Lovely Lavender

Ellen LordStarred Page By Ellen Lord, 22nd Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2zvu4sl_/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Gardening>Herbs

Calms and stabilizes the nervous system; relaxes the muscles. A great help for headache sufferers, too.

Lovely Lavender

Lavender is best known for its calming, relaxing effects. That's why folk medicine recommends it for healing nervous disorders. "Lavender" comes from the Latin lavare, which means "to wash." The Romans prized lavender for its intense aroma and used it in cosmetics and in their famous baths.

I am not much of a gardener, at least half of the plants I buy don't survive the season. Therefore I can confidently state that lavender is a hardy plant. My son's birthday gift to me in 1996 was an entire flat of lavender seedlings. Since lavender is one of the most beautiful (IMO) scents, and one of my favorites, I was tickled pink (or should I say purple?) I planted them as a hedge along our property line and have enjoyed both their beauty and their bounty ever since. I harvest the flower spikes just before the blossoms open, and usually get 3-5 harvests per season. This provides me with an abundant supply all through the year. As I am a 'lazy' gardener, this plant suits my skills well, requiring little in the way of care.

Lavender is a member of the mint family and grows in the form of dense bushes 2-3 feet in height. A perennial shrub, lavender has spear-shaped, silver-gray leaves that have smooth edges and grow opposite one another on the stems. Its flowers and leaves are covered with numerous oil glands. The plant has a slightly bitter taste (great in salads, for a little "bite") but it has a strong, pleasantly fragrant aroma. England's Queen Elizabeth I was partial to lavender. It is said that she drank as many as 10 cups of lavender tea a day to relieve migraines; she also doused her body with lavender perfume.

Although now cultivated primarily in Provence in the south of France, lavender grows in the wild on dry, rocky hills of the western Mediterranean and in Greece. While the herb usually thrives in sunny, warm, temperate regions, it actually grows in the coldest regions of the U.S. The flowers, harvested as buds, and their essential oil are both used medicinally.

The essential oil contained in lavender flowers has a calming effect. It is comprised primarily of linalyl acetate and linalool. The flowers also contain tannins, coumarins and flavonoids. It is a powerful antiseptic containing more than 200 compounds that are active against fungi, viruses and other microbes.

Taken internally, lavender is a mild sedative. It counteracts feelings of restlessness and dizziness, and it brings welcome relief to those suffering from headaches and migraines. It also eases stomach discomfort and symptoms of nervous intestinal disorders, such as flatulence and bloating. Applied externally, lavender soothes sore muscles and reduces swelling, so it's beneficial for bruises and sprains. The most famous healing use for lavender blossoms is perhaps in the bath, where they have long proved relaxing, tension melting and sleep inducing. It also helps alleviate depression. On sleepless nights, place a lavender sachet under your pillow to induce drowsiness. Brewed into a tea, the flowers also impart sedative as well as antispasmodic properties, relieving headaches, coughs and nervous indigestion. Topically, the diluted essential oil relieves aching muscles and, with its antibacterial effects, cleanses, soothes and heals cuts, stings and burns. Cosmetic uses abound, and savvy cooks add blossoms to cakes, fruit salads, puddings and confections.

The best known active components in lavender are geraniol, cineole and coumarin. These ingredients have a strong cleansing and germicidal effect and are believed to be particularly valuable for the treatment of inflammatory conditions and pain. Lavender also brings swift relief from digestive problems and various skin irritations.

Medicinal Uses

For the breasts: Lavender oil can be rubbed onto the breasts to help tone and tighten the skin. Add 2 drops of the oil to 3 tbsp. of a base oil, such as sweet almond; apply to breasts daily.

For skin irritations: Lavender water promotes good circulation in the skin and prevents infections of the sebaceous glands. For a facial lotion, add 3 drops of lavender oil to 1 quart of distilled water; dab on daily.

For insomnia: Lavender oil has a calming effect and can be used to induce sleep when you're feeling stressed or anxious. Put a few drops of lavender oil on an aromatherapy stone (available in most herbal stores) and place it in your bedroom, or have a cup of lavender tea half an hour or so before retiring for the night. Its soothing effects will help you sleep soundly through the night.

For nerve pain: Lavender oil helps to relieve pain and inflammation due to neuralgia. Mix 10 drops of the oil with 2 tbsp. of St. John's-wort oil and gently rub into the affected areas for pain relief.

For sunburn relief: Add 10 drops of lavender oil to 4 oz. of water. Store the liquid in a plastic spray bottle and take it with you to the beach to spritz on sunburned skin as needed.

