Lavender and Its Common Use
The Lavandula genus consists of about 25-30 species commonly recognized as lavender. This flowering plant belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae, native from the Mediterranean region south to tropical Africa and to the south east regions of India. Annuals, herbaceous plants, subshrubs, and small shrubs make up the lavender genus. The name “lavender” has Latin origin – Latin root “lavare” is translated as “to wash”. This word has the direct relevance to lavender’s use in the variety of products aimed to purify human body and spirit. The plant has woody branches with rod-like leafy sprouts. The oblong leaves are grayish-green, swirled spirally. Lavender small blue-violet flowers produce the oil that makes lavender fragrant herb. Flowers are also spirally arranged, forming spikes on the top of the stem.
Native to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean, lavender grows best in stony and sunny areas. Cultivated in gardens, it favours sand or gravel soil in dry, open, sunny place. The plant should be kept from damp in cold season and needs good drainage. Lavender usually grown from seed and is generally propagated by layerings and cuttings.
Dried lavender flowers are used with ornamental purposes and as fragrance source, put among stored items. High quality honey is made by the beekeepers out of the flowers’ nectar. Lavender is also the constituent of the flavor sugar and lavender tea. But the plant’s most valuable part is essential oil, extracted from the flowers. It is used in aromatherapy, cosmetics and medicine.
Lavender dried flowers and oil are the constituents of the number of the commercial preparations: bath gels, soaps, foams and lotions, aromatherapy oil, teas, tinctures, extracts and infusions. You may also find whole dried flowers sold for various domestic and medicinal purposes.
The active components in lavender flowers include flavonoids, triterpenoids, coumarins, tannins and 0,5-1,5% oil. These chemicals make lavender the source of the aromatic, carminative, restorative, tonic and nervine properties. Sedative properties of lavender oil have been known for centuries. The mechanism of its action is as follows: nasal mucus absorbs the molecules of the oil and hair-like scent receptors get irritated; these receptors are connected to the brain area responsible for emotion, memory, emotional balance and sex-drive.
Lavender has been for long used as the remedy for a range of mental conditions: insomnia and anxiety, depression and mood disturbances. Hysteria, palsy and similar disorders of debility and lack of nerve power are handled with lavender using its powerful stimulant properties. The plant produces calming, soothing, and sedative effects.
Lavender essential oil and spirit made from it are used against faintness, palpitations of a nervous sort, weak giddiness, spasms and colic. Applied topically, lavender essential oil and spirit relieve toothache, headache, neuralgia, sprains and rheumatism.
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, lavender oil is applied for fungal infections (like candidiasis), wounds, insect bites, skin burns, eczema and acne. Hoarseness and loss of voice are handled with the distilled lavender water.The variety of conditions for which lavender is beneficial includes hair loss, insomnia, varicose ulcers, postoperative pain and many more.
There’s a precaution about the lavender oil: in too large doses it is a narcotic poison and may cause death by convulsions.
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