Lavender oil is an essential oil extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant, usually by a process of steam distillation. It's a very well known essential oil, and is extensively used in aromatherapy for its many beneficial properties.
Just for starters, lavender oil has been shown to relieve tension, ease tiredness, and reduce feelings of depression. Lavender oil can be utilized in many ways to achieve these ends. Very simply, lavender oil can be applied to a tissue or handkerchief and placed nearby while you work or sleep. Another popular way of using lavender oil is to place it in an oil burner or diffuser, and allow heat to gently dissipate the fragrance into the atmosphere, allowing you to breathe in the powerful aromas and the medicinal chemical compounds present in the lavender oil.
Lavender oil can also be added directly to bath water, preferably while the water is still running. Unlike many essential oils, lavender oil can be used directly on the skin, so it's not at all irritating. When you bathe in water that's had lavender oil added, you get the benefit of the oil not only from breathing in the aromas released by the steam, but also by absorbing some of the oil through your skin.
One important use of lavender oil that few people know about is its ability to heal burns. Putting oil on a burn seems like contradictory advice; however, lavender oil provides one of the best ways of healing and soothing burns, and if applied as soon as possible after the burn has occurred, can alleviate both pain and assist in healing.
If you are prone to burning yourself, perhaps on the oven, fireplace or even spilling boiling water on yourself lavender oil really does work wonders. All you do is apply a few drops of lavender oil to the recently burned area, and cover it with a bandage or sticking plaster (depending upon the size of the burn). The pain usually disappears within the hour (again depending upon the severity of the burn), and the burn heals easily and quickly.
The story behind the discovery of lavender oil as a treatment for burns is an interesting one. In 1910 the French chemist and perfumer, Rene Maurice Gattefosse, burned his hand badly while working in his laboratory. The only liquid close to hand was lavender oil, so without thinking, he plunged his hand straight into the oil. Not only was the pain eased almost immediately, but his hand healed quickly without scarring, much to his own surprise and delight.
Having given medical advice, it's necessary to state that you shouldn't try treating an extremely serious burn, especially on a child with anything except immediate cold water. While lavender oil is fantastic for minor burns and sunburn, it can't take the place of correct medical burn treatment when it's necessary.
Lavender oil has so many beneficial properties that it should be an integral part of anyone's medicine cabinet. You can find lavender oil at your local aromatherapy supply store or online, at one of the many aromatherapy websites.