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Lavender Part 1: A Historical Fixture of Medicinal Herbs

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A Brief History

There is documented usage of lavender dating back thousands of years throughout the world. Dating back to 3150 BC, ancient Egyptians incorporated the lavender plant into healing balms and perfume.  Ancient Pharos and the social elite used lavender unguents cosmetically and in embalming practices. Urns of what appears to be Lavender have been found in the ancient tombs in the Valley of the Kings, most famously, King Tutenkamen's.

Fast forward to the 5th and 4th centuries BC when Athens and Ancient Greece would push social progression to new heights with many discoveries and inventions that are still widely used today (think alarm clock, geography, and the practice of medicine!) Building on the aromatic uses of lavender passed down from the Egyptians, it was Theophrastus who studied many plants and recorded their healing uses. In his landmark book, Scents Concerning Odors, Theophrastus first noted how lavender plants assisted patients with stomach discomfort and headaches. 

Dioscorides, a Greek military physician serving in the Roman army in the first century AD, continued the research and recordings of his Greek ancestor.  He published De Materia Medica, detailing how lavender, when ingested, relieved indigestion, sore throats, and headaches and could also be used topically to clean and dress wounds.  Roman soldiers began to carry lavender in their field kits when on duty and would self treat injuries and battle wounds.  The Romans would use lavender in bath houses and enjoyed lavender scents to incite passions in the bedroom. 

These practices continued throughout Europe and the middle east for the next thousand years, ebbing during the height of the Black Plague and making a sweeping comeback during the the European Renaissance period as lavender's preventative care uses became a common practice to ward off lice from rats, cholera, and other widespread, deadly diseases.  Henry the VIII inadvertently fostered the widespread cultivation of lavender when he adopted the Episcopal Church (by dissolving the Catholic monasteries where lavender was exclusively produced) and the English never looked back. It is fair to say that Queen Victoria's obsession with lavender led to the creation of the English Lavender species. She even created an official title called the "Purvey of Lavender Essence to the Queen!"  American settlers kept the traditions alive when they left England, and here we are today! 

 Botanical Names

What we refer to as "lavender" today has gone by many names over time.  In the Bible, Mary used "Nard" on baby Jesus, another name for Nardus, the name for the lavender plant in Syria during the time of the Romans. The botanical name Lavendula itself is thought to come from one of two latin roots: "lavare" meaning to wash and "livundulo" meaning livid or bluish. 

Scientifically, the lavender plant is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is scientifically called Lavandula officinalis which has 39 different species.  When discussing lavender as a medicinal herb we are specifically referring to the botanical species L. anguvstifolia (English lavender) or L. spica.  These specific species  are grown throughout the world, most prominently in Provence, France, the United States, Eastern Europe, and parts of South America.     

Uses Today

Widely used for its relaxant, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties lavender also helps to soothe irritability, excitement, indigestion, tension headaches, migraines, bites, and sunburns.

L. angustifolia & L. spica appear in medicinal tinctures, essential oils, hydrosols, infusions, poultice, perfumes, balms, and aromatic vehicles. Next time you are feeling nervous, exhausted, or maybe you are suffering from a headache, or indigestion, try making a lavender infusion (aka: lavender tea) to drink.  

Lavender Tea Recipe

To make, place 1-2 Tbsp. of dried organic lavender buds into a tea pot or other heat proof container and cover with 16 oz of water that has just come to a boil (do not use vigorously boiling water, as it will cause the loss of valuable oils in the steam).  Cover the pot and let it infuse for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, pour the infusion through a strainer into your teacup or mug of choice and enjoy!  Be sure the temperature of the water has cooled enough before you drink it to prevent burning.

How we use Lavender

So are you wondering yet, what products Apothik Nature uses lavender buds in, what capacity, and why? We hope so!  

Apothik Nature uses organic lavender buds (Lavandula angustifolia) in the following products:

Deep Breath Relaxation Oil: Organic lavender infused safflower oil and lavender essential oil. Helps to calm excitement. Soothe irritability and promote all around relaxation. Aromatherapy properties.

Laguna Colorada Cleansing Tonic: Organic lavender infused deionized water. Antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Soothes irritated, disturbed or damaged skin. Aromatherapy properties.

Milo Micro Grains:  Ground organic lavender buds. Antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Soothes irritated, disturbed or damaged skin. Aromatherapy properties.

Curio Concoction Infused Oil: Organic lavender infused safflower oil. Soothes irritated, disturbed or damaged skin. Relaxation and soothing properties. Aromatherapy properties.

To be continued: be sure to read our follow up post on Lavender Essential Oil - coming soon!

 

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