Lavender is an aromatic plant rich in history and myth. With its roots in the past, its healing qualities grew through the centuries. It is often mentioned in the Bible, not by the name lavender, but rather by the name spikenard, which was used at that time; it was the oil Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet (for that reason alone every home should have a bottle).
In the 12th century, German herbalist Hildegard von Bingen declared that lavender was good for maintaining a pure character and Queen Victoria used lavender tonic for her nerves. The ancient Greeks used lavender to fight insomnia and back aches and the Romans used lavender in public baths, which is where it derived the Latin term Lavare-meaning to wash. With its history of healing properties, radiant blue hue and soft subtle fragrance, lavender has remained the leading herb for a variety of uses. It is cultivated all over the world. Bulgaria, England, the United States and France are historically known for producing lavender essential oil. The oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh flowering tops since this method produces the best grade of essential oil. Lavender smells fresh and clean with a floral, woody undertone as its pleasant aroma permeates the air.
The flowering spikes can be dried and used internally in a tincture, though the extracted essential oil is more commonly used. Therapeutically, lavender is one of the most adaptable and safest of all essential oils. Among the numerous varieties of lavender grown, the most important are spike lavender (Lavandula spica), french lavender (Lavanduala stoechas) and true lavender (Lavanduala angustifolia). True lavender is the most important medicinally and is recommended for use in aromatherapy. Lavender has the ability to restore balance, making it valuable when dealing with stress, anxiety and panic attacks. Like chamomile, lavender essential oil works to relieve headaches, insomnia and nervous tension.
Research shows the scent of lavender lowers heart rate and blood pressure, It is also beneficial for cleansing cuts and wounds as well as burns because it speeds healing with little or no scaring. Its natural anti-inflammatory properties help reduce itching, swelling, and redness.
Lavender is one of the best oils to use as an antiseptic and antibiotic. Most oils need a carrier oil; lavender can be used straight from the bottle.
1. Lavender Antibacterial Spray: Add 4 ounces of water and 24 drops of lavender oil to a spray mister bottle. Shake contents vigorously to mix. Spray the mixture on your hands, in the air or on surfaces when needed.
2. Lavender Body Scrub: Combine 1 cup of dried lavender flowers, 2 cups of sea salt, 6 drops lavender oil (Lavanduala angustifolia) and 3 drops of geranium oil ((Pelargonium graveolens) in a jar. Mix together and leave in a dark place to infuse for at least two weeks.
3. Lavender Bath Fling: Add 6 drops lavender (Lavanduala angustifolia), 6 drops ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) and 1/2 teaspoon jojoba oil to your bath water and RELAX!
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Patricia Brooks is the editor-in-chief of Aromatherapy Thymes Magazine, the premier publication dedicated to sharing the most current information about the aromatherapy industry and the practical use of essential oils. Visit Aromatherapy Thymes for more information.