Old Fashioned Medicinal Lavender

His Aunt Jobiska made him drink
Lavender water tinged with pink
For she said, ‘The world in general knows
There’s nothing so good for Pobble’s toes!’
 
Edward Lear, ‘The Pobble Who Has No Toes’
 
The old herbals constantly sang the praises of lavender for medicinal purposes. John Gerard wrote in his Herball {1597}:
The distilled water of Lavender smelt unto, or the temples and and forehead bathed therewith, is refreshing to them that have the Catalepsie, a light migram, and to them that have the falling sickness and that use to swoune much.
The floures of Lavender picked from the knaps, I means the blew part and not the husk, mixed with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves, made into powder, and given to drinke in the distilled water thereof, doth helpe the panting and passion of the heart, prevaileth against giddinesse, turning, or swimming of the braine, and members subject to the palsie.
French Lavender hath a body like Lavender, short, and of woodie substance, but slenderer, beset with long narrow leaves, of a whitish colour, lesser than those of Lavender, it hath in the top bushie or spikie heads, well compact or thrust together; out of the which grow fourth small purple flowers, or a pleasant smell. The seede is small and blackish: the roote is harde and woodie.
But long before physicians like Gerard wrote of the virtues of Lavender it had been highly regarded for its medicinal uses. Dioscorides wrote in 60AD:
Stoechas grows in the islands of Galatia over against Messalia, called ye Stoechades, from whence also it had its name, is an herb with slender twiggs, having ye haire like Tyme, but yet longer leaved, & sharp in ye taste, & somewhat bitterish, but ye decoction of it as the Hyssop is good for ye griefs in ye thorax. It is mingled also profitably with Antidots.
lavender and hyssop seem to have been used in similar ways. The Angus Castus of the 14th century made the same comments as those of Dioscorides some 1300 years later:
Lavandula is an herbe men clepe lavandre. This herbe is moche lyk to ysope but it is mo lengger lewys thenne ysope and it hast a flour sumdel blew and also the stalke growith other-wyse. The vertu of this herbe is ef it be sothyn in water and dronke that water it wele hele the palsye and many other ewyls.

LAVENDER, COMMON OR ENGLISH

Ruling Planet: Mercury
 
Lavandula augustifolia or
Lavandula officinalis
 {Culpeper: Lavandula spica}
 

USES, Medicinal:

A strong antiseptic with antibacterial properties, lavender oil was used to treat cuts, bites, stings, burns, coughs, and colds, chest infections, rheumatic aches, giddiness, and flatulence. As a soothing tonic for nervous and digestive disorders, the herb was prescribed to relieve tension, insomnia, and depression.
William Turner, the ‘father of English botany’, said that ‘the flowers of lavender, quilted in a cap, comfort the brain very well.’ A sprig of lavender placed behind the ear was reputed to cure headaches. Culpeper warned that the oil ‘is of a fierce and piercing quality, and ought to be carefully used, a very few drops being sufficient for inward or outward maladies.’ The herb was also used in the form of lavender water, and tea.

CULINARY:

Lavender leaves were added to salads and used to flavor jellies, jams, pottages, and stews. The flowers were also crystallized.

MISCELLANEOUS:

A native of the Mediterranean region, lavender was introduced into England by the Romans. Its botanical name Lavandula derives from the Latin for to wash, a reference to its use by the Romans as a scented additive to their bathwater. Grown in medieval monastic gardens, it was not only valued for its medicinal properties, but for its beauty and fragrance, and as a strewing herb, insect repellant, and a mask for unpleasant smells.
The dried flowers were added to potpourri’s, herb cushions and sachets for freshening and keeping moths away from linen. The oil was used in varnishes, perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics.

Recipe: Lavender Water.

Of course, this can be bought commercially. My favorite comes from Norfolk Lavender in England. But for home purposes, you can enjoy making up your own supply.
In a clear glass bottle steep 100 g of lavender flowers in half a liter of alcohol {brandy or vodka are both good}. Place in the sun for a few days, then strain. Repeat until the fragrance is very strong.
Strain and seal in a glass bottle. If your hair is weak, falling out and breaking, try an old idea and rub lavender water into your scalp several times a week. Try it too as a rub for rheumatism. It has a long tradition of usage for both problems.
lavender oil linalool

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is probably the most famous essential oil for relaxation and soothing nerves . . . if not the most famous essential oil hands down!

That’s because it’s gentle and so good for a wide range of issues.

Emotionally, it’s good for “calming the mind, comforting feelings and alleviating fears, while it is uplifting and revives the spirits.” (That’s from Salvatore Battaglia’s excellent book, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.)

Below, I’ll share some of the many applications of Lavender essential oil, including when to use it and then some specific recipes that you can use in your aromatherapy blends. 

