Lavender is perhaps one of the most useful and versatile herbs grown today. Popular among tea drinkers, lavender is renowned for its ability to calm and relax the body and mind. It has far more uses than just tea. In fact, it has applications in virtually all areas of life, including health and beauty, medicine, spirituality, cooking and home decor. It's useful in both its unprocessed form and as essential oils and dried-flower preparations.
There are more ways to consume lavender than in tea. According to chefs at the website What's Cooking America, lavender is becoming increasingly popular in fine-dining establishments. The edible flowers are making their way into cookies and salads. They're even used in meat preparations. When cooking with lavender, it's essential to use food-grade lavender. Often the plant is treated with chemicals that enhance its color or preserve its scent, and treated plants can be indistinguishable from fresh plants.
Lavender is popular in home decor because it's both beautiful and fragrant. The delicate purple flowers contrast well with the silvery-green stems. People use it in their homes in a variety of ways. Purists may hang simple dried plants around their homes or scatter the flowers in potpourris. Others may incorporate lavender into intricate floral arrangements, wreaths or even framed artwork. It's often used in arts and crafts, such as decorative stationary or display-only decorative bathroom soaps.
Sleep and Relaxation
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the calming, relaxing effects of lavender have been clinically demonstrated. To use lavender for relaxation, consider several options. First, add fresh lavender flowers to tea or purchase prepared lavender tea. Second, lavender flowers, and the essential oils made from them, can be dispersed throughout the home. Create a sachet of lavender flowers to keep under your pillow or add a few drops of lavender oil to your pillowcase. Wear lavender oil as perfume to enjoy its benefits throughout the day. Place dried lavender flowers in dishes like potpourri to disperse the scent throughout your home.
Aside from acting as a sedative, lavender has other medicinal uses. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, people with alopecia who used lavender oil on areas of hair loss experienced significantly higher rates of regrowth than those who did not use the oil. Lavender is also used in skin preparations for treating fungal infections, eczema, cuts and bruises, and even acne. When used as an inhalation additive to oxygen, postoperative patients reported less pain. This could be because of lavender's ability to slow the nervous system and relax patients who use it.
Health and Beauty Products
Perhaps the most common use of lavender is in health and beauty products. It's routinely included in hair rinses, where it's said to rejuvenate the scalp and ease itching and dandruff. It's credited with having skin-soothing properties and is used in lotions and creams by people who rely on its thousand-year-old reputation for soothing minor skin complaints. It's also made into soaps and included in high-end cosmetics, as much for its scent as for its healing properties.