Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Allure of Lavender

French lavender essential oil can be used as an antimicrobial, antiviral and also a fungicide. It was used in wartime for antiseptic purposes, because when the oil was rubbed into a wound, the infection rate plummeted. Many people have used it over the centuries as a headache remedy, and it is also popular in aromatherapy as a tension reliever. This property makes it useful in muscle ointments, which is why it is so popular in massage therapy.

Over the years, mothers have made pillows for their babies that were stuffed with the blossoms because the essential oil they contained helped put the babies to sleep and wake up refreshed. Lavender bushes were planted beneath nursery windows so that on a sunny day, the fragrance would naturally waft into the child’s room. Even today, a popular item is the neck pillow stuffed with lavender that is meant to relieve tension.

Lavender Fragrance
The ‘lave’ in the word lavender is from the French, where ‘laver’ means ‘to wash.’ Lavender grows well in France, and most homes had an area devoted to growing the fragrant bushes. On wash day, maids would lay the linens over the bushes. As the sheets dried, the heat of the sun infused the aroma into the fabric, and the scent could be enjoyed for days. Lavender essential oil is still used to give a pleasant smell to many products today, including many toiletry items like perfumes, lotions and powders. Many household products also use lavender, such as laundry soap, dryer sheets and dishwashing liquid.

Lavender In Food
One of the very first uses for this versatile herb was for flavoring food. It is pleasant in desserts and also in savory dishes. It lends a delightful contrast to fruits that are sour. It is not recommended to use the pure distilled essential oil in food dishes, but flower buds can be used to give the right amount of diluted essence to the dish. Lavender tea is quickly becoming a favorite beverage. Adding a few blossoms to shortcake lends a pleasant and refreshing essence.

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