1. Help kids keep calm and collected with Lavender.

Lavender may be powerful, but it’s also very gentle, and it’s one of the oils I trust the most in blends for children.

Here’s an Aromatherapy inhaler recipe for kids (over five years old) who experience anxiety.

Ingredients

  • 2 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 3 drops Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana)
  • 2 drops Tangerine (Citrus tangerina)

Want a version for grown-ups?

Ingredients

  • 3 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 6 drops Juniper (Juniperus communis)
  • 6 drops Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

2. Lavender keeps everything smelling fresh.

The word “lavender” comes from the Latin word “lavare,” which means “to wash.” That’s because, in Ancient Rome, it was used to help freshen laundry.

Lavender’s scent is strong yet soothing. How strong? Well, strong enough to sweeten laundry way back when! And I’m about to share a recipe for a bathroom spray, which has to have a strong sweet scent.

Ingredients

  • 1 oz (30 ml) water
  • 10 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 5 drops distilled Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

Here’s a tip: Try this spray on your shower curtain and towels, so when you step into and out of the shower or wrap yourself up in a towel, you get a whiff of the aroma!

3. Lavender keeps sore muscles feeling fresh, too!

Lavender can support our wellness and can help with a variety of issues, including muscle pain and inflammation.

If you want to use Lavender to massage oil blend to ease tight muscles, here is a recipe I love!

Ingredients

  • 1 oz (30 ml) Trauma Oil (This is olive oil infused with three healing herbs: arnica, St. John’s wort, and calendula.)
  • 4 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 4 drops Ho Wood (Cinnamomum camphora ct. linalol)
  • 5 drops Bergamot Mint (Mentha citrata)
  • 5 drops Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)

Directions
Make your blend in a 1 oz (30 ml) glass bottle. Massage sore areas several times a day at the onset of pain. Continue until symptoms are eased.

4. Lavender loves the skin!

It’s nourishing for most skin types, is soothing to bites, burns, scrapes, and bruises, and eases irritation, such as rashes. It is antiseptic, can help calm infection, and it has some antifungal properties. It helps to reduce scars and inflammation and promotes healthy skin.

Convinced yet?

It goes without saying that if you like Lavender, it’s a great choice for body butter and body oils. Shea butter and coconut oil are popular carriers, but there are a host of less common carrier oils and butter that have amazing skin nourishing properties that pair well with Lavender, too.

Here’s a recipe for body butter with some unique carriers (and qualities!).

Ingredients

  • 1 oz (28 gm) Avocado Oil (Persea gratissima) – Increase skin’s hydration and elastic properties
  • 1 oz (28 gm) baobab oil (Adansonia digitata) – Reduce scars and help cells regenerate
  • 2 oz (56 gm) cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao) – Full of antioxidants, excellent for mature skin
  • 1 oz (28 gm) marula oil (Sclerocarya birrea) – Promote the health of skin cell membranes
  • 1 oz (28 gm) Beeswax (Cera Alba) – Softens skin, offers antioxidants
  • 60 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – good for sore muscles, keeping you centered and focused (plus all the other benefits listed above!)

Each of these carriers has more therapeutic properties than I was able to list here, so I only highlighted a few. For example, they all soothe irritation, moisturize, and they’re all great for even sensitive skin.

The scent of this blend is like chocolate and Lavender—just delicious!

Double Lavender Roll-On Muscle Oil

Lavender and Spike Lavender are both excellent for soothing pain, with Spike Lavender being more energizing—it’s often used to soothe sore muscles during the day when you want to keep moving instead of lying back to relax.

Double Lavender Roll-On Muscle Oil

  • 1 oz (30 ml) jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis)
  • 8 drops Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 8 drops Spike Lavender essential oil (Lavandula latifolia)

Make this blend in a 1 oz (30 ml) glass roll-on bottle. Combine the ingredients, snap the roller top into place, and shake. When muscles feel tight and achy, roll on this blend and Massage away. It works great when you have a cramp or strain.

Lavender Herbal Bath Bags {DIY}

Lavender has a relaxing effect on the peripheral nervous system and has long been used to treat headaches originating from nervous tension. Not surprisingly with these medicinal properties combined with its sweet clean smell, lavender has long been a constituent of bath bags. These are made from squares of muslin or voile. A cupful of the mixture is placed in the center of the square, the sides have drawn up and tied into a bag with appropriate colored ribbon.
bath-tea-bags-xl

Lavender Mist Bath Bags

 
1/2 cup dried sweet cicely
1/2 cup dried sweet woodruff
1 tablespoon dried valerian roots
1/4 cup dried lavender leaves
1/2 cup dried lavender flowers
1/4 cup dried angelica leaves
1 1/2 cup medium ground oatmeal
1/2 cup almond meal
20 drops oil of lavender
Divide the mixture into 3 equal portions and tie into bags as previously described.
Soak the bag thoroughly in hot water at the bottom of the bath before topping up with cool water.
Squeeze the bag repeatedly until no more milkiness emerges. The water will now be silky soft and fragrant.
Use the bag as a final gentle skin scrub. The bag is reusable once provided it is used the next day.

