Essential oils are everywhere: from the health food store to even some doctors' offices, it feels like everyone is hopping on the essential oil train these days.
Arguably the most well-known essential oil is lavender oil, the most calming and detoxifying of the bunch. But can it help ward off pests??
Check out our full guide below to find out the full scale of benefits this aromatherapy all-star boasts.
What is Lavender Oil?
Lavender oil is a liquid made from the distilled essence of the lavender flower.
This "oil" is not really an oil in the typical sense—it doesn't leave behind a greasy residue, but rather it encompasses the main elements of its root form. In this case, the root is the lavender flower.
How Does Lavender Oil Work?
Lavender oil is full of a chemical compound called Lavandin, which contains deodorizing and antibacterial properties.
In addition to this, lavender oil contains esters at the chemical level which help it give off a soothing effect when inhaled or applied sparingly to the skin.
What Are the Benefits and Uses of Lavender Oil?
Did you know that moths can't stand the smell of lavender? We humans find the scent pleasing and calming, but moths would rather pack up and leave your home than sit in your house and deal with its aroma!
Ants, too, are warded off by lavender's strong scent. The American College of Healthcare Sciences recommends that you diffuse lavender oil in the air or leave it stagnant in a saucer to keep ants and other insects out.
Hair Revitalization to Combat Dandruff
One tip for silky-smooth hair is to mix a few droplets of lavender oil with olive oil, creating a DIY hair treatment.
Work the oil treatment into the roots and let it sit on your scalp for about an hour. The chemical makeup of the lavender oil will bring your tired hair back to life, and fortify the skin on your scalp. After an hour, wash the oil mixture out of your hair and repeat the process as needed as every few days.
Sunburn and Skin Treatment
If you're suffering from a sunburn (or any kind of burn, for that matter), lavender oil can help speed the healing process along. It's calming properties help to soothe the irritated skin and keep you comfortable while your body takes care of itself.
To apply lavender oil to your skin, mix a few droplets of pure lavender oil with an unrefined oil of your choice. This unrefined oil will act as a sort of "gateway oil" and carry the lavender into your pores so that it can work its magic.
This is the most common usage for lavender oil out there: to soothe the twinge of anxiety. Because of the chemical makeup at the core of the lavender flower, this essential oil is ideally suited to assuage feelings of stress when applied topically or inhaled in small doses.
Not only does lavender reduce the production of cortisol (the body's stress hormone), but it relieves generalized anxiety in a manner comparable to that of benzodiazepine (lorazepam), which is a high-powered pharmaceutical.
A study in Taiwan recently revealed that elementary school teachers (who are known to work in notoriously stressful conditions) actually benefitted substantially from a physical from aromatherapy sessions.
Though aromatherapy has only recently begun to gain traction, it's catching on as a new method of self-care, and its benefits are many. When diffusing lavender as an aromatherapeutic tool, you can enjoy its calming and deodorizing properties in your air at all times.
What actually is aromatherapy? Take a look at the video below for a quick explanation.
Which Products Use Lavender Oil?
Where is lavender oil likely to be found?
100% Pure Lavender Essential Oil
This is its most popular form: its unrefined state. In order to reap the full benefits of this essential oil, you should always ensure that you're purchasing 100% pure lavender oil, and not a synthetic version.
Most health food stores will carry lavender oil, and seeing as how it's one of the most well-known essential oils, it shouldn't be too difficult to locate in a larger-level grocery store. If you're not sure where to look in your area, check with an online retailer.
Lavender essential oil is produced through a very distinct process, which you can learn about in the video below.
Lavender Oil Capsules
These capsules are specially-designed to be ingested orally, on a daily basis. The capsules harness the stress-relieving power of lavender and give you the convenience of simply swallowing a pill and getting on with your day.
Despite lavender's calming effects, the capsules provide a non-drowsy relief, meaning you won't be affected by a phantom sleepiness for the rest of your day.
Body Lotion Infused with Lavender Oil
Think of a cake for a moment: it's already sweet and delicious...does it need the frosting on top. Not really, but does that stop someone from adding it? Again, nope!
The same can be said for body lotion infused for lavender oil: lotion already gets the job done to effectively moisturize the skin. And yet, adding the lavender oil takes it one step further. By going the extra mile, the lotion adds a little something extra and creates a calming effect for the user.
When Should You Consider Using A Lavender Oil-Based Product?
Okay, so we've covered the basics on why lavender oil is a pretty awesome resource for humans.
But what about the fight against pests? What makes lavender oil stand a chance against traditional pesticides??
It's been shown that by mixing two drops of lavender oil with the same amount of tea tree oil in a solution of water and using it as a shampoo, that you can knock out head lice with a snap.
The same concept holds true for fleas—these parasites latch onto your pet in the same way that head lice do, and will die off under the same circumstances with this solution.
For some quick tips on how to use lavender on your dog's fur to banish fleas, check out this video!
Research shows that while mosquitoes may not be completely repelled by the scent of lavender, the frequency of bites significantly decreases in instances where lavender is applied.