For first degree burns: Lavender oil is one of the few essential oils that is safe to use "neat", or undiluted, on the skin. Keep a small bottle in your kitchen cabinet to treat first-degree burns. One to two drops directly on the burn will relieve pain and reduce the risk of blisters.

For middle-ear infections: Saturate a cotton ball in olive oil, drip 5 drops of lavender oil onto it and place it on the outer part of the affected ear. The lavender oil will help relieve the pain and inhibit the inflammation that often accompany ear infections.

Cramping or colic: Lavender essential oil can be used externally to alleviate stomachaches, cramping or colic. Combine 30 drops of lavender oil, 10 drops of chamomile oil and 3½ oz. of cold-pressed olive oil in a bottle and shake vigorously. Massage this blend gently onto the abdomen for 10 min., using broad circular movements. Rest for a brief period, and then apply a hot-water bottle to the affected area for 30 min.

Around the House

  • Add several drops of lavender oil to the washer's final rinse cycle, or scent a cloth with a few drops of lavender oil and throw it in the dryer to freshen a load of newly laundered clothes.
  • Place a handful of lavender buds in an old sock, knot it and store it in a drawer with your linens.
  • To purify indoor air:
  • 4 drops lavender oil
    2 drops bergamot oil
    2 drops lemon oil
    Place this mixture of essential oils in a simmer pot to help freshen the air. The oils have a powerful cleansing action. The fresh scent also exerts an uplifting effect on the mind, body and spirit. Lavender combines particularly well with citrus oils.

    Methods of Administration:

    Tea Infusion: Pour 1 cup boiling water over ½ tsp. lavender flowers. Cover and steep. Strain after 5-10 min.

    Lavender Oil: For muscle cramps and rheumatic symptoms, combine 15 drops of lavender oil with 1 oz. of vegetable oil; rub into the affected parts. If you suffer from bad headaches and migraines, massage 1 drop of oil into your temples. Or mix 5 drops of oil in 1-2 cups hot or cold water. Dip a washcloth into water, wring it out; then place it on the back of the neck for 2-10 min. For fast relief from a headache, you can also just breathe in the scent of lavender blossoms. I keep a bundle of lavender in every room of the house as well as in my car. I suffer from sinus headaches due to an air-born mold allergy, and this works immediately.

    In a bath: For poor circulation and low blood pressure: Bring 1 tbsp. of flowers to a boil in 1 pt. of water. Strain after 10 min. and add to bathwater. Or, simply add 5 drops of oil directly into the bathwater, you can also use an emulsifier to help the oil blend well with the bathwater. Mix 5 drops of lavender oil with 1 cup of heavy cream or 1 tsp. of honey and add it to the tub.

    Plant Care

    Plant lavender in well-drained soil - the shrub will not tolerate water buildup. Loosen the soil regularly, and keep it free of weeds. To ensure abundant growth, add compost in early spring. If temperatures in your area routinely drop below freezing, cover more tender lavender varieties with spruce bundles or leaves in the fall, removing the covering in early spring. Lavender's aroma is loved by bees. When planted in vegetable gardens and orchards, the shrub enhances pollination.

    Harvesting and processing

    To harvest and dry flowers, cut off stalk tips just before full blooming, preferably at midday, when the oil content is highest. Tie them into bundles and hang them upside down in a shaded, well-ventilated place to dry. When dried, separate flowers from leaves. Leaves are used dried for seasoning. Keep dried leaves and flowers in separate airtight containers. The essential oil is extracted using steam distillation.

    Guide to Cultivation

    Lavender plants are readily available and grow equally well in the garden and in containers, as long as they have full sun. They can winter in pots placed in a warm window with at least 8 hours of sunlight. You can also grow lavender from seed. There are many varieties; for sprouting from seed, try the early-blooming "Munstead" or "Lady" varieties. Plant seed when they are freshly purchased.

    Seeding and planting

    • Generously sow the seeds in a tray with potting soil. Cover them with a thin layer of soil, and pat down lightly. Keep the soil moist and at about 68°F. Seeds will sprout in 2-3 weeks.
    • Keep the seedlings in direct light for the most rapid growth.
    • When seedlings grow to be 1-2 in. tall, transfer them to small pots filled with well-drained, sterile potting soil.
    • In late May to early June, (I planted mine in early August, and still had a harvest that year, so don't worry!) plant the seedlings in larger pots, window boxes or the garden. Individual plants should be planted 12-16 in. apart.


