A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Lavandula officinalis syn. L. angustifolia
The shrubby herbal plant called the lavender is a common sight in the South Europe. The lavender is also cultivated and grown in many other places, especially the southern and western regions of the United States, where it is also a common sight. The plant grows best at sites with a good exposure to sunlight; in general the lavender prefers dry and sunny places for optimal growth.
The lavender is multi branched and possesses a woody stem averaging in height from six and twenty four inches - it is thus, a small shrub. Lavender bears opposite placed leaves, each leaf is very narrow, and can range anywhere from three fourths of an inch to two inches in length, the leaves are gray green in color, and they tend to be tomentose in shape.
The flowers bloom from the month of June through September in the fall, however, the blooms of one variety persist a little longer - the L. latifalia - into late fall. The flowers are baby blue in coloration and are small sized flowers; the flowers have a strong smell. Each flower branch ends in spikes borne at the end of lengthy floral stalks. The best smelling of the flowers are the flowers borne by the L. angustifolia sub species. In general, all lavender varieties have flowers which contain a richly perfumed, colorless and volatile oil made from linalyle acetate and a hydroxycoumarin compound known as herniarin - these compounds find use in the perfumery and cosmetic industries.
The scent of the lavender has been prized for thousands of years and the plant has been valued as a scented herb in many civilizations of the past. The mind and the body can be relaxed and soothed down by the inhalation of an herbal infusion or herbal tincture made from the essential oil of the lavender, smelling the lavender flowers also induces this effect in the body. The herbal remedy made from the herb is effective in the treatment of prolonged anxiety, chronic and persistent nervousness, as well as in alleviating the physical symptoms induced by excessive stress such as tension headaches, persistent migraine, cardiac palpitations and sleep disorders like insomnia. The emotions are said to be brought into balance by the application of lavender oil, it is said to elevate flagging spirits, helping in relieving depression and enabling the person to overcome inner disharmony and mental problems. The stimulating effect of the lavender is another potent property of the herb, the remedy brings a tonic effect on the nervous system, and it helps to restore the vitality to individuals affected by long term nervous exhaustion and mental trauma.
The disorders of the digestive tract in particular are greatly eased by the relaxing effect of the lavender, the herbal remedy soothes muscle spasms and eases colic related to mental tension and anxiety. It is also very effective in helping relieve abdominal distension, in relieving persistent flatulence, spells of nausea as well as indigestion. The lavender herbal remedy boosts a flagging appetite, enabling the person to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from the diet. The volatile oils in the lavender are a powerful antiseptic, and have been shown to have a good effect against pathogenic bacteria such as the strains responsible for diseases like diphtheria and typhoid, it is very potent against the streptococcus and pneumococcus strains of bacteria. The herbal remedy can be taken in the form of an herbal tea, it can also be inhaled as dispersed oil or used as a vapor rub. Used topically, the lavender is capable of alleviating common colds, chronic coughs, problems such as asthma and persistent bronchitis, problems like pneumonia, the flu, persistent tonsillitis and laryngitis in affected individuals. A lavender herbal tea or tincture is also useful for the treatment of stomach and bowel infections that are accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea as symptoms.
When prepared in the form of a hot herbal tea, the remedy made from lavender induces sweating and helps reduce the elevated body temperatures in case of fevers. The body is also detoxified by the lavender remedy; the herb rapidly eliminates accumulated toxins in the body through the skin and the urine as a result of its mild diuretic effect.
The remedy made from the lavender herb is also very effective as an external disinfectant in the treatment of all kinds of cuts and wounds, helping heal all kinds of sores and ulcers on the body. The tissue repair and restoration process in the body is also stimulated by the herbal remedy resulting in the minimization of scar formation especially when the volatile oil is applied next to the burns. The diluted oil is used in the treatment of disorders such as eczema, chronic acne and varicose ulcers in the affected person.
Flowers, essential oil.
The soothing and calming action of the herbal lavender remedy is well known to herbalists. The lavender is often combined in mixed remedies with different sedative herbs to treat problems such as sleeplessness, nervous irritability, chronic headaches, as well as persistent migraine problems in affected individuals. The herbal remedy made from the lavender is also very useful in alleviating depression and related mental disorders.
Other medical uses
The lavender is also used in cuisines, the dried parts of the lavender plant including the leaves, the floral buds, and the flowers are used as a seasoning for many kinds of meat and vegetable dishes in Europe.
The beautiful and graceful appearing lavender spikes are a good addition to fresh floral arrangements sold in floral shops. The fragrant and aromatic quality of dried lavender spikes persists for a number of years; this makes them very nice additions for potpourris and floral sachets.
