Lavender flowers have been keeping humans fresh in potpourris and baths for centuries. And its essential oil has been used in perfume and medicinally for just as long. The word Lavender could have come from the Latin lavare, meaning ‘to wash’. Or it could have come from livere, meaning ‘bluish’.
Lavender is a member of the mint family, indigenous to the mountain regions of the Mediterranean and Middle East and valued back in the day for its therapeutic, culinary and beauty benefits. Ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks used it to scent baths, skin, beds, clothes and hair; to help them sleep; to dress battle wounds, in food preparation and for air purification. Bundles of dried lavender were given to women in labour to squeeze during contractions, as the fragrance released was known to relax the pain. It was used extensively for body, mind and spirit health.
Lavender proved indispensible in combatting The Plague in the 17th Century. It protected against infection. Bundles of lavender, or ‘posies’, were carried or tied at the wrist to help ward off infection. Gloves were infused with Lavender Oil to do the same. The story goes that the entire town of Bucklersbury completely escaped the plague, due to it being the center of the European Lavender Industry, where everyone had access to the healing powers of Lavender Oil.
In the Victorian Era, English royalty were particularly fond of Lavender. It was used throughout the castles for everything. Floors and furniture were washed with lavender; linens were perfumed with it. wanted a supply of fresh flower bundles brought to her daily. Lavender flowers, strewn over stone castle floor, released its scent under foot. Queen Vic started a trend and soon all fine English ladies followed suit and scented themselves and everything else with Lavender, which was grown in just about every home herb garden. During the First World War, Lavender oil gained widespread use for its antiseptic properties. Lavender washes were used to bathe wounds and it was an essential in every soldier’s burn kit.
What say you, Science?
Fast forward to now. Recent scientific and medical research (Biological activities of Lavender essential oil. 1. H.M.A. Cavanagh and 2. J.M. Wilkinson / Article first published JUN 2002) has proven that the essential oil of lavender has properties that rival—and even surpass—many modern antiseptic chemicals and antibiotic drugs. Lavender oil’s powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial, sedative, calming and anti-depressive properties make it a ‘must have’ in any contemporary medicine cabinet.
The Infographic below from www.ayurvedicoils.com breaks down Lavender's chemical properties in a simple way.
In short, Lavender oil has what it takes to calm us down, alleviate pain, kill bacteria and fungus, take down inflammation, help us breathe better, suppress coughing, repell some insects and fight free radicals on the skin. That’s one powerhouse plant! Thank you, Mother Nature. Oh, and Happy Mother's Day!
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
What are your favourite ways to use Lavender Oil?
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