Lavender oil is an essential oil obtained by distillation from the flower spikes of certain species of lavender. Two forms are distinguished, Lavender Flower Oil, a colorless oil, insoluble in water, having a density of 0.885 (g/mL); and Lavender Spike Oil, a distillate from the herb Lavandula latifolia, having density 0.905. Lavender Flower Oil is a designation of the National Formulary and the British Pharmacopoeia. It is not a pure compound; it is a complex mixture of natural products. Lavender oil should never be taken internally.
Lavender oil, which has long been used in the production of perfume, can also be used aromatherapeutically. The scent has a calming effect which may aid in relaxation and the reduction of anxiety. It may also help to relieve pain from tension headache when breathed in as vapor or diluted and rubbed on the skin. When added to a vaporizer, lavender oil may aid in the treatment of cough and respiratory infection.
Lavender oil may also be used as a mosquito repellant when worn as perfume or when added to lotions or hair products.
According to advocates of alternative medicine, lavender oil can be used as first aid and to treat a variety of common ailments.
The diluted or undiluted oil may be used as an antiseptic and pain reliever to be applied to minor burns and insect bites and stings. For the treatment of sunburn and sunstroke, 10 drops of oil can be diluted in 25 mL of carrier oil.
To create a massage oil which may be effective in the relief of joint and muscle pain, 1 mL of oil can be added to 1 oz. of carrier oil and rubbed liberally on the affected area. To create a chest rub for relief of asthmatic and bronchitic spasm, 1 mL of lavender oil and 5 drops of chamomile oil can be added to 10 mL of carrier oil.
As a treatment for head lice, 5-10 drops of oil can be diluted in water to produce a hair rinse, while a few drops of undiluted oil can be added to a fine comb to eliminate nits.
As far as serious ailments, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that lavender oil may have played a role in the reduction of advanced mammary tumors in lab rats. Research is on-going for potential breast, ovarian, pancreatic, liver, and prostate cancer treatments.