    Propagation
    In either spring or fall, cut 3-in.-long tender shoots below leaf bunches. Strip the lower two-thirds of leaves from each cutting. Place the cuttings, far enough apart so they are not touching, in a pot of moist vermiculite or sand-peat mixture. Keep moist and out of direct light. You know roots have sprouted when new top growth appears or when shoots resist gentle tugging. Plant in well-drained soil in the garden or pots.

    Magickal Information

    Folk Names: Elf Leaf, Nard, Nardus, Spike
    Gender: Masculine
    Planet: Mercury
    Element: Air
    Power: Love, Protection, Sleep, Chastity, Longevity, Purification, Happiness, Peace

    Magickal Uses

  • Lavender has long been used in love spells and sachets. Clothing rubbed with the fragrant flowers (or lavender placed in drawers with clothes) attracts love. A piece of paper on which you've rubbed lavender is excellent for writing love notes. The scent of lavender particularly attracts men, and lavender water or the essential oil was worn by prostitutes several centuries ago to both advertise their profession as well as to attract (through magick) customers. Lavender also protects against cruel treatment at the hands of a spouse if worn.
  • These flowers are also burned or smoldered to induce sleep and rest, and are scattered around the home to maintain its peacefulness. The plant is so powerful that, if when depressed, one gazes upon the plant all sorrow will depart and a joyous feeling will settle upon the observer.
  • Indeed, the odor of lavender is conducive to long life, and so should be smelled as often as possible if this is a concern.
  • Lavender is also used in healing mixtures, carried to see ghosts, and worn to protect against the evil eye. It is added to purification baths.
  • Despite lavender's love associations, in the Renaissance it was believed that lavender together with rosemary, if worn, would preserve a woman's chastity.
  • A wish divination: Place lavender under your pillow while thinking of your wish. Do this just prior to retiring for the night. In the morning, if you have dreamt of anything relating to your wish, it will come true. However, if you did not dream, or if they were unconnected with your wish, it will not manifest.

    Natural Health & Hygiene Articles

    Other articles in my Natural Health & Hygiene series:
    Bountiful Basil
    Basil Essential Oil
    Rejuvenating Rosemary

    Disclaimer

    This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for modern medical care. Do not self-treat any medical complaint without the guidance of a licensed health care provider.

    Sources

    This article was previously published at Suite101.com and at Themestream.com

    Confidentiality Statement: (for anyone who does not respect copyright and/or is confused regarding this issue) The information, data and schematics embodied in the document are confidential and proprietary, being exclusively owned by Ellen J. Lord (aka Purpleflame or Firefly). This document is being supplied on understanding that it and its contents shall not be used, reproduced, or disclosed to others except as specifically permitted with the prior written consent of Ellen J. Lord. The recipient of this document, by its retention and use, agrees to protect the same from loss, theft, or unauthorized use.
    Sources:
    All information provided in this article is the result of research using (but not limited to) the following books and guides: Herbs for Health and Healing, Rodale; Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham; Magical Herbalism, Scott Cunningham; The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, International Masters Publishers; Earthway, Mary Summer Rain; Teach Yourself Herbs, Susie White; Natural Beauty from the Garden, Janice Cox; Nature's Prescriptions, Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, and The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies, Joe Graedon and Theresa Graedon, Ph.D

    Tags

    Farmacy, Headache, Herbal Medicine, Herbalist, Herbs That Heal, Lavender Calm, Nervous Disorders, Tension

    Meet the author

    author avatar Ellen Lord
    Interested in herbs and their many uses. I believe that food is medicine. In my politics and religion, I am on the left of center.

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    Comments

    author avatar Ellen Lord
    27th Apr 2015 (#)

    Thank you Mark for the quick moderation and star merit, greatly appreciated ~ Ellen

    Reply to this comment

    author avatar Mariah
    27th Apr 2015 (#)

    I've used lavender oil in the bath for years Ellen, great properties in this, I enjoyed reading all the information here, very useful, thanks for the share and a very warm welcome to wikinut too

    Reply to this comment

    author avatar Ellen Lord
    28th Apr 2015 (#)

    Thanks for the welcome, Mariah. I'm glad you enjoyed the article

    Reply to this comment

    author avatar snerfu
    28th Apr 2015 (#)

    Lovely article about lavender and its varied uses. Though I have never tried it myself, I could get the lovely smell from the perfumes mother used. But that was long ago. Nice article again.

    Reply to this comment

    author avatar Ellen Lord
    28th Apr 2015 (#)

    TY snerfu.

    Reply to this comment

    author avatar brendamarie
    28th May 2015 (#)

    Great article. I use lavender for many different things

    Reply to this comment

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