Learn to Love Lavender

Learn to Love Lavender

From ancient Greece to modern times, lavender has become one of the most common and widely used cultivated herbs. And it's no wonder, because it's one of the most versatile, too. All forms of lavender -- essential oil, dried or fresh flowers, aromatic hydrosol, and tea -- are safe to use on all skin types, even young children's delicate skin.

Grow a patch of lavender. Plant a few mounds in a sunny spot around a garden bench or large stone or log. On a hot summer's day, have a seat in your lavender patch. Brush your hands against the plant and inhale the delightful scent wafting through the breeze. Lavender is recommended for people who experience constant stress and overstimulation and find it difficult to relax and unwind.

The essential oil of these lovely, purple, highly fragrant flowers can soothe your soul without sapping your energy. To enhance concentration and promote mental clarity, place a drop on your wrist, the palms of your hands, or the nape of your neck and breathe deeply.

Lavender is a potent antiseptic. Add 2 drops of essential oil of lavender to 1 teaspoon of soybean, almond, olive, or hazelnut oil or aloe vera juice and apply the mixture directly to burns, sunburns, abrasions, insect stings, or inflamed pimples to cleanse and disinfect.

Make a skin-softening bath sachet. Combine 1/4 cup dried lavender flowers, 1/4 cup instant, powdered whole milk, and 1/4 cup oatmeal. Place into a 3-by-5-inch muslin drawstring bag. Toss the bag into the bathwater so that the ingredients can release their skin-pampering properties. Rub the sachet over your entire body to cleanse and hydrate dry skin.

Improve your mood. Purchase a bottle of lavender aromatic hydrosol -- a watery by-product of essential oil distillation -- and spray a fine mist onto your face and hair, and into the surrounding air. Inhale the vapors. The chemical components of the lavender plant have the ability to alter the emotions by influencing the sense of smell, which triggers the region of the brain that deals with memory and mood.

Old Fashioned Lavender Vinegar Sprinkle a dash of this fragrant vinegar onto a salad for a delectable departure from your ordinary dressing, or use 1 part vinegar to 8 parts water as a facial toner or hair rinse. This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of vinegar.

You will need: 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried lavender flowers and leaves 2 teaspoons lemon zest 2 cups raw apple cider vinegar

To make: Place the lavender and lemon zest into a clean quart-size canning jar and pour in the unheated vinegar. Cover the top with plastic wrap, then screw on the lid and store in a dark, cool place for two to four weeks. Shake daily. Strain the vinegar, bottle in a decorative container, and use as you would ordinary vinegar.

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