Lavender

Lavendula officinalis, Labiatae. The flowers are the part of the plant used.

The flowers should be collected just before opening in summer. They should be dried gently at a temperature not above 35 degrees C.

Functions of lavender

This wonderful herb has many uses, in food, cosmetics and medicines. The lavender oil should not be taken internally, but it can be inhaled, rubbed on the skin or used in baths. It:

  • has a wonderfully relaxing effect on mind and body. It is a good remedy for:
    • anxiety,
    • nervous and physical symptoms caused by stress, for example:
      • headaches,
      • palpitations and
      • insomnia.
  • has a stimulating effect as well so it is useful as a tonic for the nervous system in people who are suffering from nervous exhaustion.
  • also has a relaxing effect on the digestive system where it soothes spasms, and colic related to tensions and anxiety. It relieves:
    • distension,
    • wind,
    • nausea,
    • indigestion and
    • stimulates the appetite.
  • has powerful antiseptic properties that have been shown to be effective against bacteria such as diphtheria, typhoid, streptococcus and pneumococcus.
  • When taken as a hot infusion lavender causes sweating and reduces fever. It assist in detoxifying the body by increasing the elimination of toxins via the skin and with its mild diuretic action, through the urine.
  • is useful externally as a disinfectant for cuts and wound, sores and ulcers and in cases of eczema and acne.

Notes on lavender

  • Small amounts used in cooking are generally safe, but do not take internally in medicinal doses during pregnancy.

Dosages

Infusion: to take internally, pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This can be drunk three times per day.

External use: The oil should not be taken internally. It can be used in baths, rubbed on the skin or used in oil burners and inhaled.

For the gardener

As a general guideline lavenders need light soils in sunny positions. They will survive winters well if they have a well drained soil. They should be pruned after flowering, usually in the autumn. They can be grown from seed sown in the spring, but they are more easily grown from cuttings taken in the spring. Cultivars do not often grow true to form when they are grown from the seeds and are best taken from cuttings.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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