Aromatic Bath

 
This recipe is adapted from the Toilet of Flora published in the seventeenth century.
Combine half a cup of each of the following dried herbs: lavender, sweet marjoram, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, wormwood, peppermint, pennyroyal, lemon balm.
Add the mixture to two liters of water in an enameled pan, boil for ten minutes, then allow it to cool.
Strain through a double layer of cloth and add half a bottle of brandy.
Bottle. Add a little to the bathtub when bathing.

The Beauty Bath

 
Ninon de Lenclos was a celebrated and exceedingly beautiful French courtesan of the seventeenth century.
She died at the age of 85 {rare indeed at that time} and reputedly retained her smooth youthful skin and curves until the end. She attributed this to her special daily herbal bath.
Here is her secret recipe.
1 handful crushed comfrey root
1 handful of dried lavender flowers
1 handful of dried mint leaves
1 handful of dried rosemary leaves
1 handful dried Centifolia rose petals {recommended by famous French herbalist Maurice Messague for its anti-wrinkle properties}
Mix together, tie in a muslin bag and place in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the herbs and leave to steep for 20 minutes. Pour the resulting infusion into a warm bath, squeezing the bag hard to extract all the active principles.

An Eighteenth-Century Sweet Bath

 
This bath is refreshing, antiseptic and deodorizing.
1 cup dried rose petals
1 cup dried orange flowers
1 cup dried Jasminum Officinalis flowers
1 cup dried bay leaves
1 cup dried mint leaves
1 cup pennyroyal leaves
1 cup dried citrus peel {yellow part only}
6 drops essential oil of lavender
6 drops essential oil of musk
6 drops essential oil rose geranium
Mix well and store in a glass jar.
To use, tie 2-3 cups of the mixture in a muslin square, place in a bowl and pour boiling water over the herbs.
Allow to infuse for twenty minutes, remove the herbs squeezing the muslin bag firmly to extract all the herb extract, and add this concentrated infusion to a warm bath.

The Ultimate Tranquility Bath

 
Save this bath until evening.
You will find yourself unwinding wonderfully with this fragrant bath.
1 cup dried lavender flowers
1 cup dried linden flowers
1 cup dried chamomile flowers
1 cup dried valerian root chips
1 cup dried sweet marjoram
1/2 cup dried angelica leaves
1/2 cup dried lemon verbena leaves
Mix well together and use it in the same way as the previous recipe.

Lavender Aromatherapy and Labor Pain

Pain specialists rank the pain of delivery among the most severe in the human experience. To mitigate it, women at term use many treatments, including massage therapy, deep-breathing exercises, hypnotism, acupuncture, pain drugs, and anesthesia. Iranian investigators wondered if aromatherapy with lavender oil {Lavandula angustifolia} might also help.

The essential oil of lavender is a mainstay of aromatherapy. Many studies have shown that inhaling the pleasant fragrance helps treat stress, anxiety, and pain – even at concentrations so low it can barely be detected. Previous studies demonstrated that lavender aromatherapy relieves some of the pain of Caesarean section delivery and episiotomy. But other trials have shown no delivery-related benefits.

120 women pregnant for the first time participated in this study, published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. During labor, they rubbed either water or lavender between their hands. In the herb group, the fragrance filled the birth room. The aromatherapy group reported significantly less labor pain {p<0.001}.

Essential oil of lavender is highly concentrated. A drop or two is all it takes to noticeably reduce most pain. Essential oils are also highly toxic. Ingesting as little as a teaspoon can kill a child. Always keep essential oils out of the reach of children.

 

Aromatherapy: The Sweet Smell of Pain Relief

Lavender essential oil has antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory chemicals; it can soothe the soul and alleviate pain.
Ever thought of using your nose to help ease your pain?
Volatiles in essential oils can easily enter your body via your olfactory system and adjust brain electrical activity to alter your perception of pain.
Clinical aromatherapists commonly use lavender, peppermint, chamomile, and damask rose for pain relief and relaxation.
A report from Nursing Clinics of North America says that massage with lavender relieves pain and enhances the effect of orthodox pain medication. Lavender and chamomile oils are gentle enough to be used with children and, in blends, have relieved children’s pain from HIV, encephalopathy-induced muscle spasm, and nerve pain. Both oils contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic chemicals, and exert sedative, calming action.
Rose essential oil contains pain-reducing eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, and geraniol; but the report’s author suggests it may also alter the perception of pain because it embodies the soothing aromas of the garden.