The herb of love and relaxation
Originating from the Mediterranean region, lavender is best known for its fragrance, but also its versatility. The herb has been used across cultures for centuries.
The name “lavender” originates from the Latin word “lavare,” which means “to wash.” Due to the herb’s disinfect and antiseptic properties, lavender played a part in ancient Rome bathing rituals. And when baths weren’t common during the, lavender was as a used as household and clothing perfume. Today, lavender is a common ingredient in soaps, washes and fragrances.
Uses: Aromatherapy, relaxation, medicinal
Lavender is known to have sedating effects and is said to relax certain muscles. Many health benefits and remedies are utilized when lavender is made into an essential oil, which is extracted from the flowers through steam distillation.
Bath salts, massage oils, teas, candles are used for aromatherapy as well tranquility. Lavender essential oil can be dropped onto pillows or yoga mats to promote relaxation. Adding oil to your bath can relieve aching muscles and stress. Lavender is known to be a sleep aid by calming the nervous system and used to help restlessness, insomnia and anxiety.
The scent is said to deter mice, flies and mosquitoes. Mix lavender with water in a spray bottle to ward off mosquitos. For bites, lavender oil can be used to soothe itching and inflammation.
Lavender is sometimes used to soothe the pain of migraine headaches, toothaches, sprains, nerve and joint pain.
Lavender can treat and soothe acne and psoriasis, cuts, scrapes and burns by inhibiting the bacteria that causes skin infection.
For sunburn, start a cool-to-lukewarm bath and pour a mixture of eight drops of lavender oil, four drops of peppermint and a teaspoon of jojoba oil, and soak for 10 minutes.
Lavender can also improve digestion and bloating.
“The polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) in lavender can help reduce the ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, author of Doctor’s Detox Diet and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
How to grow lavender:
- Grows 2 to 4 feet in diameter and 2 to 3 feet high
- Plant in an area with full sun, warm and well-drained soil
- Extremely drought resistant
- Dampness can kill lavender plants – sometimes from wet roots in the winter or high humidity in the summer
- When planting in a pot, make sure the pot has plenty of drainage
- Alkaline and chalky soil will enhance lavenders fragrance
When buds have swollen and are deep blue or purple, it is best to harvest when no more than 25 -30 percent of the flowers have blossomed.
Lavender flowers keep its fragrance when dried. When harvesting lavender for drying, pick when flower buds first begin to open. Hang in small bunches upside down for about two to three weeks.