I doubt that there are many of you reading this post who have not come across Lavender in your lifetime. It is a beautiful plant in the garden and its perfume has been used for centuries as part of many cultures bathing rituals.
Its botanical name is Lavandula Officinalis and you will usually find it called English Lavender or garden Lavender. In fact its name belies the fact that originally it was found in Mediterranean region as well in Africa and some parts of Russia.
The Romans used daily in their bathwater and also as we do today, in small sachets placed between layers of clothing to keep them fresh smelling and to act as a natural deoderant. A few centuries later, as hygiene took a back seat in the Middle Ages, it would be used in oil form to kill bed bugs and lice.
Certainly few warriors went into battle without a bottle of lavender oil, as it was considered to be a powerful antiseptic’ and this has been backed up by modern scientists in a laboratory setting where the oil has been found to kill bacteria.
It can be taken as an infusion with a teaspoon of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water and allowed to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Over the centuries it has been used to treat indigestion, insomnia, stress, pain, rheumatism, toothache and low blood pressure.
Not every culture would have used for the same conditions but generally as an antispasmodic it would have been used to relieve menstrual cramps as well as intestinal cramps. In Spain for example it has been used in the treatment of diabetes and in South America it is used as an infusion to treat PMS. Elsewhere you will find it is used as a headache or migraine cure.
Externally as an oil it is soothing for skin rashes and insect bites. If you are out hiking or in areas where there are mosquitos and other biting insects, oil of lavender can prevent you being stung in the first place.
You can add five or six drops to your bath, add three of four drops to 15ml of a carrier oil for massage and of course infuse the fresh herb for tea. I use prepared teabags at the moment as we do not have lavender in the garden but do make sure that you buy organic. You can get some very soothing combinations such as chamomile and lavender. To help you sleep you can put some lavender herbs into a small porous bag and put under your pillow.
When not to use lavender.
As with any herb you do have to remember that it is a medicine and its effects will either increase the potency of a specific drug or weaken it. In the case of lavender this applies to anti-depressants and blood thinners.. Check with a pharmacist if you are on any prescribed medication before using.
You should not take internally when you are pregant however lavender can be used in as a bath oil or if you are seeing a massage therapist in the second trimester onwards. However it should not be used as an oil in the first three months or if you have a history of miscarriage.
Do check with a qualified practitioner before using any oils when pregnant.
Stop using immediately if you develop a skin rash to the oil products or you feel nauseous when drinking the tea.
Thank you for dropping by and hope you found interesting.. another herb to add to your medicine cabinet. Sally