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Health Benefits of Lavender
Lavender for Health and Healing
Lavender for Health
Among all the herbs used in herbal medicine, lavender - from the flowers to lavender essential oil - is used for many reasons. Since ancient times, this woody perennial herb has been harvested for its beautiful, fragrant purple flowers. Lavender essential oil has been used in perfumes throughout the world. Its medicinal qualities are also highly prized.
You can purchase lavender essential oil at health food stores or online outlets. A few drops go a long way. For those seeking dried lavender flowers, companies such as Frontier Herbs offers dried lavender in bulk.
You can also grow your own lavender from seed. All of the major seed companies sell lavender. While it's a bit tricky to start from seed, once it germinates and takes root in the garden it can quickly grow into handsome silvery-green plants with abundant purple blossoms. A side benefit is that the flowers attract butterflies too, making it useful to attract pollinating insects to the garden.
For natural health and beauty, use lavender essential oil as an antibacterial agent and as a cure for insomnia. While essentials oils must be distilled from the flowers themselves, you can use dried lavender flowers to perfume a room or create a sleep pillow for insomnia.
Lavender Essential Oil Antibacterial Properties
An article on lavender on the U.S. Library of Medicine, published by the National Institute of Health, indicates that early research shows evidence of lavender's antibacterial properties. As with almost all herbal remedies, the site goes on to say that more research is needed. Folklore and historical use indicate lavender essential oil as an antibacterial agent.
Lavender oil is generally used with something called a carrier oil or in a solution containing water and another herb. Some easy uses of lavender essential oil as an antibacterial agent include:
- Boil treatment: To make a hot compress to treat boils, pour very hot water into a bowl and add 2 drops of lavender essential oil and 2 drops of tea tree oil, another powerful antimicrobial essential oil. Soak a washcloth in the solution and press on the affected area. If the water is very hot wait a little bit until it cools.
- Acne: Lavender oil acne treatments are available commercially, or you can use a few drops of lavender essential oil in water to splash onto acne prone skin.
Many commercial soap companies such as Yardley's of London and others sell lavender infused soaps. Instead of using triclosan, an antibacterial agent that can harm helpful bacteria too, why not try lavender, a natural substance?
Before using lavender oil, you may want to conduct a patch test to make sure you're not allergic to it. Simply put a few dabs inside the crook of your elbow and wait about 24 hours. If no rash, redness or irritation develops, it is probably okay to use.
Remember that this information is for educational purposes only...for health advice, please see your doctor! Also see your doctor if, after using any herbal product, you develop health problems. And do tell your health care provider about any herbs you're using - he or she needs to know, since some can interact with medications.
Lavender for Stress Relief & Sleep
Lavender is also a time honored cure for insomnia and a stress relief herb. Lavender essential oils are used as an aromatherapy treatment. Simply place a few drops of lavender essential oil on a cotton ball and sniff.
To use lavender for insomnia, purchase a lavender scented sachet or pillow. The scent is supposed to be relaxing. To make a little lavender aromatherapy tool of your own, take that cotton ball again, place a few drops of essential oil on it, and leave it on a dish on the night table. Use a dish to protect the finish on the table from the oil!
If you grow your own lavender, you can harvest and dry the flowers to use as potpourri. The sweet, delicate fragrance perfumes a room. Its stress relieving properties are also useful when used as dried flowers. A sleep sachet or pillow can be made from simple cotton fabric sewn together and stuffed with dried flowers. Such a sachet can also be used as a traditional clothes sachet, tucked into a dresser drawer to gently perfume clothing.