Lavender, well-known in the worlds of gardening, baking, and essential oils, has now amassed substantial research and is taking the scientific world by storm.
Ancient Medicine - Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, syn. L. officinalis — no other types) is often introduced as a queen of medicinal plants:
From the Mediterranean and Middle East, this evergreen perennial woody shrub looks very similar to rosemary. And like rosemary, it likes well-drained soil and plenty of sun.
Bushes grow up to a meter (3 1/4 feet) tall and look spectacular grown in expanses of dazzling blue, blooming in midsummer.
The Romans named the plant after its use in their bathing rituals (“lava” is to wash), realizing lavender isn’t only relaxing, but also antiseptic. Sixteenth-century English herbalist John Parkinson wrote that lavender was “especially good use for all griefes and paines of the head and brain,” and Charles VI of France insisted his pillow always contain lavender so he could get a good night’s sleep. People still use lavender in pillows today.
In Asian traditional medicine, lavender has long been used for its “cooling” effect and for helping the “Shen,” or mind, by cooling the heart, helping people relax and find relief from troubles in the mind that give rise to tension in the body.
Lavender was used by doctors during WWII to heal wounds.
At the same time, a French biochemist, Marguerite Maury, developed a unique method of applying these oils to the skin with massage — hence the practice of aromatherapy massage — now used all over the world.
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