Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia and other species)
There are many species of lavender, and any aromatic species can be used. I grow Lavandula angustifolia in my garden for harvesting and usually grow a few different varieties to experiment with. Lavender is not a herb that grows wild in the northeastern United States.
Lovely lavender calms the nervous system, heals burns on the skin, and disinfects harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. You can drink the tea, wash burns with it, cook with it, and even put it in your bucket to wash your floors and walls. This will not only act as a disinfectant, it will smell lovely and bring a peaceful vibration into your home.
Lavender is a physical ally in so many ways. Scientific research has shown that it contains a class of molecules called monoterpenes. One of these is perillyl alcohol, which has been shown to help stop cancer cells from dividing. Lavender is also a spiritual ally, helping bring ease and sweetness into our lives.
Use dried lavender flowers and leaves for teas, infusions, baths, oils, sprays, honey balls, or as part of a smoke blend. You can make a soothing lavender bath by adding a half-gallon of lavender tea into your bath water, or grinding dry leaves and flowers and mixing them with sea or Epsom salts. Add one tablespoon or more of this mixture to a bath. Do what’s pleasing to your senses in terms of how strong or mild a lavender aroma you like.
If you are adding essential oil of lavender to a bath, make sure you add it (5-10 drops) after the bath is filled so that it doesn’t dissipate and waste the oil. You can also make your own fresh lavender flower and leaf infused oil. If you use that in your bath, add about a tablespoon when the bath is about half full, and swirl it around to blend it in. It creates a fragrant, beautiful blend and helps in situations on the whole continuum from simple calming to post-traumatic stress healing.
Lavender tea is pain-relieving, muscle-relaxing, anti-depressant, and helps to soothe an aching or breaking heart. For any of these last purposes, it can be used alone or combine it with oat straw.
Lavender helps with tension headaches and anxiety. Herbalist Kiva Rose shares this observation and advice: “Lavender is appropriate as a nervine when a person is anxious, confused and has a wrinkled forehead that can’t relax. The forehead will give it away every time.”
Another lovely way to use your lavender is an infused honey. This helps with agitation, the blues and bitter grief.
Lavender tea helps ease insomnia. It is a relaxing, restful sleep herb. It’s theorized that chemicals in lavender in lavender interact with the reticular activating system (RAS) in the brain that controls the wake-sleep cycle to induce restful sleep. That may be—or it may be the lavender-hued woman who rises up out of the plant to stroke your hairline like a loving mother (probably right over the area of your reticular activating system) who soothes you to sleep. Or perhaps it’s both, and they are different expressions of the same effect!
You can put a small bag of dried lavender under a pillow, and spray lavender water onto pillows and other bedding for restful sleep and especially to relieve nightmares. I’ve had very good results using lavender for children and adults with nightmares. Here is an easy spray recipe:
Lavender Spray – Variation II
- Dried lavender flowers
- Quart Jar
- Spray bottle
Put 1/8 cup of good-quality dried lavender flowers into a quart jar. Cover with boiled water. Cap and steep for 20 minutes. Decant promptly, squeezing the flowers to retrieve the past of their oils. Fill your spray bottle with the lavender infusion. Keep refrigerated with not in use to prolong the shelf life of this preparation. You can also add one drop or more of the essential oil to help preserve it.
This spray is an indispensable aid when traveling, whether by plane, bus, train or in your own car. I carry a bottle with me almost everywhere. In any public place, your lavender spray will calm and refresh you, and lift your spirits. Its antiseptic oils will help to disinfect germs. You can spray it on your hands and face. It’s very lovely, and people almost never object to it. In fact, more often than not, they ask for some too. I’d love to hear what creative applications you come up with – share your ideas with me in the comments below.