Lavender, or Lavendula augustifolia, is one of my favorite herbs of all time.
It comes from the Latin word, meaning “to wash” and has enjoyed a reputation of being an important ingredient in bathing rituals in ancient Rome. Modern day uses include it being used in luxurious bath and body ingredients, or taking advantage of it’s comforting and soothing properties. It can be used for restlessness, insomnia, and tummy issues. Since there are no known contraindications, no known interactions and no known side effects, it is safe enough for anyone, including children.
Lavender can be used in both the herb and essential oil form.
The herb usually includes the fresh or dried flower and bud and the essential oil is very easy to find at an affordable price just about anywhere. The essential oil is one of very few oils that you can safely put on your skin “neat” or without a carrier with minimal risk of sensitization or burning the skin. It is steam distilled and has a very thin, clear appearance to it. The oil can also be used in a culinary applications, such as cookies, brownies or cakes. And, with over 30 types of lavender on the market, lavender oil not only blends well with many other oils, it’s also highly valued in perfumery.
Lavender has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to it, making it a “must have” in your home first aid kit.
As a matter of fact, it was discovered to be a great help against burned skin when French cosmetic chemist, Rene-Maruice Gattefosse burned his arm. The pain caused him to put his arm in the nearest cool liquid, which happened to be a tub of lavender oil. The pain subsided quickly, and left no scarring. The rest of his life was spent exploring the medicinal benefits of this precious oil as well as others. It was he who first coined the phrase “aromatherapie” in 1928.
It is great for damaged or inflamed skin
and can help hydrate and protect mature skin, as well as helping skin retain moisture, making it great for homemade lotions, soaps and shampoos. It has a sweet, flowery flavor, making the dried herb a great addition to tea blends.
Here are some of my favorite recipes using lavender:
1 part dried calendula
2 parts dried lavender
4 parts dried chamomile
3 parts dried lemon peel
1 part dried rosehips
Add the dried herb to a jar, shake gently to mix. o use, add 1-2T per quart of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes, covered. Strain the herbs and sweeten to taste. We love bringing this along when we go camping as well.
Growing your own lavender is fairly easy as well.
It just needs dirt, water, and full sun. I have found that one or two plants in a large container will provide plenty of flowering buds to dry for my family’s use over the winter. The plants spread out and will multiply rapidly.