Lavender is more than just a pretty plant. This fragrant perennial has been revered throughout the ages for its ability to breathe a sense of clarity and calm into every cupboard, room or beauty product in which it dwells. It has long been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue.
Lavender, Lavandula, of which there are several known species, is a shrub-like herb that can be found in gardens countrywide where it is adored for its lovely little blue flower buds that grow in whorls. It is famous worldwide for its popular and pleasing floral fragrance. Further, research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled so don’t leave your lavender outdoors solely to grace the garden, bring it indoors to grace you and your home with some of its healing properties.
Lavender Ushers Sweet Sleep
“There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight.
SHAKESPEARE, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
For centuries bedding and pillows have been stuffed with scented herbs, grasses and petals for utility sake as well as to aid in sleep. Victorian Era ladies favored lavender in their pillows for its sweet scent and often inhaled it to calm their nerves. Using lavender as a sleep aid is as old as time and the current research is now beginning to support what has long been known. According to one study at Wesleyan University, smelling lavender before sleep increased the percentage of deep or slow-wave sleep in both men and women and all of the subjects reported higher vigor the morning after lavender exposure. So, how to infuse the sleepy scent into our nighttime routine?
- Add dried flower buds into pillows either directly or by placing a sachet or pad into the pillowcase.
- Spritz your pillows and linens with an essential oil spritzer consisting of water, lavender essential oil and either witch hazel or alcohol.
- Massage the scent (mixed with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil) into temples, behind the ears and under the nose.
- Dab a few drops of lavender essential oil onto tissue paper and place under pillow.
- Brew a before bed cup of lavender tea for sweet dreams.
Lavender Refreshes Rooms and Drawers
- Toss the synthetic room fresheners and create a natural room potpourri consisting of dried lavender buds and any other garden flowers or herbs such as geranium, rose petals or rosemary. Not only will it smell amazing but when placed in a decorative bowl it adds a burst of color and beauty. *When scent fades simply revive with a few drops of lavender essential oil.
- Sachets or simply old hankies or cotton napkins can be stuffed with dried lavender buds and tied with a ribbon and tossed into drawers and linen cupboards to infuse a wonderful refreshing lavender scent.
- Go to the source and infuse your laundry with lavender by stuffing a muslin sachet with the dried buds and topping with a couple of cotton balls. Pull tightly to close and you are good to go. Throw one in with the next load of damp clothes to the dryer and let the scent infuse your laundry.
Let Lavender Revive Your Beauty Routine
The Latin root for lavender is lavare which means “to wash” and speaks of the cleansing and refreshing qualities of this herb. Lavender can be added into a daily facial cleansing routine to revive and uplift your skin and your spirits. Below is a recipe for a floral vinegar that can be used in the bath or as a general tonic. Simply add 1cup to bath as a general tonic and to aid in dry skin or dab forehead and temples and behind ears to refresh after being out in the sun.
1 1/2c fresh lavender buds
2 cups white wine or cider vinegar
Put lavender buds into a large bottle. Gently warm the vinegar then pour over lavender buds in the bottle. Leave bottle on sunny windowsill for two weeks. Strain.
Lavender as First-Aid and Relief
Lavender Essential Oil has analgesic properties and can be helpful for minor burns, scrapes and bites. Mixed with a carrier oil such as sweet almond or jojoba oil it can be used on minor burns and/or bug bites to offer quick relief. We have on hand a roller bottle for when those inevitable kitchen burns arise. Essential oils are potent and it only takes 1-2 drops of essential oil added to 1/4 oz of carrier oil. Certainly for severe burns seek medical advice immediately.
From his book published in 1597, Garden of Health, William Langham gave a method for perfuming clothes that would also act as an insect repellant:
“Boyle it (lavender) in water and wett thy shirt in it and dry it again and weare it.”
Laundering your clothes in the scent of lavender might serve to keep away menacing mosquitoes as well as offering a relaxing scent! However you choose to use it, lavender has much to offer within the home, hearth and heart.