Flowers and plants’ essential oils can have incredible healing effects on the body, with the most versatile oil found in the flowers of the lavender plant.
These beautiful stalks of tiny individual flowers spike towards the sky, opening up soft purple whorls to the sun where bees and butterflies come to drink of her nectar.
Nothing calls out so beautifully as walking into a room with a vase filled with lavender stalks gracing the area with its sweet scent both soothing the spirit and purifying the air. Belonging to the mint family, the lavender plant loves temperate climates and originated from areas around southern Europe to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India.
Lavender has been in documented use for over 2,500 years. Egyptians used it in their mummification processes. It was used as perfume by the Phoenicians, and the Romans used the oils for bathing, cooking, and scenting the air. In the world of aromatherapy, it is used as a top note and said to have a green, hay-like sweetness that gives “fruity aspects” to perfumes and other scented products.
From ornamental plants to culinary delights, the advantages to having lavender around are many. Lavender can treat hyperactivity, insomnia and flatulence as well as attack bacteria, fungus and microbial activity on the gums. Airborne molds don’t thrive in the presence of lavender oil. And for those interested in a little loving, lavender may even be useful against impotence where in a study of men its scent (along with pumpkin) rated as most arousing.
Extracted to an essential oil, lavender has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that make it top on the list to keep around. Applied topically on a cut where it has been diluted with carrier oil (jojoba is best), it keeps infection out and allows the skin to heal nicely. It’s a remedy for aching muscles when the diluted oil is rubbed deeply into the sore or injured area. Try soaking tired feet in a tub of warm lavender water to quiet those barking toes. Burns respond to ointments with lavender, healing the skin with much less scarring than normal.
Rich in aromatic molecules called esters, Lavender is antispasmodic, pacifying and tonic. Other molecules give it its antiviral and bacterial powers providing benefits to breathing when lungs and sinuses are filled with phlegm. Place a few drops of the essential oil in a diffuser to defend the respiratory system against airborne viruses. Or place a drop or two in a tissue or handkerchief and deeply inhale the scent.
Warming a bottle of lavender oil (10-12 drops to 1 oz of carrier oil) in hot water for a minute or two then gently massaging into the skin around the ears and throat can sooth an earache and keep an infection at bay. Long used for its headache relief, placing a drop of the diluted oil on each index finger then rubbing the temples gently relaxes the tense muscles while the inhaled scent calms the mind.
Mosquitoes and moths hate the smell. And when sprayed as a hydrosol (4 drops of essential oil to 4 oz of distilled water) on the bed and left to dry, can keep bedbugs away. The kitchen loves lavender, and cooking with this wonderful herb is delightful and can help ease digestive problems. Flowers and leaves can be used fresh and both buds and stems can be used dried. Herbs d’Provence typically contains lavender and can be used as a savory pinch to any meat or soup dish. Taking the stems and using them to make fruit or shrimp kabobs allows the aromatic flowers to enhance the flavor. The lavender buds sprinkled over a salad brings a bright colorful addition to its greens, while dropping a few into a glass of champagne or mixed into a chocolate cake recipe creates an aromatic enchantment.
This versatile humble plant should not be overlooked, and including the essential oils, dried herbs and fresh flowers into the home makes for healthier living.