Fragrant and relaxing, lavender is a grandmother's remedy with many beneficial properties
Just imagining lavender scented expanses infuses peace and serenity. This plant, in fact, is immediately associated with scent, calm and rest. Its fragrance is unmistakable and its properties are very many, as well as its uses. Among the natural remedies, lavender is the must-have to always keep at hand.
Plant, cultivation and flowering
Lavender (botanical name: Lavandula augustifolia) is part of the Lamiaceae family. What makes it unique and curative is a mix of essential oil and super-performing active ingredients for relaxation and well-being of both body and soul.
The lavender plant can also be grown in pots (or in the garden). It can be sown between April and June and can be seen blooming lush and fragrant already in July. However, it is a plant that needs eight hours of sunshine a day.
Once the flowers have been collected, you can dry them and store them to prepare infusions or pack small bags with which to perfume the linen.
Since they contain linalool, limonene, cineole, camphor, alpha-terpineol, beta-ocimene, tannins and flavonoids (very powerful antioxidants), ursolic acid and various bitter substances, lavender flowers are widely used as a natural remedy for well-being.
Here are in which cases and how this wonderful plant can be used.
Lavender for anxiety and insomnia
The active ingredients contained in lavender flowers exert a recognized sedative and calming action on the nervous system. For this reason, lavender can be used successfully both to calm anxious states (and decrease stress), and to promote a good rest.
How is anti-anxiety lavender used? One of the first ways is definitely the infusion. On the market you can find ready-made preparations of relaxing infusions based on lavender flowers (in sachets, therefore very practical) but usually they also have other medicinal plants among the ingredients indicated for relaxation. If you want to try pure lavender infusion, you can have a small bag of lavender flowers prepared in a herbalist's shop or, again, use lavender grown in pots on the balcony.
Lavender flower tea is prepared by infusing two teaspoons of lavender flowers in a cup of boiling water for about ten minutes. Then it is filtered and drunk plain or sweetened. In the latter case, it is better to use honey (perhaps lavender honey) or stevia.
You can drink this tea several times a day, especially if you are going through a tense period. And, of course, in the evening before going to sleep.
If you suffer from insomnia, you will find lavender on the market in the form of practical drops (often together with lemon balm and chamomile) to be taken before going to sleep or several times a day. A tip from grandmother to rest better? Put a few drops of lavender essential oil on the pillow before going to bed.
In addition, a study published in the scientific journal Phytomedicine showed that lavender oil titrated in its two active ingredients linalool and linalyl-acetyl, is truly an effective anti-anxiety and can become an excellent supplement to pharmacological or psychological treatments. However, in this case, it is not the essential oil that is usually purchased in a bottle but a special medicinal preparation.
Lavender essential oil for aromatherapy
Another way to take advantage of the anti-stress properties of lavender is to use its essential oil. You can buy it anywhere, from herbalists to drugstores. The important thing is that it is 100% pure. Just smell the bottle to immediately perceive a certain relaxation and a feeling of serenity.
Aromatherapy, in fact, uses lavender essential oil a lot as a relaxing and regenerating agent. To treat yourself to homemade aromatherapy pampering, put a few drops of lavender essential oil in a special essence diffuser. Or, use the oil in the bath water, preferably in the evening before going to sleep or when you feel anxious or overwhelmed by stress.
You can also add the essential oil to body cream or to a base oil such as sweet almond oil and use it for relaxing and decontracting self-massages. In fact, a lavender oil massage or a concentrated lavender infusion wrap can help you even if you suffer from sciatica or lower back inflammation.
Lavender for headaches and colds
Lavender is an excellent sedative, which is why it is also used in the treatment of headaches. If you suffer from tension headaches or migraines, try applying a couple of drops of lavender essential oil to your forehead, being careful not to touch your eyes. Or again, sip the infusion and take it in the form of drops.
The same if you have a bad cold or a fever, you can also use it to make fumigating benefits and help you clear your nose: boil the water and add a few drops of lavender essential oil along with a little baking soda. Then proceed with the fumigations.
If children have colds and coughs, you can pour a few drops of essential oil into the special humidifier tray. And if the little ones are agitated or sleep badly, add lavender oil to the evening bath.
Lavender for external use: antibacterial and healing
Did you know that topical lavender boasts amazing properties? In fact, these fragrant flowers exert a cleansing, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, healing and even antibacterial action.
You find lavender already in the form of creams to be applied on the affected parts (wounds, sores and irritations), as a cosmetic cream or cleanser for skin, body and hair, but you can also prepare DIY lavender infusion packs to use if you have skin irritated or dull. Or again, as a mouthwash after brushing your teeth to reduce irritation of the oral cavity.
Finally, if you apply the essential oil on insect bites, you will immediately feel the benefit with a reduction in both the inflammatory state and the itching sensation.