Habitat and cultivation
The lavender is a herb originally found only in France and the western Mediterranean region. These days, the lavender is cultivated around the world mainly for its aromatic volatile oil. The lavender is also a popular garden plant and is a common sight in gardens even as far north as Norway in Europe.
Scientist have been researching the main chemical constituents of the essential oil for many decades now, from the results, it is believed to have a very low toxicity in the human body and possesses significant antiseptic and bactericidal effects. Nervous excitability, irritability and pain are also reduced by the lavender.
The remedy made from the lavender can be taken in the form of an herbal infusion for the treatment of indigestion, to treat such problems doses of one hundred ml or four fl oz can be taken two times every day. The tincture of lavender can be used as a remedy for the treatment of chronic sleeplessness and other related sleep disorders, a dose of three to five ml - about half a tsp to one tsp - can be used at night for such disorders. The infusion or the essential oil of the lavender can be added to bath water and used for washing before bedtime, this helps relieve emotional and physical stress and aids in alleviating tension, this remedy can also be used in a diffuser to induce sleep in sleepless individuals. A topical lavender treatment can be used to treat persistent headaches, two drops of lavender essential oil added in a bowl of cold water can be used as a remedy - a cloth soaked in this solution can be used as a compress and placed across the forehead to bring relief from headaches. Physical and nervous exhaustion can be treated by adding five drops of lavender oil to a footbath, washing the feet with this solution brings soothing relief from tension. The lavender oil and infusion can also be used as a rub or massaging oil for treating arthritic complaints, one drop each of lavender essential oil and the essential oil of the wintergreen added to fifty ml or four tbsp of carrier oil can be used as a topical remedy to treat various problems affecting the human body. The essential oil of the lavender can be used as a direct application in treating insect bites or stings of all kinds.
Side effects and cautions
Topical use of the essential oil of the lavender can induce problems such as dermatitis in some individuals. The essential oil of the lavender is widely available for use in aromatherapy, and an herbal tea is often made from a few drops of this oil as well. Using large doses of the lavender oil is not advised for any reason, the lavender is a narcotic poison which can easily induce muscular convulsions and death in some cases. The oil must be used in small quantities to avoid these side effects.
How it works in the body
The remedy made from the lavender induces a calming and relaxing effect on the human body, making it an effective remedy to treat the disorders affecting various organ systems in the body. The remedy made from the lavender is very effective in treating disorders affecting the digestive system, it helps calm problems such as indigestion and alleviates related physical symptoms including excess abdominal wind and bloating in the stomach. The lavender is used for the treatment of chronic headaches, to treat long term depression, and sleeplessness - it is also useful in treating other problems affecting the nervous system. The remedy made from the lavender is also useful in the treatment of asthma and related respiratory problems, particularly in cases where a nervous element contributes to the physical symptoms in the disease. The lavender remedy is also useful in the treatment of topical problems, when added to different creams and rubbing oils - it can be effective as a rub in treating arthritic complaints of all kinds. The lavender also effectively acts as a painkiller remedy and helps relieve painful joints and related arthritic type conditions. The remedy is also beneficial in treating nerve pain and neuralgia, the external remedy is useful and helpful when included in creams and oils meant for topical use.
Collection and harvesting
The best time to pick lavender flowers is before the last blooms on each individual stalk has fully opened up. Typically, dry days are chosen when harvesting the flowers, the collection is carried out in the morning before sunlight has not evaporated too much of the essential oils present in the flowers. The floral stalks are harvested and tied in neat bundles and hung to dry in a warm, shady and airy area. Several weeks may pass before the flowers become completely dry. When the floral stalks become crisp to the touch, the flowers are stripped off the flowers and these are stored in airtight containers and kept in a dark place. Cookie sheets may also be used to dry the stalks; the stalks are laid flat on the surface and dried slowly. To make the best potpourris, it is ideal to use flowers in buds that have just begun to open up.
Combine all the ingredients except the oil. Add the oil a drop at a time, tossing as you add. Seal and cure in a dry, airy, warm place for 6 weeks, shaking daily. Pack into a decorative container with a tight stopper.
Cotton lavender moth repellent
A mixture of cotton lavender and other herbs makes a useful moth repellent. Make sweet bags filled with the mixture and hang in wardrobes or place in cupboards or drawers to ward off moths, and to impart an aromatic scent to clothes and linen.
Equal parts, dried and crumbled.
Combine the ingredients and use to fill bags made of lightweight fabric, adding ribbon loops for hanging if desired.
Store two or three dried heads of lavender in an airtight jar of caster sugar. This will scent the sugar beautifully. The sugar may be used sparingly in delicately flavored dishes, such as simple sponge cakes, custards or ice cream.
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