Monday, June 14, 2010

Monthly Herbal: Lavender

Part of this blog to be to present and herb/oil monthly so as to introduce readers to its properties and health benefits.

I wanted to start with Lavender because of 2 reasons:
1. Lavender is my favorite essential oil and scent. I use it to relax, to smell good, to heal burns, and much more. It is also one of my favorite colors.
2. Lavender is considered by many to be an essential herb to know and use because of it's ability to be used in almost any issue.

The Herb
Lavender (Lavendula spp.)
Folk Names: Elf Leaf, Nardus.
The name comes from the Latin lavere "to wash." It is believed that the herb recieved this name due to its cleansing qualities and use in the Roman baths.

Lavender is from the Mint family and has many, many species. The best to use is Lavendula augustifolia or "True Lavender."

The plant is an evergreen shrub (reachign 3 ft.) with purple flowers (note the term Lavender for a light shade of purple).
Lavender grows in its native land along the Mediterannean but is also cultivated in England, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia.

Safety Information
Lavender is considered safe to use both on the skin and inside the body.
However, some studies suggest that use of lavender on young boys may cause development of breast tissue.

As a scent
Perfume note: Middle/Top
It combines well with bergamot, cedarwood, chammomile, clary sage, fennel, geranium, grapefruit, jasmin, lemon, myrrh, neroli, patchouli, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, tea tree, and yland-ylang oils.

Use the oil when:
Angry, Anxious, in need of Balance, when Grieving, for Insomnia, Irritable, when Nervous, when feeling Obsessive, and when Stressed.

Try a blend:
Euphoric Blend: 3 drops lavender, 2 drops orange, 3 drops clary sage, and 2 drops ylang-ylang.
Pampering Blend: 3 drops rose, 3 drops neroli, and 3 drops lavender.

Lavender addresses:
Acne, asthma, a nervous disposition, bronchitis, burns, convalescense, damaged skin, exhaustion, frustration, impatience, insomnia, irritability, headaches, painful periods, psorisis, respiratory complaints, wounds and so much more.

Lavender was first discovered to heal burns by Gattefosse when he was working in his perfume lab in France. It is said he burned his hand and instinctively dunked his hand in a vat of lavender essential oil.
I have used lavender oil (a mix of the essential oil in a base oil) on sun burns not only on myself but on my fiance and his 3yo cousin. It works quite well without the stickiness of aloe vera.

Ooh La La Herb
Lavender is also said to attract men.
I use lavender as a perfume when going on dates with my fiance.
A friend of mine knows that when she wears lavender it drives her man wild (so of course she wears it all the time)!

Breathe Deep and Relax.
This purple herb is also the herb for peace, relaxation, and spirituality.
Incense companies have created several mixes using dried lavender, lavender oil, and resin to burn for meditation, relaxation, and destressing.

I personally recommend lavender massages (try the pampering blend above). The scent is very relaxing and a massage is a great way to slough off the stress. You can give yourself a massage by rubbing the oil on your feet, hands, neck/head or you can opt to trade massages with your honey ^_~

Why does lavender work?
Lavender is not only an antibacterial, but also an antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal. It is one of the few herbs that will not irritate the skin (not even in essential oil form) or cause problems if ingested. Plus, it smells good!
It is also one of the few essential oils you can put directly on a wound! Try using on burns, scraps, insect bites, and acne.

Women's Aid
Lavender helps with PMS. It is a calming herb that will balance out moodiness and agitation. Use a lavender massage on the feet, lower back, and belly for cramping and Premenstual syndrome. Also add to a hot compress to ease cramps.
It can also be used in a feminine deodorant.

Guys too!
Try using lavender oil for athletes foot! Spray a mix of lavender oil, alcohol, and water in your shoes and on your feet. Not only will it relieve your feet of that terrible itching but you won't gag when you remove your shoes.

Bibliography and Suggested Reading:

Essential Energy by Nikki Goldstein
This book is great for anyone interested in aromatherapy and healing with oils. Not only does it give basic oil info but also the history behind using essential oils and recipes for oil blends.

Body, Mind and Spirit by Mark Evans
The aromatherapy section give pictoral aid for different ways to use oils. THis book not only has aromatherapy and herbalism aid but also information on homeopathy, massage, reflexology, yoga, shiatsu, the alexadrian technique, meditation, and auryveda.

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