Lavender is one of the best loved and most well known herbs around. As a common addition to soaps, perfumes, lotions, and even cleaning products, Lavender is all around us. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t familiar with its scent, at the very least. Most are familiar with its use in aromatherapy for its relaxing and calming effects, but Lavender has much more to offer.
Lavender has become one of my most valuable medicine cabinet herbs and is now part of my daily routine. While Lavender may be used internally, it’s external uses are many and just as valuable. In fact, I prefer working with this herb externally and rarely use its medicine internally. It’s simple, gentle, and safe for just about everyone of all ages. Some people are allergic to Lavender and may develop a skin rash, so always do a spot test first if you are unsure.
It is said that Lavender’s Latin name (Lavandula spp.) is derived from Old French lavandre, meaning “to wash”, eluding to its use as a bathing herb. A hot Lavender bath is certainly one of the herb’s most popular uses. For a relaxing bath I recommend making a strong tea, using dried or fresh lavender flowers, by steeping the herb for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Draw your bath and pour the strained infusion into the running water. Epsom salts may be added as well to aid in relaxing tense muscles. If you don’t have time to make tea, simply add 30 to 60 drops (roughly ½ teaspoon) of essential oil to your bath water.
A hot Lavender bath does more than simply calm and relax your mind, it has a similar effect on your body. A body ravaged by tension or stress would do well with some Lavender. The herb is warming and stimulating, helping to loosen and move stagnation. This aids in the relaxing of tense or knotted muscles and in moving congested lymph. The steam from a hot bath disperses Lavender’s fragrant aroma, which has a calming effect upon the nervous system. Lavender’s scent is soothing, uplifting, and calming. It is beneficial to those who suffer from depressed mood, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue.
One of my favorite uses for Lavender is treating tension headaches. An infused oil, salve, or essential oil in a carrier oil may be applied directly to your temples, forehead, and back of the neck. Additionally, all of these applications are wonderful in massages for the lymph glands (particularly along the neck), muscles, joints, breasts, shoulders, or feet. Every morning after washing up I will use a lavender salve to massage along my neck, jaw line, and behind my ears. I’ve noticed it has helped reduce the swelling of my lymph glands in that area, which had been a persistent issue for me.
Lavender is a vulnerary herb and can be applied topically to acne, eczema, small wounds, and dry skin to aid in the healing process. A tea wash, salve, or infused oil are all useful in these cases. It is also a handy pest-repellant, particularly the essential oil, which can be added to bug sprays to keep away some insects. Of course, you can also keep a Lavender sachet by your pillow or apply some Lavender oil before bed to help relax you into sleep.
These are just a few of Lavender’s many talents, which I encourage everyone to explore. It’s a valuable herb that goes far beyond its fragrant perfume, a benefit to men and women alike in this stressful, modern world.