The Relaxing Scent of Lavender

The Relaxing Scent of Lavender

By Richard Pallardy

One of the ingredients that features heavily in our Nirvana fragrance is lavender, and it was always a scent that we wanted to showcase. The idea of using lavender might seem old-fashioned to many people, but you’d be surprised at just how many commercial fragrances it’s actually in and the benefits that come with it. We wanted to share a little more about it and so we asked Chicago based writer Richard Pallardy to shed a little light on its background.

The use of lavender in personal products has an ancient history that stretches back to the Romans, who valued the herb for its aromatic qualities. They used it in their bathing rituals and in the laundering of clothing, and its spicy, pungent scent remains a favourite for use in soaps, lotions, and other body products today. There are around forty-eight types of lavender, of which only a handful are used commercially, but the highest quality oil is extracted from the flowers and leaves of Lavendula angustifolia, or English lavender.

Lavender is grown in many parts of the world, from France to Bulgaria and Australia to the United States. However, it’s interesting to remember that one of the centres of lavender production used to be Croydon in the United Kingdom. Britain’s output was more highly valued than France but, over time, fashions changed and many lavender fields were replaced with traditional farming. There has been a resurgence in the fortunes of Britain’s homegrown lavender, but it’s no longer the biggest producer.

The oil is extracted using a number of methods, but the most popular is by steam distillation. This takes the flowers and leaves and suspends them over boiling water, the oils then being carried away by the steam. Lavender has been found to have beneficial properties with many people saying that it acts as a natural sedative, aiding in sleep, and also assists with anxiety as well. The oil is also thought to be anti-inflammatory, to relax and sooth muscles, and acts as an antiseptic.

You’ll find that studies on these properties are conflicting, but it is certain that many will definitely find the scent relaxing. If you are looking to garner the true benefits of this aromatic delight, do as the Romans did. Look for products that use steam-distilled oil made from English lavender. The piquant, bracing smell of these oils is unmistakable, and you’ll be more likely to reap the physical and psychological benefits that are associated with this timeless and versatile herb.

Richard Pallardy is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago.

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