Too often dismissed to the realms of Granny’s dressing room, this pretty purple flower – besides smelling divine – has a whole host of health boosting properties.
From promoting deep sleep and luscious feelings of relaxation, lavender has been used in wellbeing rituals almost since the dawn of time. But what other lovely benefits can it bring you? Read on to find out more.
The History of Lavender
Lavender – though it conjures up the violet-smudged fields of Provence, France – isn’t just native to the Mediterranean. Found in India and the Middle East, this flower has been used for over 2500 years around the world.
Known as ‘nard’ in the Middle East, from the city named Naarda, in Syria, the English word ‘lavender’ comes from the Latin ‘lavere’ – to wash. Used extensively by the Romans in bathing, hair-washing and other bodily ablutions, lavender quickly became synonymous with feeling fresh and clean.
Today, it takes one hectare of lavender flowers to produce 15kg of essential oil – that’s 10,000 square metres! The flower can also be dried, used as a supplement ingredient, or infused into water.
Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits these slender stems offer.
We can’t think of many fragrances that are more soothing to breathe in before bed than lavender.
Whether you dot the oil on your pillow before diving under your duvet, or have a steamy, relaxing soak with one of our gorgeous bath melts, the active ingredients here – linalyl acetate and linalool – have a very gentle sedative effect – just perfect for drifting off to sleep.
You could even make a pillow spray to add to your night-time rituals. Just follow these excellent instructions via The Spruce, and you’ll be on your way to the land of nod in no time.
Cleansing and Cooling
Had a mosquito bite or a bee sting? Lavender has been used for centuries to soothe and cool itches, nibbles, sunburn, and more. Try a cotton pad soaked in lavender water the next time you do find yourself feeling the urge to scratch.
For any hay fever sufferers, a little flannel dampened with lavender water and laid over closed eyes could help to reduce redness and itchiness, if the pollen has provoked a reaction.
It’s also thought that the cooling properties of lavender are ideal for calming down hot flushes brought on by the menopause, or even bouts of hormonal or teenage acne.
Lavender is also thought to have pain-relieving effects, blocking certain neurotransmitters, which can certainly be helpful if you’ve sat at a desk all day and are feeling a little stiff.
Using lavender in a carrier oil, like sweet almond, or our Heyland & Whittle Citrus and Lavender Luxury Massage oil - gently massaged into a tender or sore spot, can help to naturally relieve discomfort or achy muscles. It can also have a beneficial impact on low mood, and conditions like depression, when you may feel more aware of any physical discomfort.
Did you know that lavender is a member of the mint family? Edible – and often used to gently scent baked goods and sweet treats (Diana Henry’s lemon and lavender cake is a team favourite here at Heyland & Whittle) – lavender can be used in tea to soothe nervousness and encourage deeper relaxation.
As with all things, be sure to check with your doctor before adding lavender in as dietary supplement – and never ingest or swallow lavender (or any other) essential oil as this can be toxic and/or fatal.
How do you use yours?
Do you have any favourite uses for lavender? We’d love to know.
Whether you diffuse it, sprinkle organic buds on icing as a cake decoration, or even sew it into a little pouch to scent wardrobes and drawers with, there seems to be no end to its wonderful wellbeing uses – let us know how you use yours in the comments section below.