IPA’S and the Antibacterial Properties of Lavender

IPA’S and the Antibacterial Properties of Lavender

By: Cristin McDonnell

California is known as the Golden State, but what it should really be called is the BYOB state. Yes, Bring Your Own Beer! Not being from this state, I am learning that it is best you check out if an event or restaurant will be selling beer or wine before you go. I recently attended the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, which was apparently a BYOB event, and I am sure for good reason. I was looking forward to trying a California IPA while we were at the event and there was none to be found. It was cold, windy, crowded and no IPA’s, so we left and headed for a joint called the Toronado.

The Toronado. The Toronado was a test for the soul. When I arrived at this bar, I was actually disappointed that I didn’t choose to use a port-a-potty at the festival. I walked in to this dark bar, where the doorman, unpleasantly greets you with, “ID,” clearly burnt out on dealing with what may come from sitting on a cold, windy street at a bar in a location of extremes: extreme wealth, extreme poverty, extreme behavior, friendly, unfriendly, a never ending tale of what will unfold on this street.

The bathroom of the Toronado was a place for prayer.   I walked in  and immediately walked out. Any other option on this street for a restroom was not any more appealing and the smell…. When was the last time this bathroom was cleaned? What time do the doors of the Toronado actually open that this bathroom at 5:00 pm reflected a 3:00 AM club scene?

If I had the power to manifest something minimal to help me out, it

would have been lavender essential oil. I would have sprayed down the door handles, toilet seat, faucet and, well, the paper towel dispenser, forget it, because that was already empty. It was a wash your hands & kick open the door experience.

Lavender and many essential oils are known for their antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties. Studies referencing these properties can be traced as far back as the late 1800’s. Lavender’s main component is linalool, a common monotorpene alcohol, which is credited to its pharmacological properties.

Hand sanitizer’s active ingredient is isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are used because they are, “more effective at killing microorganisms than soaps and do not dry out hands as much.” Hand sanitizers have been linked to harmful chemicals, this research has led to the state of Minnesota becoming the first to ban sanitizers, soaps, etc. that contain triclosan.

If essential oils contain germ-fighting ingredients, I would prefer to trust in something found in nature, that is grown, farmed and produced using the safest methods.

I spent the summer interning at farms and vineyards where the only place you could use the bathroom was a port-a-potty and there was no way of washing your hands. I hate hand sanitizer. I have never been drawn to it, and something about it seemed intuitively wrong, just like the smell of Clorox. I became great about carrying lavender essential oil or hydrosol around to clean my hands while working at such places. When I spray my face at night with lavender hydrosol, even after washing my face, I can still see oil and dirt being wiped away. I know the power of the alcohol properties in these plants and their strong ability to cleanse and kill germs.

All of this said about the bathrooms, I still like the Toronado. It has this Seattle grunge vibe that makes me nostalgic of my days of enjoying bands like Nirvana. The crowd at this bar had a laid back vibe of rock and Bohemian mix. What I really like about this place is that they feature many local IPA’s. I will return to the Toronado for a beer again, just next time with lavender essential oil.

The bathroom of the Toronado.


Schnaublet, Kurt, Ph.D, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy. Healing Arts Press, 2011. Print.