Every afternoon I try to take a short walk around my neighborhood to relax, think, and get my blood flowing. I’m treated to fresh air (yes, the air is fresh in Los Angeles), vitamin D from the sunlight, and a breathtaking array of flowers. I feel grateful that so many flowers and trees bloom in January. Birds of paradise, with their punky orange and blue Mohawks, are the rock stars right now. They remind me daily that this must be paradise. Blossoms are opening like ball gowns on the bare branches of Japanese magnolias. Camelias knocked to the ground by the rain look like pink lingerie tossed to the floor. I can’t resist plucking a spear of lavender from a neighbor’s hedge and crushing the tiny blue flowers between my fingers to release their clean fragrance.
If you are lucky enough to have a lavender bush in your yard, bring some inside for a bouquet. I planted three sprigs last fall, but they are still too young to produce flowers. I can’t wait to display the slender blue shoots in bud vases and to dry them for tea. Until then, I am using lavender oil.
Lavender oil is an easy essential oil to get to know since it is already so familiar. It is also one of the safest and most useful flower essences. Most essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil, but lavender can be applied directly to the skin in small amounts. I keep a tiny bottle in my purse for a quick pick-me-up. When I am anxious, sad, grumpy or generally PMSy, I warm three drops in my palms and breathe deeply as I spread the oil over my face and neck. It is calming, improves my mood and makes me smell fresh and clean. Here are other simple ways to add lavender to your life:
Rub a drop into the temples to relieve headache.
Put a few drops in the bucket when you mop.
A drop dabbed on a pimple will go to work immediately.
Dilute in a little oil to sooth redness from burns and scars.
Lavender repels insects and a dab on insect bites calms their sting.
A few drops on the pillow will help you fall asleep and rest well.
Add it to a bedtime bath for yourself or children.
Add four drops to a tablespoon of olive oil and massage into the soles of the feet to relax.
Massage the same amount into joints and muscles sore from exercise or arthritis.
Massage a few drops into the scalp every day to prevent hair loss and stimulate growth. It makes hair shiny and prevents dandruff.
Make a tea soothing to the nerves and stomach by mixing two drops of lavender oil with honey in hot water.
Put a few drops on a wet washcloth and put it in the dryer with your laundry.
Place a drop on top of a lighbulb to scent a room.
Lavender essential oil that is to be used on the skin should always be organic therapeutic grade. While it is generally safe to apply directly to the skin, people sensitive to lavender may need to dilute it in a carrier oil such as sesame or grapeseed oil. I am not trained in aromatherapy, please do your own research before using the powerful medicine of herbs and essential oils.