Lavender is one of the most well-known herbs, especially for decreasing stress and covering up bad smells. Historically, Greeks and Romans used lavender to scent their bathwater, and during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was often strewn on the floors of homes, castles and streets to keep insects away and mask smells. The name comes from the root lavare which means, "to wash."
If you want to use lavender products around your house, the following information will help get you started. There are tons of uses for this herb.
- You can grow lavender plants in your own backyard in a sunny area with well-drained soil. There are over 36 different kinds of lavender plants, most with purple flowers. It is often used in kitchen gardens for hedging.
- You may be familiar with lavender oil. The primary place you will see lavender is as an essential oil to scent products like lotions, soaps, shampoos, massage oils and other such products. Since pure lavender oil is expensive, many such products are scented with lavandin.
- You can also use lavender essential oil with a carrier oil (such as almond oil) to create a homemade massage oil to help decrease stress, ease headaches and help with insomnia. (Never apply essential oil directly to the skin!)
- A few drops of lavender essential oil can be poured into bathwater to decrease stress and help with insomnia, depression and headaches. You can also place a small drop of the essential oil on your temples to help with headaches. If you don't feel like taking a bath, you can pour a few drops of lavender essential oil in some warm water and inhale it.
- Herbalists use lavender essential oil to treat skin conditions such as fungal infections, eczema, acne and various wounds. Always check with your care provider before using this oil for these conditions.
- You can dry lavender from your garden by hanging it by the stems in small bunches. It can make beautiful flower arrangements. It can then be used in sachets to scent clothing and linens in drawers or in pillowcases. Placing a small dried lavender sachet in a pillowcase may help with insomnia. You can also pin the dried flowers directly on clothes in your closet to lightly scent them. Finally, you can use the dried flowers in potpourri.
- Lavender can also be used medicinally as a tea to soothe headaches, and help with nerves. Remember when using lavender as a tea, a little bit goes a long way and you should always check with your care provider first before drinking it.
- You can also cook with lavender. It's often used in Southern European cooking, especially in stews. In the United States, many cooks are using lavender in high-end restaurants as edible decorations on plates, and in salads.
- Remember that when using lavender for cooking, to decrease stress, or as an essential oil, that a little goes a long way.
- For more information about how to use lavender, check out Lavender: How to Grow and Use the Fragrant Herb by Ellen Spector Platt.
Good luck trying out all these uses!