Lifestyle

Everything you need to know about lavender

Lavender (scientific name lavanda augustifolia or lavandula officinalis) has a long and fascinating history. It originally grew only in southern Europe and the Mediterranean, tropical areas of Africa, southern India and the Iraqi area today. Nowadays, it spreads across Europe to England and Russia, Australia and America, being widely cultivated due to its outstanding therapeutic properties. The biggest lavender producers are France, Bulgaria, Croatia and Russia.

History

It is believed that the name of lavender originates in Latin “lavare” which means “to wash” because the Romans often added it to water used for bathing.

It is one of the oldest herbs, being used since antiquity. Phoenicians and Egyptians were the first to extract oil from it, and they used it in the mummification process. The first Arabs cultivated it for its expectorant and antiseptic effect. From Arabia, lavender is taken up by Greeks and Romans who were using it in the treatment and prevention of a wide range of affections.

lavender fieldsArriving in Spain, France, Italy and England, it is used for the stomach, and the nervous system, and skin care. The crushed plant was used as an odorant and disinfectant. Once dried, it could be used as a moth and scorpion repellent.

Discorides, in his famous work “Medicine,” recommend lavender for chest pain, headache, indigestion and sore throats if taken internally, and for wounds, burns and skin care if used externally. Much later, in the 13th century, doctors used essential lavender oil to treat headaches, memory loss, fainting, and female infertility. Besides the long therapeutic history, lavender is also a herb surrounded by legend. For example, in some areas it is said that it was brought from Heaven by Adam and Eve for its beautiful flowers, and in others its extraordinary smell arose after the Virgin Mary had dried up the lavish bush of the little Jesus. Before this incident, it was just a smell free weed.

Lavender has been used as the “witch grass” for a long time being attributed to its ability to protect from the evil eye, evil spirits and ghosts. In the esoteric texts of the Middle Ages, it was said that lavender is under the influence of Jupiter while the followers of the Wicca religion place it under the influence of Mercury, Saturn and the Virgin’s sign.

In modern rituals, lavender is associated with fertility, love, health and long life, happiness, chastity, clairvoyance, longevity, healing and balance. In some areas, it is still believed that lavender has the ability to show you the identity of your true love.

Lavender promotes happiness and harmony, invoking good health, offering peace, ensuring fidelity and dedication in marriage, and offering psychic protection. It is used for protecting children against curses and the evil eye. It is said to have the ability to stimulate the conscious mind and to stabilize you both in the emotional and the etheric plane. It is also said, by some practitioners, that lavender cleans environmental energies and neutralizes disharmonic frequencies, which is why it is often used in rituals for purification.

Therapeutic Remedies

The appetite for alternative medicine is growing more and more among those searching for rescue from pollution, modern remedies, although ensuring our comfort, and from drugs that abound in chemicals but saves lives, and from professional stress, inherent in successful careers. Country life and organic food are accompanied by a focus on plant extracts that up to a point rivals drugs.

One of the stars in a galaxy of plants with recognized therapeutic virtues is lavender. Those who are familiar to it and use it fall into a relaxing reverie with the thought of the purple fields in southern France, Provence. And if we could teleport, that would certainly be the destination after a stressful day of work. I am confident that although my soul plant is Aloe Vera, I gave little to no thought about researching this article when I learned that the benefits of lavender have been discovered centuries ago and that there are 40 types of Lavandula family useful in combating insomnia (slowing down nerve impulses and stress relieving), headache and abdominal discomfort.

The beginning of the 20th century is the turning point for the success of lavender in the field of natural remedies: a chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse was the one who healed a burn after a laboratory accident, by using lavender. And later, during the First World War, the French surgeon, Jean Valnet, had to find solutions to an acute shortage of drugs, and resorted to lavender in the treatment of burns and for calming pains.

Lavender beauty benefits

lavender beautiful girlI’ve already taken the first step towards upgrading the indispensable remedy kit by buying a lavender bouquet from the street. Its smell decreases cortisol secretion, stress generating hormone, responsible for inflammation in the body and implicitly for premature aging. And more, it seems to stimulate the activity of antioxidants, youthful substances, and also libido. More so, here’s a bit of advice for the amateurs prolonged exposures to the sun –  applying lavender oil helps alleviate the effects of UVA and UVB bombardment.

