Lavender is an herb that grows as a short shrub approximately 24 inches tall. The plant is native to mountainous areas of the Mediterranean but has now spread throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States. The leaves of the plant are gray-green and are covered with a silvery down. Lavender has small, blue-violet flowers that are strongly scented.
Why lavender is used
Historically lavender was used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. The name lavender comes from the latin word “to wash.” In modern usages, lavender is believed to have a calming or soothing effect and is used to help with relaxation and to relieve anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and depression. It is also sometimes used to treat hair loss (alopecia), and to relieve a headache or upset stomach.
How lavender is used
The flowers of the lavender plant are used in a variety of ways. The most common use is as an essential oil for aromatherapy. This fragrance of the oil is considered to be relaxing and can be used alone or in combination with other essential oils. These oils can also be rubbed on the scalp to help stop hair loss from alopecia. The essential oil is also used to make lotions or can be applied directly to the skin. Lavender flowers can also be dried and used to make teas or other liquid extracts that can be consumed.
• Lavender is generally considered safe for use by adults. It should not be given orally to children as a tea or in any other form.
• Women who are breastfeeding should not use lavender.
• Lavender oil may be poisonous. Do not drink lavender oil or add it to tea or other foods.
• Lavender oil in aromatherapy is generally safe for adults, but the oil can cause skin irritation in people who are sensitive to it.
• Lavender oil should not be applied to the skin of young boys as it can cause abnormal breast growth in young boys.
• Lavender teas may cause constipation, appetite changes, and headaches.
• Lavender may interact with sedatives to increase drowsiness. Tell your doctor if you have used lavender prior to any surgery involving anesthesia.