The lavender plant, which is native to the Old World and is characterized by its beautiful hues and invigorating fragrance, has been used for more than 2,500 years as a cosmetic aid. The ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians, for instance, would use lavender as a natural perfume. The Romans loved to use lavender to scent their baths (in fact, lavender is derived from the Latin lavare, which means “to wash”), while the people of Medieval and Renaissance Europe used lavender to deodorize the stone floors of their castles.
Despite its significant cosmetic benefits, however, lavender is also a medicine of considerable potency. This is especially true of its oil, which is widely regarded as one of the most versatile essential oils in existence.
In 1910, the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse burned his hand during an experiment. In a desperate attempt to soothe the pain, Gattefosse rinsed his hand with lavender essence — a substance which, to his surprise, triggered a rapid healing process. From that point onwards, lavender became known across Europe as a potent natural analgesic.
Aside from burns, lavender oil helps soothe pain associated with rheumatism, backache, muscle soreness, sprains, insect bites and more. Additionally, adding a few drops of lavender oil to other ointments and skin creams increases their capacity for healing.
The vapor of lavender oil contains antibacterial properties and, when inhaled, can help soothe respiratory issues, such as sinus congestion, throat infections, whooping coughs, the flu and tonsillitis. For this reason, lavender oil is often a main ingredient in commercial vaporizers and inhalers.