The secret weapon is called linalool, if you want to get technical, which can restore the normal level of important components of the immune system. The list of benefits does not stop here because specialists recommend essential lavender oil for migraines, depression, anxiety, eczema, acne, hair loss, muscle aches, hypertension, mycoses, insect attacks, etc.

In the “Green Pharmacy” treaty, James A. Duke invokes the benefits of lavender as an adjunct to the treatment of vaginitis by adding a few drops of essential oil to bath water only during medication therapy. However, specialist advice is vital when natural therapies go beyond the limit of prevention and induction of a well-being of the body.

True or false?

We’ve praised it enough, so let’s  also hear the voices of dissent in the medical community, that have been skeptical about the real effects of lavender oil. For example, Ohio University researchers say they have failed to find concrete improvements and medical evidence on the effect of lavender on the 56 volunteers of a study, despite the fact that many people say they feel good when they smell the unmistakable flavor.

A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that repeated application of lavender and tea tree oils could be associated with abnormal breast development in boys, gynecomastia. But American specialists stated that further research is needed to see if these oils have similar effects to female estrogen.

How do you recognize it?

Lavender is a branched, woody and very fragrant bush that can reach a height of up to 80 cm. The lignified root, thick, with a rich root system, gives the plant drought resistance. Leaves are linear and lanceolate, gray-green and purple flowers are gathered in frequent spice. Blooms in June-July.

Active substances

Dried Lavender flowers contain 1.5-3% essential oil, and fresh ones 0.5-1%. The essential oil consists of 25-55% linalyl acetate, 20-38% linalol, 4-10% cis-beta-ocimene, 2-6% trans-beta-ocimene, 2-6% ol, 0.2-0.5% camphor, 0.2-0.8% alpha-terpineol and 0.1-0.5% limonene. The tannin content is quite high (5-10%). They also contain coumarins, flavonoids, borneol, a bitter substance, mineral salts.

Therapeutic properties

  • Active substances give the plant antiseptic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, carminative, healing, digestive, tonifying properties.
  • Lavender can help you fight insects. Mix only a few drops of lavender oil with sunflower oil. Then massage your skin with this mixture.
  • Do you have moth problems? Are you tired of the smell of naphthalene? Try the dry lavender flower bags.
  • Runny nose? Lavender can help. Add 5 drops of lavender oil to a hot water pot and inhale the steam.
  • Did you get burned while preparing dinner? Instead of massaging the affected area with oil or running cold water, apply a few drops of lavender oil on the burn.
  • Have you heard that vinegar is best in curing sunburn? Maybe it is. But who wants to smell of vinegar all day? If the burns are not very serious, mix a few drops of lavender oil with mineral water and sprinkle the affected area.
  • Have you not had a quiet and restful sleep for a while? Put a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow.
  • On the labels of some of the most popular lotions and creams you will find lavender as an ingredient. Add a few drops of lavender oil to your lotion or face cream.
  • Lavender oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. If your head hurts and you do not want or cannot take pills, try to rub your temples with a few drops of lavender oil.

Therapeutic uses

lavender oilLavender can be used both internally and externally.

Internally it is useful for: hypertension, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, viral pneumonia, cold, flu, gout, hepatitis, acute or cortical cholecystitis, cystitis, skin, metrorrhagia, insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, depression, dermatitis, dermatosis , staphylococcal and streptococcal infections, seborrhoeic dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, erythema, allergic diseases, headache, migraine, neurovegetative dystonia, amigdalitis, rhinitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, rheumatic inflammatory diseases, vermifuge.

Externally it is used for: various skin diseases, abscesses, bronchitis, contusions, burns, gums, cellulitis, colds / flu, dandruff, debility, depression, headache, insect bites, insomnia, psoriasis, rheumatism, sinus congestion, wounds, spasmodic cough, stress, sunburn.

How to use lavender

  1. Infusion prepared from a teaspoon of dried and unbroken flowers in 250 ml of boiled water, left infused for 30 minutes, administer 2-3 times a day in case of:
  • hypertension;
  • bronchitis, bronchial asthma, viral pneumonia;
  • cold, flu;
  • hepatitis, acute or cortical cholecystitis;
  • cystitis, skin;
  • insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, depression;
  • dermatitis, dermatoses, staphylococcal and streptococcal infections, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, erythema;
  • allergic disorders;
  • headaches, migraines, neuro-vegetative dystones;
  • tonsils, rhinitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis;
  • inflammatory diseases of the rheumatic type
  1. The tincture made from 10 grams of dried lavender flowers to be macerated in 100 ml of alcohol for 10 days. Filter through gauze and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 years.

