This English garden herb is highly regarded for its classic fragrance in soap and potpourris, but lavender is also an important medicinal herb.
Originally, the oil from the flower was used to protect cloths and stored linens from moths. It was, and still is, popular as a scent in air fresheners.
Lavender as an Herb for Medicinal Use
Lavender oil distilled from the flower has applications as an antibacterial, stimulant, tonic, headache reliever, and for relief of intestinal gas. It is also used to quiet coughs and disinfect wounds. To help ease a tension headache, massage 1 or 2 drops of lavender onto the neck or temples.
Lavender has been used in the treatment of stress related symptoms to restore balance of the nervous system. A mixture combining 6 drops lavender oil and 6 drops cypress oil in 4 ounces carrier oil such as sweet almond or olive oil applied to the belly and massaged in was utilized.
Lavender oil diluted in baby oil has been used for the pain of herpes minor and may be useful against pain of Herpes zoster (shingles).
Applied as a compress, lavender oil provides relief from neuralgic pains, rheumatism, sprains, and sore joints. Also for treating headaches and giddiness an infusion of fresh lavender as a cold compress is applied to the forehead and temples.
Lavender essential oil is used in sauna's, massages, facials, baths, masks and body wraps. The essential oil of Lavender is known as 'universal oil' due to its myriad of applications.
Lavender is also popular for its use in aromatherapy. It is added to the bath for fragrance and to stimulate (some also use it in a foot bath). Lavender is used in facials to stimulate the skin and cleanse it with its astringent action.
Lavender tea is specifically formulated to help you calm your mind and body. It is also used as a facial cleanser or for blemishes and lavender oil is used for oily skin, acne, eczema and scars.
Lavender is used extensively in manufacturing perfume. An old herbal recipe is as follows: "Mix 25 drops of French Lavender, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Geranium to 1 ounce of good quality vodka. Let age 2 weeks before using. Apply as a spray on neck, wrists, behind knees or ears."
Bring lavender and chamomile with you on planes to help calm little travelers that may feel cooped up. Place on their wrists or a tissue and inhale.
Lavender Bath Salts: Equal amounts of lavender and epsom salts with a few drops of lavender oil worked into the mix.
Suggested Uses for Lavender Oil
Place one drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow to promote a deep and restful sleep, or rub a drop or two on the bottoms of your feet to promote relaxation and help boost the immune system.
If you inhale the oil straight from the bottle when nervous, anxious or under stress, the oil will help to calm. Spray lavender essential oil in the air or on linens to help purify and refreshen. Topical use of diluted lavender oil or use of lavender as aromatherapy is generally considered safe for most adults.
After Bath Lavender Oil: 1-1/4 cup almond oil in glass jar; add lavender spikes (as many as possible); place in warm place 24 hours; repeat if necessary to ensure optimum fragrance; add Vitamin E, Tincture of Benzoin, or grapeseed extract to preserve.
Lavender Hair Fragrance
A Lavender water is concocted by steeping over the period of one month 25 grams of lavender flowers in one litre (quart) of Eau de Vie (Brandy). Filter. This mix is as appreciated by men as by women, not only as a hair perfume but also as a body tonic and folk remedy for rheumatism. This lavender water has a long shelf life, making it ideal for home or travel use. This same process is successful using roses, jasmine, violets, lemon grass or any herb or flower whose perfume you appreciate.
This special formulation of lavender oil has been found to inhibit neurons that send signals to the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in anxiety. Lavela is fast becoming a favorite herbal remediy for sleep and anxiety. Some people have even been able to get off of long-term benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanax) using it. Recommended does is 80mg before bedtime. Suggested product: Integrative Therapeutics Lavela.
When Victorian ladies wrote to friends, they often used scented ink, and lavender was a favorite. Experiment with various strongly scented herbs. Try this easy recipe.
1/4 cup lavender blossoms
1 bottle ink
1/3 cup water
Crush herbs and place with water in a non reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, watching to be sure that the water does not completely boil away. The scent is ready when the liquid is brown. Strain, discard the leaves. Add 4 teaspoons to a bottle of ink.
Culinary Uses of Lavender
Lavender flower buds and leaves are used in flavored vinegars and jellies. A component of 'Herbes de Provence'.
Lavender flowers are used in teas, desserts and candied. Bitter leaves and tips used in salads, soups, vinegars, jellies and wine.
Lavendar Tea: 1 pint of water just off the boil added to 1/2 ounce of young leaves or dried buds. Steep four minutes, or longer as desired.
Lavender is a component of Herbes de Provence and Lady Grey Tea.
Lavender Water: Put 2 pounds lavender buds in 2 quarts of water in a cold still and make a slow fire under it. Distill it off very slowly into a pot until you have distilled all your water. Clean still out well and put your lavender water into it and distill it off slowly. Put into bottles and cork well. (Taken from the "New Art of Cookery" - Richard Briggs 1788)
Lavender Herbal Tea
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
1 teaspoon dried chamomile flowers
1 teaspoon green tea leaves
4 cups boiling water
Place the herbs in a warmed teapot. Pour in boiling water, cover, and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and serve, sweeten with honey if desired.
Varation: Lavender Tea
Use 4 teaspoons of fresh Lavender or 1 tablespoon dried. Place in a mug and pour 1/4 cup of boiling water over the Lavender. Use a saucer as a lid and steep 5 minutes. Strain and pour. Can
Honey Lavender Butter
This butter is wonderful on scones, toast, muffins, or coffeecakes.
1 stick softened butter
4 teaspoons dried lavender (pulsed or chopped)
4 teaspoons honey
Mix together and enjoy!
Lavender Herb Butter
This herb butter is good for toasted cheese sandwiches, vegetables, boiled potatoes, or noodles.
1 stick softened butter
1 teaspoon dried chives
2 teaspoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Lavender Garlic Butter
This is very nice to make garlic bread. Take hotdog buns, butter them and bake them until they are crispy and golden. Times and temps vary according to what you have in your oven at the time. about 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes.
1 stick softened butter
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds that have been pulsed in a coffee grinder or food processor
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix all together. Spread over buns or rolls.
Lavender Kitchen Tip
Store a jar of chopped lavender in a dark jar. This saves time. The easiest way is to put some in a coffee grinder and pulse. A food processor will also work. A mortar and pestle is another option, but is more time consuming.
Fight Pesky Flies
To help keep flies away: Mix 25 drops of peppermint or lavender oil with 16 ounces purified water in large spray bottle. Can be used on counter tops, windows and doors. Shake well before each use.
Lavender is used widely in love spells and sachets. Burn the flowers to induce sleep. Lavender is also used in healing and purification.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Tannins in this herb may lead to liver damage.
- Lavender oil is poisonous if taken by mouth.
- When lavender teas and extracts are taken by mouth, they may cause headache, changes in appetite, and constipation.
- Using lavender with sedative medications may increase drowsiness.
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