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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Maximizing the Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil

Mar 29, 2024 09:31AM ● By Debra Stoltzfus and Susan C. Beam


Celebrated for both its light, sweet floral aroma and therapeutic benefits, lavender is considered one of the most important and popular essential oils for both experts and novices, with annual sales of nearly $50 million worldwide. But not all lavender essential oils are created equal, and testing shows a wide variance in the chemical composition of products on the market.

To know which is the best lavender oil to buy, it is useful to know that many brands are made from the mass-cultivated Lavandula hybrida, also known as the lavandin plant. They will still have a refreshing lavender aroma, but with fewer potential therapeutic benefits. While an economical choice for use as a fragrance, oil created from lavandin is not typically recommended for aromatherapy and other medicinal applications.

By comparison, true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is widely celebrated for its antimicrobial, sedative, analgesic and anti-rheumatic properties. In addition to the distinctive aroma, oils made from these plants have reputed mental, emotional and physical benefits. What makes this type of lavender so special is that in plants, the chemical composition is affected by environmental factors such as soil composition, rainfall, sunlight and altitude. True lavender is grown at a high elevation to increase the development of a light, powdery ester, linalyl acetate, the principal source of both lavender’s potent fragrance and its beneficial properties, including the calming and soothing effects it is famous for.

Likewise, certain regions of the world have unique environments which also contribute to a high ester count. While lavender is grown all over the globe, the variety grown in Provence, France, particularly in the Plateau de Caussols region, is regarded as superior due to its altitude, environment and selective cultivation, all of which maximize potential benefits and provide a sweet, refreshing aroma similar to freshly cut flowers.

True lavender has manifold potential. Diffusing or inhaling it is useful for promoting emotional balance, calming heightened emotions and easing racing thoughts. People in the Middle Ages were known to scent their pillows with lavender—not only for its antiseptic and aromatic properties—but also for restful sleep. Because of the enhanced aroma of a high-ester-count lavender, it is more likely to be enjoyed as a particularly aromatic perfume, a laundry scent or even a fragrant bath additive when blended with a carrier oil.

As an antibacterial agent, true lavender is also useful for cultivating healing. The Greeks and Romans were known to use this oil specifically for medicinal purposes. Applying two or three drops of true lavender essential oil to skin issues, including bites, stings, cuts, abrasions or burns, can ease pain and speed healing, and mixing one or two drops with a facial toner can help alleviate acne. To ease the pain of earache, warm lavender in a hot water bath, then gently massage a few drops around the skin of the ear.

With all of these benefits, investing in a lavender oil with maximum aromatic and therapeutic properties can be an excellent choice. To determine the ester count of an oil, verify the country of cultivation and request a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) report to provide insight into the chemical makeup of an oil. Even better, visit a reputable seller and discuss the properties of oils and how to use them.

Because lavender is such a versatile oil, it is no surprise that it continues to be so popular. Whether used to ease the sting of an insect bite, blended with a carrier oil for a relaxing massage or sprinkled on a pillow for a restful night’s sleep, lavender is a powerful staple in any oil collection.

Chemist and blend master Debra Stoltzfus, owner of Inshanti Pure Essential Oils, in Kinzers, has been active in the wellness industry for more than 20 years with advanced certification in aromatic medicine. For more information, visit

Susan Cherie Beam, Ph.D., is a Visiting Assistant Professor at York College of Pennsylvania and a freelance writer who is deeply committed to optimizing emotional and physical well-being for all.