Recently, I read that vanilla was likely the most recognizable scent in western culture and that posed the question: what other plant scents have formed an aromatic memory within our culture? Surely, lavender fits into the top five.
Lavender has an ancient relationship with humans. The Romans used it extensively to perfume their bathing waters and in fact, the origin of the word lavender is believed to be derived from the Latin word lavare, meaning ‘to wash.’ Its strong floral scent appealed to most people and by the Middle Ages it was becoming a common plant in estate and home gardens. Even the hardnosed Pilgrims could not resist its appeal: a diary reports that it was one of several living herbs brought to America.
Lavender also has a record of medicinal use. Over the centuries many actions and treatments have been assigned to lavender. I enjoy reading about historical uses for herbs and thought I would share some favorite “suggestions” for lavender.
According to the distinguished 16th century herbalist Culpepper: when applied to the temples or nostrils, lavender water or ointment would “reduce the trembling and passions of the heart, and faintings and swoonings…”
And for the more adventurous: lavender “ is good also against the bitings of serpents, mad-dogs and other venomous creature…”
But modern research supports some of these claims. Lavender ‘s essential oil can assist with fighting bacterial and fungal infections. When taken as a tea it can help expel gas, soothe acid indigestion and relieve nausea. Lavender is best known for its restorative affects on the nervous system, both calming nervousness and restoring energy when fatigue sets in. In fact, in A Modern Herbal, the author claims that the captive lions and tigers of the zoo would become docile under the influence of lavender water!
Lavender is an important commodity in the world of herbal commerce. Thousands of acres are devoted to lavender cultivation throughout the world, primarily for the exquisite essential oil that is used in perfumes, cosmetic products and now, even household cleaning products. Numerous lavender farms in the Pacific Northwest hold annual festivals, offering unique culinary, cosmetic, and decorative lavender products.
I also read that past European royalty held lavender in high esteem: Queen Victoria requested that the scent be consistently present throughout the castle; Charles VI, Emperor of France, had his favorite seating cushions stuffed with lavender blossoms and not to be outdone, Napoleon, is said to have used 60 bottles of lavender water per month, pouring it over his shoulders and neck each time that he washed.
That inspired two of my gift collections: The Royal Spa Collection and The Lavender Foot Spa. Both collections feature organic lavender products from small businesses.
These collections are perfect for the queen (or Emperor!) in your life. Order now to ensure a timely delivery for Valentine’s Day.