Purple, tiny, fragrant and oh so calming...lavender. Just saying the word lavender, I conjure up images of violet fields in a sleepy Provence town. Not that I've seen such a place myself, but I can dream, can't I?
This purple plant which is part of the mint family is by far one of my favorites. I happen to have just a few (15 or so, but who's counting) lavender products in my possession. It's like this thing that happens to me anytime I see anything made out of lavender. I have to have it, I don't really care what it is but I know I need it in my life.
Lavender has been widely used in everything from food to sleep treatments to beauty and skin care products. It helps to minimize symptoms of anxiety and depression, relieves stress, helps with wound healing, tension relief and more.
Stress relieving - When I think of lavender, the words calm and relaxation come to mind. The scent of lavender can play a role in reducing nervous system activity. And studies have shown promising findings in using lavender for stress management. This study looks at the effects of lavender inhalation during one of the most stressful times in a woman's life - after childbirth.
Anxiety and Depression treatment - Lavender has been widely used as a natural treatment for anxiety and depression. This double blind, placebo controlled study shows that lavender is a good alternative in the treatment of GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). "Since lavender oil showed no sedative effects in our study and has no potential for drug abuse, silexan appears to be an effective and well tolerated alternative to benzodiazepines for amelioration of generalised anxiety."
Improved sleep - Diffusing lavender oil at night has drastically improved my sleep. I'd been skeptical about the benefits until I tried it for myself. "lavender serves as a mild sedative and has practical applications as a novel, nonphotic method for promoting deep sleep in young men and women and for producing gender-dependent sleep effects." I use this diffuser.
Hair growth - Among thyme, rosemary and cedarwood, lavender oil helps to promote hair growth. This animal study explains that lavender oil improves hair growth and restores hair follicles to their optimal function. Applying lavender oil in combination with a carrier oil on a regular basis may promote hair growth.
Try this recipe - Combine:
- 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp castor oil
- 3 drops lavender oil
- 3 drops peppermint oil
You can store this in a container and massage onto scalp and let sit for 20-30 minutes then wash hair as you normally would. The mixture will harden above 72 degrees.
Digestive health - Those who suffer from IBS know the feeling all too well...cramping, bloating and discomfort. Lavender helps to relax the smooth muscle lining the colon. While taking lavender oil internally is acceptable, a preferred form of consuming lavender is through tea.
Wound healing - One of the more surprising benefits of lavender is its use in accelerating wound healing. This study suggests that the use of a lavender oil solution applied for 14 days promotes and speeds up wound healing. "Topical application of lavender oil induced expression of type I and III collagen at 4 days after wounding, accompanied by an increased number of fibroblasts, which synthesize collagen."
Uses for lavender oil
in the treatment of head lice
mixed with carrier oil, it reduces diaper rash
soothes insect bites
cold sore treatment
add a few drops to bath water
as a massage oil for body aches and pains
relieves athlete's foot
add 1 drop to unscented lotion
add 1 drop to 2 tbsp coconut oil for a calming foot rub
use as a body scrub in combination with sugar and coconut oil
room spray - mix 10 drops of lavender with 2 ounces of water in a small spray bottle
Uses for dry lavender
use in cooking and baking (try this one)
make lavender sachet and place in closest or dresser
take a few dry leaves and crush them between your fingers and rub on temples for a dose of stress relief
use as decoration
home made soap
tuck some into pillow cases