If you were to sit back and close your eyes (don’t this now, just keep reading) while the pleasing scent of lavender wafted into your sunlit room, you would likely feel an instantaneous wave of calm and comfort. Lavender just smells clean. But, the cozy scent of lavender doesn’t just give us the illusion of cleanliness, it actually contains antiseptic properties, which (coupled with its ability to deter bugs) is why it has been used as linen wash for hundreds of years. Beyond smelling clean and looking pretty in your herb garden, lavender is a powerful herbal medicine with an increasing library of research backing its efficacy as a therapeutic intervention for neurological disorders, as well as an effective sedative, and digestive aid.
Lavender is a gentle sedative and can help with mild anxiety (as well as other health concerns that anxiety ushers in such as IBS, depression, etc.) and insomnia. In fact, lavender contains the same active terpene (fancy word for an aromatic compound) as many cannabis strains called linalool (linalool is also found in beer and other fruits). Linalool basically just creates a calming floral aroma and therefore has traditionally been thought to be predominately aromatherapeutic. However, there has recently been more research conducted around this single plant chemical due to its calming mechanisms of action. In fact, linalool is easily and quickly absorbed through the skin and is thought to be able to cause central nervous system depression (an alleviation from anxiety). I know if I’m having a particularly difficult time falling asleep or if I’m feeling acutely anxious about something I’ll definitely take a lavender pill or two. More and more studies are showing that lavender pills may serve as a safe replacement for benzodiazepines! Studies are also currently being performed to investigate the efficacy of lavender in treating symptoms of Alzheimer’s patients. These studies are showing improved spatial memory as well as increased neuroprotective markers.
Lavender is a slightly bitter bile stimulant. This means it helps improve digestion and nutrient absorption. It’s also a carminative (dispels gas), anti-inflammatory, and helps with nausea. It has anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anticonvulsive properties. On top of its many anti-anxiety and digestive benefits, lavender has been known to help with wound healing, headaches, fungal infections, hair loss, and PMS symptoms.
How to Use Lavender:
Lavender pills are delightfully concentrated and easy for an on-the-go anxiety buster (I’m looking at you, airports/pretty much any building now that I’ve lost all ability to be in social environments due to being stuck in the house for over a year)
Lavender tea is especially nice if you’re a ritual person. For me, I love the ritual of drinking coffee in the morning almost as much as I love the caffeine. I also love a cup of tea before bed, just to get the mind right before I dive into my cozy duvet. It’s also nice because a tea allows for you to add other herbs you may want. A great relaxation mix is lavender, catnip, lemon balm, and chamomile - you’ll be sleeping (or just chilling) like a baby!
Aromatherapy oils have been shown to help with insomnia and general anxiety.
Topical oils have been shown to help combat anxiety and headaches, and to help with wound healing and preventing wrinkles!
As a bath! Baths are always great. Now, just add a little lavender oil and you’ll feel super luxurious.
Lavender treats: honey, cookies, sachets, lemonade, soap. Honestly, just about anything is made better with the addition of lavender.
We’re still early on in the season, but hopefully, our lavender boot-scoots its way back into our pollinator and Pick-Your-Own beds soon. So, be on the lookout for our very own Woodside Farms lavender!