Lavendula angustifolia syn. officinalis
Without a doubt, Lavender is one of the best known herbs, though its healing reputation is mostly due to its essential oil, which is perhaps THE most widely used essential oil in aromatherapy and cosmetics. Its scent is so neat and clean and tidy and soothing and pleasant - in other words, reminiscent of grandma's linen closet. Lavender is indeed used in numerous household products, such as soaps and washing powders. But Grandma probably placed a little sachet stuffed with Lavender flowers between her linens, which not only lent them that special scent of floral freshness, but also kept the moths and bugs away. The very name 'Lavender' is descriptive of these age-old uses, which go back to Roman times. The Latin word 'lavare' from which 'Lavender' is derived, simply means 'to wash'. Although Lavender is a Mediterranean herb and at home in the dry, hot climate of the Provence, it has also long been cultivated as a commercial crop in Britain. In southern Europe, Lavender starts flowering early and thus provides welcome spring nectar for busy bees. The resulting honey is sold as a precious delicacy. However, in France the deeply violet flowered French Lavender (L. stoechas) is by far the most common species encountered in the wild. It has been used medicinally in France as well as in England until about the middle of the 18th century and was an important ingredient of the famous 'Vinegar of the Four Thieves', which at the time was hailed as one of the most effective preventative remedies against the Black Death. Lavender also had the power to ward off other invisible demons and devils and was cast into the bonfires at the summer solstice for protection.
Lavender oil is the favourite oil of aromatherapists, as it is incredibly versatile and considered very safe. However, the actual flowers can also be used medicinally. It is said that Lavender helps stroke victims and can calm or even stop the hands from shaking. Lavender has a bit of a soapy taste, but it has a calming, soothing effect on the mind. It is mildly anti-depressive and strengthens the nerves. It can also be used for nervous indigestion and queasiness of the stomach. A lavender pillow helps to calm an overactive mind and can induce peaceful sleep. A strong infusion can be added to the bathwater for a wonderfully soothing and skin cleansing effect. See also Lavender essential oil.
Lavender is perhaps one of the best herbs for purification, protection and healing rituals. It calms and centres the mind and is a great aid for meditation. Its superior harmonising qualities are ideal for chakra-balancing. It can be used to seal a platonic friendship, especially between teacher and student. Lavender is a plant of Mercury, and is well suited to calm an overactive mind and to stabilise emotions. It may be used for studying, as it may deepen understanding, but should be avoided in case of mental exhaustion (it will send you to sleep).