We've all seen those beautiful images on Instagram with women languidly meandering through lavender fields, but did you know that apart from looking gorgeous and having a distinctive aroma loved by actual real life Queens for hundreds of years, lavender has been used for thousands of years for health and beauty purposes.
Egyptians made perfumes using lavender 2500 years ago and when Tutenkhamun's tomb was open explorers apparently could still smell the scent of this unique flower.
The Romans LOVED lavender and realising it was a natural antiseptic, used it to heal battle wounds, as an insect repellent and to wash with. Get ready for a cool fact - some people believe the English word lavender is through to derive from "lavage", the Latin word for "wash" (although others think it's from the ancient name for lavender, Livendula, which refers to the bluish colour of the flowers.)
The Romans also cooked with lavender, made lavender soaps and used the flower to scent their environments. Meanwhile the ancient Greeks used it to treat insomnia and backache.
In England in the 1500s lavender was popular as a perfume and people had already started recognising the health benefits of this beautiful plant. Queen Elizabeth I used to drink lavender tea to cure her migraines. During the The Great Plague of 1665 lavender was used in a bid to protect and cure people.So how can we use lavender today for health and wellbeing?
- For Sleep. Use lavender bath products, electric diffusers, pillow sprays, teas or essential oils to help you get longer, better quality sleep. Or you could just lay a sprig of fresh lavender or a sachet of the buds under your pillow or tie it to your bed post and enjoy the distinctive scent as you drift off to sleep. Research from 2015 showed that people who used lavender aromatherapy felt more refreshed on waking
- For Anxiety. A 2010 study of people with anxiety disorders found that orally administered lavender helped them sleep more deeply while another study the same year compared lavender capsules to the anti-anxiety medication lorazepam and concluded that the effects of lavender on anxiety were comparable to the prescription drug.
- For Headaches and Migraine. Making the most of the calming effects of lavender could be enough to prevent or reduce headaches and migraines. Teas, essential oils and scented body products with actual lavender in them can help, especially with stress related headaches.
- Skin Conditions. Lavender contains two inflammation-fighting compounds called linalool and linalyl acetate. Studies suggests that these may provide relief for skin issues, such as exzema, psoriasis and dermatitis as well as episodes of itching and rashes. This is because lavender has anti fungal properties and can reduce inflammation. Drink teas containing lavender or use topical lavender.
- Menstrual and Menopause. Sleep issues often come along with PMS, perimenopause and menopause and we've already mentioned lavender's proven success in aiding longer, better quality sleep. Add in the anxiety-busting, mood-boosting, calming properties and anyone suffering through hormonal issues will see why lavender is a good shout for these. Breathing in the scent of lavender may soothe menstrual cramping, especially during the first three days of your menstrual cycle apparently.