounds, and burns. A bath with lavender soothes and heals the skin after sunburn.”

In either case, lavender has many powerful, therapeutic applications, which include:  Depression, insomnia, migraine, hysteria, nervous tension and paralysis.

Although it is not really anti-inflammatory, lavender is often useful where there is inflammation, hence its use in burns, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, boils, rheumatism, wounds, ulcers, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, cystitis, diarrhoea, laryngitis, etc. Lavender is well known for its wound healing, cleansing and toning properties and removes redness and heat from the skin, making Lavender oil a suitable addition to any skin care preparation and for any skin type.

Lavender has been shown to be very useful in the relief of burns in which case it can be applied neat to the area. Research has confirmed that lavender produces calming, soothing, and sedative effects.

Using natural ingredients is crucial to making good quality natural skin care products. Not only are using natural ingredients safer to use, but they also have less negative impact on our environment.  Lavender is suitable for use in any skin type. It’s gentle, soothing and calming properties are especially indicated for use on sensitive, dry and/or irritated skin. It is also a popular ingredient in shampoos, soaps, hair conditioners and body lotions.

Lavender’s use in skin care products is far and wide. Because of its soothing, calming properties it is an ideal ingredient in cleansers and moisturizers, but is also of value in toners and masks.  In moisturizers, lavender may be combined with other ingredients such as chamomile, jojoba, calendula, avocado and others, to reinforce the calming and soothing effects of lavender.