Since I was a little girl, I've always liked lavender and these days I love it even more!
It is easy to grow, has beautiful purple flowers and a soothing and sweet aroma. On top of all this, it has many medicinal uses and is an excellent ingredient in natural cosmetics.
So, what can it be used for?
Promote sleep and relaxation:
From bath salts to herbal pillows and aromatherapy massage, lavender has been used throughout history to promote relaxation and sleep. In fact, the Greeks and the Romans were so fond of lavender in their baths that the name derived from the Latin word "lavare", which means to wash. This ancient knowledge has recently been supported by several studies in both animals and humans that suggest it may be effective as an anti-anxiety, mood stabilizing, sedative, analgesic and anti-convulsant agent.
Stress reliever and mood enhancer:
In one trial, the anti-anxiety effect of lavender (taken orally) has been shown to be superior to a placebo in 221 patients suffering from anxiety disorder. It also improved associated symptoms such as restlessness, sleep disturbances, and somatic complaints. While other studies have shown that lavender scent reduces anxiety in dental patients and reduces, depression and anxiety in post-partum women at high risk (after four weeks with lavender aromatherapy).
Lavender is also known to be a powerful analgesic, with lavender aromatherapy used to reduce post-operative pain (for example in cases of cesarean and breast biopsy pain), post-partum perineal pain and migraines
Wound healing and antiseptic:
Traditionally oil and lavender creams have been used for the treatment of small cuts and scrapes, while recent studies suggest that lavender has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and healing properties. In fact, in a study in laboratory rats at Celal Bayar University in Turkey, lavender oil was faster in healing wounds than iodine and saline.
Lavender is also used to promote hair growth and the treatment of alopecia areata, a condition in which hair is lost in some or all areas of the body.
How do you use it?
You could use lavender in many different ways! Here are some of my favorites:
A relaxing infusion before going to bed or to balance emotions: Simply prepare a hot tea with the flowers to drink before bed . Lavender is strong and very bitter on its own so it's best to mix it with other relaxing herbs. Chamomile, lemonbalm and gotu kola are all good choices.
For hair growth there are several options. You could a simple hair rinse by preparing a strong tea with lavender and other herbs for hair and scalp. Some of my favourites are horsetail, calendula, peppermint, burdock root, rosemary, peppermint and nettles. Then once you've shampooed (or not!) you can simply use it to rinse out your hair.
Alternatively you can prepare a vinegar-based hair rinse with the same herbs and apple cider vinegar. Simple leave the herbs in the vinegar in a dark place for several weeks before straining and bottling. This vinegar is best used diluted with water.
Another option is to choose a hair product with lavender such as a shampoo bar with lavender essential oil (not fragrance!) or a hair treatment. I like to do a scalp massage every once in a while with our skin and hair butter, Citricoco. But you could also prepare an oil at home with the dried herb or an essential oil diluted in oil.
A massage before sleep: In our family we have a little before-bed ritual where we massage eachother's face and feet with our Cloud Nine Dream Cream. While lavender pillows and eye masks are all nice traditional options!
A relaxing bath: Simply add a few drops of essential oil to the bath for a soothing bath for your children or yourself!
For stress, pain or tension that accumulate in the head I like to massage my temple and neck with our Headspace Calm Balm. I carry it with me in my handbag and use it whenever I need ! Also remember to take a minute to relax and think about your own well-being!
Lavender is a beautiful plant with many healing properties and a delicious aroma! If you have it in your garden, you could harvest it to make your own teas and even natural skincare.