Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wonderful Lavender!

I need some Lavender.

I mean, LOTS of lavender!

Things have been a bit stressful around here. Erika is rocking along at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. She has one more weekend to go and the weather forecast is looking pretty good.

But back to the lavender. Business has been slow, and I know it’s because of all the turmoil going on. Prices are rising, incomes are flat. Tornados are doing a darn good job destroying jobs. And this is where lavender comes in. It is just what the doctor ordered.

We all know that lavender is the best thing in the world for relaxation and stress relief. I’m starting to believe that the ‘Rocky Mountain High’ is in part because of all the lavender that grows so easily up there.

This herb has so many uses. Put a few drops on your pillow or on a handkerchief and it is as good as any sleeping pill – and a lot safer too! I use our Magick Elixir so much because of the lavender in it. It relaxes me while the peppermint and eucalyptus and rosemary go to work on my immune system and helps me to breath easier. Try this…lay down at night after a hard day, breath in some Magic Elixir and notice how fast your whole body just seems to relax.

And better yet, I found that it works on the dog too. Fleas are bad this year, and I just didn’t want to go spend the money for the good flea medicine because we are going to Colorado soon where there aren’t any fleas (maybe because of the lavender growing up there?) so we were browsing online and came across some recipes for aromatherapy flea repellent. One recipe blended peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus and lavender. Oh My! That’s our Magick Elixir! So we put some in a spray bottle with water, shook it up and sprayed our dog as best we could. Mind you, Shadow is 14 years old and has a hard time getting around these days. She has fat tumors, arthritis, she’s overweight and this heat makes breathing hard on her. She stays inside in the AC (and away from outside fleas) as much as possible. I rolled her over and sprayed her belly and legs, then along her back and neck, rubbing the fur up so I could get it into her skin well. Before I was done at least two fleas jumped out! According to the article we read, these oils will not only repel the fleas, but will kill them as well. Sure enough, within 20-30 minutes she was sleeping very soundly, and was very relaxed. So we are keeping her sprayed every day until we leave here and she is enjoying the mellowness it gives her. It works with ridding lice also, and can be used in the treatment of ringworms.

Lavender has a well-established tradition as a folk remedy, and its scent is still familiar to almost everyone. It was used to ‘comfort the stomach’ but above all as a cosmetic water, and insect repellent, to scent linen, and as a reviving yet soothing oil. Generally regarded as the most versatile essence therapeutically.

We’ve long know lavender is also good for bee and wasp stings, and other insect bites. Rub a little lavender on any sting or bite and the itching and pain will go away within 60 seconds. Lavender is a universal oil because it balances the body and is known to work wherever there is a need. It is probably the number one oil anyone should have in their home or traveling medicine chest. It works on abscesses, acne, allergies, athlete’s feet and fungal infections. Boils, bruises, burns, cold sores, cuts. It is good on the skin for just about all your needs.

Use lavender by itself, or mix with a few drops of peppermint and use as a headache relief. We have had several people tell us it is the only thing that helps them with their migraines.

Lavender is safe to use neat – or straight from the bottle. Most essential oils aren’t recommended to use this way, but lavender is the exception. Lavender is considered one of the safest of oils, but because of it’s effect on the uterus it shouldn’t be used in the first 3 months of pregnancy. Generally it is considered a non dermal toxin.

True Lavender is also known as lavendula angustifolia or lavendula officinalis. This is considered the best lavender. There is also the variations Spike lavender and Lavindin. Spike lavender is not as delicate and is more camphor-ish. Lavindin is a hybrid of True lavender and Spike lavender, and is cheaper but not as potent as True lavender. It takes about 150 pounds or more of lavender buds to make one pound of essential oil. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh flowering tops and an absolute and concrete are also produced by solvent extraction in smaller quantities. The oil is a colorless to pale yellow liquid and the absolute is a dark green viscous liquid.

