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Lovely Lavender- The Health and Recipe Benefits

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to a local lavender festival where every vendor, baked good, sandwich, and craft heralded the beauty of this multi-purposed purple-hued herb.

Over the course of the afternoon, I learned about all the different uses of lavender. Lavender is much more than an aromatic scent that is added to shampoos and soaps. In fact, it has been long used for medicinal purposes as well as a kitchen staple.

lavender 

Here is a list of just a few of the things you can do with lavender:

Relieve stress: If you’ve ever taken a deep breath of fresh lavender, your senses are immediately swept away by its soothing fragrance and its almost instant ability to caste a wave of peacefulness over you. It should come as no surprise then that many aromatherapists use lavender essential oil as a way to calm nervous conditions like anxiety or stress.  But you don’t have to make an aromatherapy appointment to reap the calming effects of lavender. Burn a lavender candle or add a few drops of lavender essential oil into a carrier oil like olive oil and apply a fingerprint-sized drop onto your wrists or on your clavicle. Take a deep breath and relax.

lavender sugar cookiesBake with it: The next time you are baking a batch of cookies or shortbread, add a tablespoon of dried lavender leaves to your batter. Your cookies specked with soft purple leaves will not only look extra beautiful, but everyone will be begging you for the secret ingredient that turned your basic sugar cookies into an aromatic culinary delight.

Ease skin ailments: If you suffer from eczema or acne, research shows that lavender oil has antiseptic and antifungal properties making it a favorite natural treatment option for skin disorders, scars, cuts, sunburns and psoriasis.

Treat hair loss: In one study, people with alopecia areata, a kind of disease that is characterized by patchy hair loss, those who massaged their scalps with lavender oil  had significant hair re-growth in comparison to those who didn’t use any oil.

Catch some ZZZs: Getting a good night’s rest is a privilege that far too many of us don’t enjoy. Rather than relying on over-the-counter sleeping aids, studies have shown that having a massage with lavender essential oil may improve sleep quality, lift spirits and contribute to a solid’s night rest.

Bug Off!: With summer in full swing, mosquitoes and other pesky insects can ruin an evening’s barbeque or a star-gazing night. To naturally protect your skin, add a few drops of lavender oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil and apply to your skin. The insect-fighting magic bullet in lavender comes from the compound, geraniol, which helps to ward off biting bugs. But since lavender does increase skin’s photosensitivity, make sure you stay in the shade.

Relax sore muscles: Whether you pushed yourself too hard at the gym or pulled up too many weeds in your garden, rather than popping a few over-the-counter pain relievers, try massaging lavender oil onto your achy joints to ease pain. Just the smell of the lavender oil alone, will help to take your mind off of your tired muscles.

Here’s one last tidbit before you go out and purchase lavender: “Lavender” comes from the Latin word, “lavare,” which means to wash. The Romans first used lavender to scent bath water and they believed that this ancient herb was also able to replenish the skin.

Do a bit of research around your own town. Lavender festivals are popping up more and more during the summer months in part due to the beauty and many uses of this cherished purple herb.

July 25th, 2008

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