Lavender is a popular scent for lotions, perfumes, soaps and aromatherapy treatments. Aside from its cosmetic uses, however, lavender enjoys a rich history in natural cures and home remedies for a variety of different ailments and disorders.
Lavendula, Lavendula vera
Other commonly used names for lavender are:
- English lavender
- True lavender
- Grande lavender
- Broad-leaf lavender
Native to dry southern European and north African climates, it grows perennially as a bush that generally reaches two to two and a half feet in height, although some will reach as much as six feet tall. Lavender bushes consist of upright stems, which produce tiny gray leaves. Above the leaves small, slender stems sprout and produce lilac or blue-violet flowers and brown and white spotted seeds. Some varieties of lavender also produce pink or white flowers.
Typical Lavender Preparations
Lavender flowers are commonly dried and used in sachet packets either alone or in combination with other scented flowers and herbs. Lavender oil extracted from the plant is also commonly sold alone or used to scent a variety of perfumes, bath and skincare products.
It can also be prepared as an ointment, a tincture, a tea or added as an ingredient to baked goods. When using it as a tea, it is recommended that water not be prepared to the point of boiling, but that it is heated to a simmer before lavender is added.
Common Uses of Lavender
Besides being commonly used for its pleasant aromatic scent, it is popular as a condiment that is often also used in salads and salad dressings.
When used as an ointment, it is helpful in relieving pain, especially in the relief of pain associated with skin burns.
As an essential oil, it is often used as a natural underarm skin deodorant and as a natural insect repellent.
It is also widely used to treat anxiety, nervous stomach, insomnia, colic, flatulence, menopause and headaches. In Spain, it is used as a tea for the treatment of diabetes.
It has an anti-depressant and anti-septic effect, which renders it helpful in the treatment of the following:
- Mood disturbances
- Cold sores
- Fungal infections
- Skin inflammation
- Tissue degeneration (especially resulting from acne, eczema or psoriasis)
- Insect bites
- Skin irritations
Because of its strong antioxidant properties, it is also popular in rejuvenating and toning aging skin and counteracting the aging process, in general.
It is not known to cause serious side effects. However, it is not recommended for oral use by children. Also, those with allergic reactions to lavender should discontinue its use immediately.
A gentle, but powerful herb, lavender has remained popular for centuries because of its effective use in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments, as well as for its relaxation and soothing of the senses.