Herb of The Week – Lavender April 5, 2014 16:58

            This week, we'll be taking a look into the world of Lavender. The Latin name for Lavender is Lavandula angustifolia. It's other names include: Alhucema, Common Lavender, English Lavender, French Lavender, Garden Lavender, Huile Essentielle de Lavande, Lavanda, Lavande, Lavande à Feuilles Étroites, Lavande Anglaise, Lavande Commune, Lavande Fine, Lavande Officinale, Lavande Vraie, Lavandula, Lavandula angustifolia, True Lavender.

 

            Lavender has an ancient relationship with the peoples of the world. Documentation of its use goes back over 2,500 years when Egyptians used it in mummification, and in perfumes. Romans used lavender for cooking, incense, and to scent the waters in their baths. It is actually from the Romans that lavender gets its name, derived from the Latin word “lavare” which means “to wash”. During the Medieval and Renaissance periods of Europe it was strewn over the stone floors of castles as a disinfectant and deodorant.

            Lavender is a heavily branched short shrub that grows to a height of about 24 inches. Its broad rootstock bears woody branches with upright, rod like, leafy, green shoots. A silvery down covers the gray green narrow leaves, which are oblong and tapered, attached directly at the base, and curled spirally. The oil in lavender's small, blue violet flowers gives the herb its fragrant scent. The flowers are arranged in spirals of 6 - 10 blossoms, forming interrupted spikes above the foliage. Lavender is native to the mountains of the Mediterranean where it grows in sunny, stony places. Today, it flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States.

           

            The main effects of lavender are soothing and calming the mind and body. It aids with sleeplessness, restlessness, depression, and anxiety. Lavender also helps heal minor skin irritations, minor burns, nausea, headaches, sprains, and is used to repel insects because of its strong odor.

            Lavender shows up in just about every aspect of the bath and beauty world, but medicinally lavender is usually taken by tea, aromatherapy, tinctures, rubbing a dilution of lavender essential oil on the skin, or ingesting the whole flowers in a dish.

            Ailments which indicate treatment with lavender include: Depression, insomnia, migraines, colic, headache, hair loss, loss of appetite, nausea, toothache, acne, flatulence, sunburns, small wounds, minor burns, and insect repellent.

 

            The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

            Lavender is not recommended to be taken if pregnant, or breast feeding. Do not take lavender if you are taking antidepressants; taking a narcotic; or if you are going into surgery. Lavender is also not recommended for prolonged use in males, especially children.

 

Fact Breakdown:

 

            Latin Name:   Lavandula angustifolia

 

            Medicinal Actions: Antidepressant, Analgesic, Antiseptic, Cicatrizant, Expectorant, Nervine, Vulnerary

 

            Indications: Depression, insomnia, migraines, colic, headache, hair loss, loss of appetite, nausea, toothache, acne, flatulence, small wounds, minor burns, insect repellent.

 

            Contraindications:  While pregnant or breast-feeding; concurrently with prescription drugs or psychiatric medications; going into surgery.

  

Links:

 

University Of Maryland - Lavender

 

              http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender

 

Lets Do Lavender - Lavender

 

              http://www.letsdolavender.com/about.htm

 

~ Lavender Lemonade ~

Ingredients:

¼ cup lavender flowers

2 cups boiling water

¾ cup sugar

8 lemons

5 cups cold water / as needed

1 tray of ice cubes

Directions:

Place ice cubes into a 2 quart pitcher.

Place the lavender into a bowl, and pour boiling water over it.

Allow to steep for about 10 minutes, then strain out the lavender and discard.

Mix the sugar into the hot lavender water, then pour into the pitcher with the ice.

Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the pitcher, getting as much juice as you can.

Top off the pitcher with cold water, and stir.

Taste, and adjust lemon juice or sugar if desired.

Pour into tall glasses, pull up a lawn chair and a good book, and relax!

 

Serves Six