Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, syn. L. officinalis) is often seen as a queen of medicinal plants. It is a flowering plant of the mint family known for its beauty and unique fragrance that is produced by the combination of 180 different substances.
Lavender originated in the Mediterranean and Middle East and its history of use goes back over 2,500 years. Lavender has been extensively used for its medicinal, relaxation and skin healing properties.
In the regions of Persia, Rome, and Ancient Greece lavender was often added into baths. These cultures believed that lavender helped to purify the body and mind. The Romans used lavender to scent their beds, clothes and even hair. These cultures also used in the preparation of tea for a soothing effect and recognized lavender’s antiseptic and healing qualities.
In Medieval and Renaissance France, women who took in laundry for hire were known as “lavenders.” Clothes were washed in lavender and laid to dry on lavender bushes. Lavender was used to scent drawers, perfume the air, ward off infection and heal wounds.
Queen Elizabeth (the first), demanded that fresh lavender flowers were made available every day of the year. Louis XIV bathed in scented lavender water and Queen Victoria used a lavender deodorant.
In the 16th century glove makers in France who perfumed their wares with lavender were said to have escaped cholera. Lavender was also used as a remedy for the Great Plague in London in the 17th century. During this time, people wore lavender on each wrist as a way to protect against disease. It is also written that thieves who washed in lavender after robbing graves did not get ill from the plague.
What was once the rage in Europe quickly caught on in the Americas. The Shakers were the first to grow lavender commercially. After arriving from England, they were successful in developing herb farms and produced their own products and medicines and sold them to far-away markets.
Lavender became famous for its skin healing when René-Maurice Gattefossé, the 1930’s French chemist, burned his hand in his laboratory. He applied lavender oil to treat the burn and was so impressed by the quick healing process that he published a book, “Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales,” and coined the word aromatherapy. At the same time, a French biochemist, Marguerite Maury, developed a unique method of applying these oils to the skin with massage, hence the practice of aromatherapy massage, now used all over the world.
Lavender and Love
Lavender symbolizes enchantment and love. Lavender has long been considered an herb of love. For centuries it's long been thought to be an aphrodisiac. Cleopatra supposedly used it to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. In Tudor times, a lavender brew was taken by maidens on St. Luke's Day to discover the identity of their true loves. Once upon a time, ladies wore small lavender pouches in their cleavage to lure suitors. Lavender under the beds of newlyweds ensured passion and put in the pillows of Alpine maidens it brought hopes of romance. To date, people in certain cultures express love to their beloved with a bouquet of lavender.
Lavender’s Protective History
Many early religious writings refer to the use of this herb as a way to ward off and protect against evil. In many Christian houses, a cross of lavender was hung over the door for protection. In Spain and Portugal, lavender was traditionally strewn on the floor of churches or thrown into bonfires to avert evil spirits on St. John’s Day. In Tuscany, pinning a sprig of lavender to your shirt was a traditional way to ward against the evil eye. In the 1800’s gypsy travelers sold bunches of lavender on the streets of London to bring people good luck and protect against ill fortune.
Therapeutic & Practical Uses For Us Today
Lavender essential oil is used in aromatherapy, for a long list of physical and emotional purposes.
It is known to kill bacteria, alleviate the effects of and heal insect bites, sunburn, small cuts and burns. Lavender’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and wound-healing properties can benefit the skin in numerous ways. It is known to soothe headaches, migraines and motion sickness when applied to the temples. Most notably lavender is frequently used for its calming effects, for relaxation, promoting deeper and longer sleep and balancing emotions.
Today, there are 30 different species of lavender being cultivated commercially around the globe. Connect with me for a one-one consultation. I will teach you how to use Lavender to improve circumstances specific to your life, help you acquire the lavender that will best suit you, and make you a 2 oz. personalized blend using lavender as the primary ingredient.
Lavender is one of the safest plants for general use. But it’s not without its contraindications. For example, lavender may intensify sedative or anticonvulsant drugs, and because of properties regarding hormone regulation, regular use isn’t recommended in young males for extended periods of time.