Is Lavender Oil Dangerous To Humans?
With statistics like these, there has to be a catch. If lavender oil is such a beneficial alternative in terms of pest control, what kinds of problems could it cause to someone if it were taken in abundance?
General Side Effects
Lavender oil has an incredibly low toxicity, and is recommended as a suitable alternative to medications for anxiety and depression due to its lack of side effects.
In fact, this essential oil has been shown to deliver such a calming affect (without any adverse reactions) that it's been given to surgeons and nurses before performing surgical procedures as a method to cope with pre-operative stress.
However, it's worth noting that in some cases, as studied by the New England Journal of Medicine, lavender oil can be the culprit of hormone changes, particularly in boys and men.
During a Pregnancy
Essential oils can cross the placental barrier and reach the developing fetus, so it's best to exercise caution when using an essential oil during a pregnancy. If you or your partner chooses to utilize lavender oil while pregnant, dilute the oil to a 0.5 ratio.
For Babies and Toddlers
The American College of Health Sciences does not recommend the use of essential oils around babies and toddlers, even gentle and calming oils such as lavender.
Is Lavender Oil Dangerous To Cats?
If cats become exposed to too much lavender oil, it acts less like a tranquil, serene mood booster and more like a poison to these feline friends.
And yet, there are a few products out there designed for kitties that do have a pinch of lavender so that cats, too, can get a taste of the magical "chill-out" properties that lavender has to offer.
It's important to always keep an eye out as to whether you're overloading your cat with too much lavender, because there is a such thing as an overexposure. Symptoms of an overexposure include:
- irritation to the skin and paw pads
- weight changes
- depression and behavioral changes
Is Lavender Oil Dangerous To Dogs?
It's been shown by publications from Tufts that shelter dogs who were exposed to diffusions of essential oils including lavender were more relaxed and soothed after these short burst of aromatherapy sessions. Thus, the dogs were exhibiting desirable behavior traits and were more likely to be adopted by shelter visitors.
In small amounts, lavender oil can be as beneficial to dogs as it is to humans.
Though we were unable to dig up any scientific backing to conclude that lavender oil may have some side effects toward dogs, it's best to exercise caution.
Keep an eye on your dog if it roams around an area and could be exposed to lavender oil in excessive quantities, and stay vigilant in case your dog exhibits signs of behavioral changes.
What Does The Government Think About Lavender Oil?
Essential oils are not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, and therefore not generally recognized by the government as pesticides.
This doesn't mean, however, that the government doesn't ave anything to do with them. Check out what the two important agencies below think of lavender oil.
Environmental Protection Agency
While there's no distinct fact sheet on the EPA website for lavender oil, this is actually a good thing. In fact, the less information the EPA posts about an essential oil, the better.
Essential oils are basically the anti-pesticides: they work to achieve the same goal as a pesticide while doing it in a wildly different way.
In fact, the only information that EPA has on lavender oil whatsoever is an ingredient fact sheet for an all-purpose soap which happens to contain lavender.
National Center for Biotechnology Information
Research from the NCBI on lavender oil is plentiful, but one such study sticks out at the top of a search query, pointing to lavender oil as a vehicle to decrease stress and increase feelings of contentment.
Lavender Oil Vs Other Stuff
What makes lavender oil a better choice than the other essential oils?
Well, it's not necessarily that lavender is a better choice, but that each oil has different strengths and benefits. Check out some different perks of these essential oils below.
Lavender Oil vs Tea Tree Oil
While lavender oil and tea tree oil can be used in many of the same ways (to combat dandruff, acne, and dry skin, just to name a few), there are a few benefits of tea tree oil that lavender actually doesn't boast.
For example, did you know that you can fight halitosis with tea tree oil? In addition, this particular essential oil can fight off scabies, and works to soothe the respiratory system as well.
Lavender Oil vs Rosemary Oil
Lavender oil is, essentially, a "Jack of all Trades" in the world of essential oils. This mighty serum can do it all, and it balances the job quite well.
Rosemary oil, on the other hand, is much more specialized. This essential oil zeroes in on just one aspect of improvement and works to revitalize a failing aspect where it's needed. Most commonly, people take rosemary oil for damaged, unhealthy hair.
Lavender Oil vs Lavender Extract
The major difference between any essential oil and its extract (be it lavender, rosemary, or whichever scent you may find) is this: the essential oil will always carry the medicinal properties with it from its plant form.
The extract is nothing more than a fragrant piece of decor used for cooking, or simply to make your house smell nice.
Final Thoughts on Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is frequently called the "Swiss Army Knife" of essential oils because of its versatility—not only can it ease mental health issues like anxiety and depression, but it can improve cardiovascular function and clear your mind if you're having a stressful day.
Its toxicity to animals is low, and as long as you keep an eye on your furry friends around your lavender diffuser or lavender-infused products, they shouldn't see any ill-effects from lavender oil.
In terms of pest control, this is an excellent option due to its health benefits to humans, its pleasant smell, and its overall effectiveness.
Other Pest Chemical Guides
Curious about other pest control chemicals? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.