Lavender is an evergreen woody shrub, up to m (3ft) tall, with pale green, narrow, linear leaves and flowers on blunt spikes of a beautiful violet-blue color. The whole plant is highly aromatic. It is indigenous to the Mediterranean, and is now grown all over the world. Most of the commercially produced oil comes from the mountains of France and Spain. You can find lavender festivals and celebrations all over the world, including the Blanco Lavender Festival in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

The word lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, which means ‘to wash’. English and Dutch: occupational name for a washerman or launderer, Old French, Middle Dutch lavendier (Late Latin lavandarius, an agent derivative of lavanda ‘washing’, ‘things to be washed’). The term was applied especially to a worker in the wool industry who washed the raw wool or rinsed the cloth after fulling. There is no evidence for any direct connection with the word for the plant (Middle English, Old French lavendre). However, the etymology of the plant name is obscure; it may have been named in ancient times with reference to the use of lavender oil for cleaning or of the dried heads of lavender in perfuming freshly washed clothes.

You can cook with lavender and you can find many recipes. It adds a unexpected flavor to any meal. You can use the flowers, leaves or stems, but the buds are the most delicate. Always use clean, pesticide free lavender when cooking. You can find organic lavender buds on several online merchants. There is more information at Joy of Lavender and at Purple Haze Lavender and Whats Cooking America.

Lavender history goes back over 2500 years. The plant was sold and traded by the Greeks around 600 BC to the Hyeres Islands off the coast of France. The first recorded arrival in North America was by the English Pilgrims in the 1600’s. The Egyptians used Lavender for mummification and made stills to extract the oils. They made perfumes and traces of lavender were found in urns in the tomb of Tutankhamen. Solid cones of unguents was placed on the heads of wealthy men and women and as they unguents melted, it would perfume their entire body.

Queen Victoria loved lavender so much she had it used to wash the floors and furniture. Sachets were used in the linens and cloths. This became a very fashionable fragrance among all the ladies at that time and because of this lavender is commonly associated with the Victorian Age by most people.

During the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, bunches of lavender were tied to each wrist to protect against infection. The grave robbers used to wash in Four Thieves Vinegar, which contained lavender. They rarely become infected. Another source says the Four Thieves went into the homes of the plague victims. They said they oiled themselves with a mixture of equal amounts of lavender, absinthe (wormwood), rue, sage, mint and rosemary mixed in vinegar.

In folklore lavender is frequently associated with love, but also with protection, sleep, chastity, longevity, purification, happiness and peace. On St. Luke’s’ Day young maidens would sip on a lavender tea and sing “St Luke, St Luke be kind to me, In my dreams let me my true love see.”.

Lavender is associated with the Heart Chakra.

Traditionally, a cross of lavender was hung on the door to safeguard against evil and children would wear lavender on their shirts to avert the evil eye.

Lavender is called blue magic, and lavender is ruled by the planet and God Mercury, The Great Communicator. This is why we mix lavender with sandalwood for our Virgo oil. But it is ruled by the element air (the element of thought) and is masculine – or yang – in nature.

At midsummer, mix chamomile, lavender, mugwort and rose petals to call up the sprites, fairies, brownies and elves.

For security and peacefulness, mix basil, frankincense, lavender, lemon balm, rue and thyme. Wear such an oil mixture for security and peacefulness, or mix the oils and herbs in a powder incense and burn to induce sleep and rest, and scatter about lavender buds about the home to maintain peace.

Lavender is carried to see ghosts. Place lavender under your pillow while thinking of your wish. Do this just prior to retiring for the night. In the morning, if you have dreamt of anything relating to your wish, it will come true. If your dream was unconnected with your wish, then your wish will not manifest.

If you are one of those lavender addicts, then Joys of Lavender and Discover Lavender are two places you want to visit.

And us, of course!

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Larry and Kerry (and Shadow, too)
We are flea-free in Colorado because of the air pressure at altitude.
Basically, Shadow's hitchhikers will self destruct in a week or so.