It is used in case of:

  • diseases of the respiratory system, neurological diseases: 30 drops, 3 times a day, added to a cup of lime tea.
  • diseases of the digestive system: 30 drops, 3 times a day, added to a cup of marigold tea.
  • mouth disease, gingivitis – 30 drops, 3 times a day, internally or externally, in the form of gargle, added in a cup of chamomile tea or sage.
  • anemia (lack of appetite): 30 drops, 3 times a day, added to a cup of wormwood or chicory after a meal.
  • diseases of the uro-genital apparatus 30 drops, 3 times a day, added to a cup of marigold tea.
  • diseases of the central nervous system: 30 drops, 3 times a day, added to a cup of lime tea.
  • skin diseases and allergies: 30 drops, 3 times a day, added to a three-breasted tea cup.
  • in intestinal parasitoses, like vermifug- 30 drops of tincture are used, 3 times a day, added to a cup of crush tea.
  1. Therapeutic oil is prepared from 10 grams of dried lavender flowers that are boiled together with 100 ml of sunflower oil for a few minutes on a steam bath, left to rest for 2 days and then filtered and stored in bottles.

It is used externally, especially in dermatological diseases, but also for skin care where it is applied once a week, in the evening, before bedtime, on the clean face and leave for 20 minutes. Remove with warm water, then grease the face with the cream you normally use.

  1. Therapeutic wine obtained from 20 grams of dried lavender flowers macerated in one liter of white wine for 10 days, taking care to shake the pot 2-3 times a day. After the maceration period, the wine is filtered and left to decant for 6 days, then separate the clear part of the residue and fill with white wine until it reaches 1 liter. It can be used for one year.

Take 3 tablespoons twice daily after meal in case of:

  • hypertension;
  • gastritis, stomach ulcer, colic, meteorism, flatulence, bloating and spastic states of the digestive system, diarrhea;
  • afters, gingivitis
  • cystitis, skin, metroragii;
  • insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, depression;
  • dermatitis, dermatoses, staphylococcal and streptococcal infections, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, erythema;
  • headaches, migraines, neurovegetative dystonia;
  1. Lavender volatile oil: it’s hard to get into the house because it requires a special water vapor extraction device, but it’s found in pharmacies and in herbal stores.

It is useful in case of:

  • skin disorders of various causes, if mixed with alcoholic solutions or creams. It has the advantage of both the cause (having antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimycotic) and the effect of the disease (such as pruritus).
  • cold, flu and rheumatic diseases – in which case lavender oil is frictionated.
  • respiratory diseases – inhalations made with 5 drops of volatile oil
  • therapeutic baths – add 20 drops of lavender volatile oil to your bath and you’ll have a very refreshing bath;
  1. Lotion obtained from a spoon of lavender flowers left to macerate for 10 days in 50 ml of alcohol. After maceration, squeeze through gauze and add clear water, boiled and cooled, until the initial amount doubles. It is used in the evening (after washing) and in the morning (before applying the day cream).
  2. Dried lavender flower bags help you sleep better if you put them under the pillow or get rid of moths if you choose to put them in your clothes closet.

Harvesting and preservation

Lavender flowers are harvested in June-July, when about half of them are buds. It is advisable that the flowers be picked in the first half of the day when flowers contain the largest amount of essential oils.

Drying is done in the shade, flowers being arranged in thin layer, on wooden frames, sheets of paper or mats, in a well-ventilated space. The maximum temperature at which flowers can be exposed to maintain the optimal concentration of substances is 95F.

The drying yield is low, 7: 1, ie 100 g of fresh flowers yields about 15 g of dried flowers.

After drying, it is packed in gauze bags or paper bags.

Precautions and contraindications

Lavender is generally considered non-toxic and non-irritating if administered in normal doses. However, it can cause dermatitis especially if the product has a high degree of oxidation. So proper preservation and storage of lavender-based solutions is essential for the safe enjoyment of its extraordinary benefits!

Also do take note that lavender is incompatible with iodine and iron salts.

I will end here my little presentation of this wonder plant, but not before inviting you to leave a comment telling me whether you like it or not and why.

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