Lavender has a soothing smell, reminiscent of the sun and sea. But the purple herb also has more properties: it promotes relaxation, has a calming effect and supports sound sleep.
The famous Paracelsus had already praised lavender as being a tried and tested sedative. He said it was "a sophisticated medicinal product which is effective against disorders of the head, brain and nerves due to the fact that it strengthens, refreshes and warms the same". Herbal baths were very popular at that time. A lavender bath was said to be a tonic for the nerves. People told each other that it drives away bad thoughts, relaxes overstrained nerves, cures itchy skin and warms the body.
Highly fragrant lavender not only served to bathe or wash the living but also the dead. When the tomb of the Egyptian child pharaoh, Tutankhamun, was opened in 1922, the exavators were struck by an intense lavender fragrance. It was intended to help the deceased to come to rest, in order to be refreshed and purified for a promising new beginning.
A wreath of lavender creates a relaxing atmosphere in the house. Lavender incense is also said to help people find inner peace. It is claimed that the scent makes it easier to move on when you are stuck in a rut.
Lavender has a calming effect on the central nervous system, helps in case of inner restlessness, as well as alleviating nervous stomach pain and digestive problems. External application has also proven effective against inflammation of the sciatic nerve and the trigeminal nerve, and in case of ear infection as it relieves the throbbing pain. It performs true miracles in case of insect bites, burns and skin scarring. As a bath lotion, it has a blood circulation-enhancing and relaxing effect, whereas packed in herbal cushions, it helps people to let go in the evening and to drift off into dreamland. A drop of essential oil on your pillow helps you to sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed.
Lavender is a hardy perennial subshrub which can grow up to one metre tall. It is native to the Mediterranean region, but it has long spread to all gardens and parks in the whole of Southern Europe. It branches out strongly in rod-shaped, greyish green, upright twigs. From there sprout the lance-shaped, greenish silver leaves which look like needles because they are slightly curled up. The eye-catching bluish purple flowers surround the stem in a circular pattern spanning several levels. Lavender's soothing, healing powers lie in the essential oil, the concentration of which is highest in the flower buds. That is the reason why it is picked shortly before going into full bloom.
Tea to alleviate various ailments
Pour 2 dl of hot water over one to two teaspoons of lavender flowers per cup, cover and allow to steep for eight minutes. Drink one cup three times a day after meals. Particularly helpful in case of nervous stomach ache, irritable bowel syndrome and restlessness.
If the tea is not effective enough, try using the alcoholic mother tincture, of which you should take 25 drops three times a day after meals. The greatest and quickest effect is achieved by taking a drop of essential lavender oil together with a sugar cube or some honey.
To do so, add a handful of lavender flowers to one litre of olive oil and allow to stand for two to three weeks. Shake well from time to time. Finally, filter the oil through a sieve and pour it into a sterilised bottle. The oil improves the flavour of any salad and adds a special note to pasta dishes. It improves digestion, calms the nerves and enriches the senses.
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