Humans have used lavender as a culinary, cosmetic, aromatherapeutic, and hygienic herb for at least several thousand years. In the Bible, Mary uses lavender (“very expensive”) to anoint Jesus’ feet. In ancient Egypt, embalmers used lavender in mummification. Roman bathhouses often scented the water with lavender flowers, and women throughout the Mediterranean—where it originally grew—used it in hair oils, perfumes, and makeup. It has become so ubiquitous as a fragrance in cleaning products and baths that the name “lavender” itself comes from the Latin word for washing – lavare.
It turns out the ancients were right about lavender. It’s a valuable herb that you can use to improve your health, sleep, cooking, baths, and overall quality of life by incorporating it into your daily routines and programs.
Breathe in the aroma
Mash fresh lavender between your fingers and take a long hit, or rub lavender oil on your temples for a calming dose of aromatherapy stress relief. If you’re not sensitive to it, you can apply a little oil or fresh lavender to your upper lip, giving you an even drop of the soothing lavender scent throughout the day. Lavender aroma relieves anxiety and mental tension.
drinking lavender tea
Although lavender is usually enjoyed for its aroma, it is also absolutely harmless and, as a tea, its effect is more reminiscent of chamomile. Like chamomile, lavender tea improves sleep, reduces anxiety, and may even lower depression scores.
To prepare lavender tea, steep a handful of fresh lavender flowers (or two grams of dried flowers) in boiling water for five to ten minutes. Strain and enjoy.
This is just as effective as chamomile to promote sleep and help calm jaded nerves. You can even combine the two for synergistic effects.
Lavender oil is a beautiful, chemical-free alternative to perfumes and colognes, especially when paired with a woodier scent like sandalwood. Dab a little on your neck or wrists to smell clean and light.
To make it last longer, dilute the oil with the fat of your choice. MCT oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or even beef tallow are excellent mediums.
You can also soak the fresh or dried lavender flowers in the fat with a water bath to warm it up and speed up the extraction; load before it cools down.
Take a Roman lavender bath
The Romans added fresh lavender to their public baths. They ruled much of the known world for well over a thousand years, so they knew a thing or two. Adding either oil or fresh lavender buds to a hot bath makes an already relaxing bath even more relaxing in two ways – topical absorption and aromatic absorption.
Use lavender before bed for deeper sleep
Tie fresh flowers together and tuck them into your pillowcase or just leave it next to your bed when you sleep. You can also do an inhalation before bed. Lavender also works well in a bag, small pillowcase, or reusable eye pillow.
Lavender helps you sleep better, faster and deeper.
Topical lavender to soothe the skin
Is your skin burned, chafed or irritated? Add some lavender oil to your moisturizer or a water spray bottle and apply liberally to your skin or mist. You can also soak fresh lavender in a carrier oil and then apply it to irritated, burned, or chafed skin.
Make sweet, freshly scented laundry
Instead of using dryer sheets laden with chemicals, tie a bunch of lavender flowers in a cloth and toss them in the dryer as you wash. Be sure to shake out your clothes after drying to remove any residue from the lavender. You must replace the lavender between drying cycles.
Use lavender on cuts and scrapes
Lavender oil applied to wounds can actually improve and speed up wound healing. Add a few drops of carrier oil (coconut, olive, avocado) and apply to sores as they appear. Lavender also has antiseptic properties, so the lavender oil blend can be a pleasant alternative to more painful antiseptic sprays (a great option for kids).
Use lavender on your scalp
When applied to the scalp, lavender can stimulate hair follicle growth. It also shows anti-dandruff activity.
An easy way to make a lavender “shampoo” is to add a few drops of lavender oil to a single raw egg yolk. Apply to wet hair and massage in. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse.
Another option is to steep lavender the way you would to make tea; allow to cool and use daily as a conditioner until the scales disappear.
Cook with lavender
Lavender adds a unique floral accent to many dishes. It goes particularly well with lamb, grilled fruit and fatter cuts of meat. A really nice way to use it is to grill peach halves wrapped in bacon, then finish with fresh lavender flowers, crushed black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Another option is to add lavender to your smoker or grill when preparing lamb; the fragrant smoke gives a powerful effect.
Be warned: a bit of culinary lavender will do the trick.
As it turns out, lavender is much more than just a pleasant scent.
About the author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather of the primal food and lifestyle movement, and New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, in which he explains how he combines the keto diet with a primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is also the author of numerous other books, including The Primal Blueprint, which in 2009 is credited with accelerating the growth of the Primal/Paleo movement and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark founded Primal Kitchen, a real food company that sells Primal/ Paleo, Keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen clips.
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