I am currently developing an essential oils course for doulas. As a part of the course, the student will be learning around 40 different oils. One of my favorites to use, particularly during pregancy and birth, is lavender oil. Below is an indepth look at what lavender oil is, how it is used, and any safety considerations. Enjoy!
Essential Oil Profile for English Lavender
Botanical Name: Laveandula angustifolia
Common Names: true lavender, English lavender, common lavender, garden lavender
Synonyms: L. officinalis Chaix, L. spica L., L. vera DC
Botanical Family: Lamiaceae(Labiatae)
Geographical Origin: Found in the mountain regions of France, Italy, and Spain. It has been introduced outside this area and is now found all over Europe.
Habitat: found among rocks in hot environments. It is also cultivated in gardens.
Extraction Method: steam distillation
Aroma: sweet, floral, herbaceous
Relevant Chemical Composition: apinene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, cis-ocimene, trans-ocimene, 3-octanone, camphor, linalool, linalyl acetate, caryophyllene, terpinen-4-ol, and lavendulyl acetate
Physical Characteristics: a woody evergreen shrub that grows to be about 3.5 ft tall. It has fine silvery-green leaves and bluish purple flowers.
Traditional and General Uses: the Latin word ‘lavera’ means to wash and it was used by the Romans in their baths. Dried flowers have been used in sachets or tied together. It has traditionally been used to soothe the nerves. It was also used to help with restlessness or insomnia. The Egyptians used it as a part of mummification. Used as an antiseptic and disinfectant by the Arabs.
Therapeutic Uses: Scar/wound healing, agitation, insomnia
Cautions and Contraindications
Pregnancy: While it has been cautioned to use during pregnancy, there is no clinical evidence to support that belief. Most authoritative sources regard lavender as safe during pregnancy.
Research has shown no increase in frequency or malformation or other harmful effects on the fetus.
It is recommended not to use lavender oil internally during pregnancy.
Gastrointestinal: some stomach cramping has been reported with lavender oil.
Allergies: Possible contact dermatitis.
Evidence: Supports anxiolytic effects and improves sleep. May improve postoperative and menstrual pain. Antimicrobial and pesticidal.
In a bath- 6 drops for a 20L bath
Inhalation-2-4 drops in 2-3 cups boiling water or diffuser
Massage- 1-4 drops/20ml of base oil
Internally-no more than two drops should be taken internally
Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Heral Medicinal Procucts. (2015). Sarah E. Edwards, Ines de Rocha, Elizabeth Williamson, Michael Heinrich.
Supporting a Physiologic Approach to Pregnancy and Birth: A Practical Guide. (2013). Melissa Avery.
Lavender: The Genus Lavandula. (2003). Maria Lis-Balchin.
Aromatherapy Easy Guide for Beginners. (2015). Daniela Marrone
Herbs and Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Guide, Volume 2. (2015). Lesley Braun, Marc Cohen.