I want to write about an herb that I am pretty much 100 percent sure you are familiar with. You might even have some growing your yard. If you don’t it’s likely that someone nearby you does.
I love profiling plants that seem kind of ordinary to us, because it’s often these very plants that have the most powerful medicine for us. One of my herbal medicine teachers always used to say that the medicines we need the most are usually the ones that are growing nearby or even right in our yards. Nature’s just cool like that. She gives us what we need.
Today, I want to share a bit about lovely lavender; an extremely potent and sometimes overlooked medicine that has a lot to offer us.
There are about 39 different species of lavender that we know of. All of them are medicinal, but the species most commonly used for healing is Lavendula Angustifolia, or English Lavender.
The Latin name for any plant in the lavender family is lavendula. (Despite finding the Latin rather cumbersome, I make a practice of learning a plants’ Latin name to help me better understand its’ personality). The word lavendula is derived from the the latin word lavare, which means “to wash.”
Of course, the obvious meaning here is that lavender is a great plant to use in soaps and detergents. Indeed, it has a fresh, clean fragrance that I love.
But let’s dare to go a little deeper than that.
Lavender has many facets and properties that are useful to us humans, but one of the most under-recognized of them all is the way that Lavender is deeply protective and cleansing. Lavender is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and so it can protect and heal the body from infections of all kinds.
In the alchemical tradition, Lavender is associated with the planet mercury and the element of air.
Mercury and air both rule the mind and are associated with the head and the brain. As such, lavender is an excellent remedy for the mind and for afflictions of the head. Lavender is often used as a remedy for headaches and is said to sharpen vision (both physical vision and psychic vision) and has the power to clear the mind.
The general rule in herbal medicine is that whatever a plant does on the physical plane it also does on the energetic plane. As such, Lavender is a plant that can be used to clear negative energies and offers psychic protection, just in the same way that it clears the mind and protects the body from infections.
Lavender also exerts a powerful action on the nervous system (the planet mercury and the air element also rule the nervous system) and has been used for centuries to calm the nerves.
Some alchemists also associate lavender with the moon, which makes sense because of it’s ability calm nervousness and anxiety and promote sleep. One of my favorite herbalists, Kiva Rose, talks about it as having a motherly quality; It’s a good plant to use for those of us who worry. A wrinkled brow is said to be a sign that lavender is called for.
Lavender is also a bitter-tasting digestive, meaning that it can ease symptoms of indigestion, and is especially useful when the indigestion is due to anxiety or nervousness.
Lavender is also anti-inflammatory!
If you’d like to begin to use Lavender as a medicine in your own herbal apothecary, here are some tips:
When we’re talking about lavender as medicine, we’re mostly talking about the flowers, although all of the above-ground parts could potentially be used. There are lots of ways to enjoy the benefits of lavender; it’s an extremely versatile plant.
Here are some ways that you can enjoy the benefits of this amazing plant:
- Consider taking a lavender tincture. You can buy one at any herbal medicine shop. It actually has a nice, bitter, floral taste (it’s really good in sparkling water).
- Lavender tea is also nice. Be careful; it’s stronger than you think! It has a short brewing time (5 minutes or less) and a little goes a long way (you can use dried flowers or fresh). Add honey!
- You can try some dried lavender as a smudge to clear negative energy or disinfect the air in a sick room.
- Diffusing lavender essential oil is great. Remember, lavender is associated with the air element; delivering the medicine through the air is extra-effective with this plant. Try diffusing some in your space.
- You can also try working with lavender flower essence. This is a great way to experience the psychological and meta-physical properties of this plant. Flower essences are available online and at most herbal medicine shops.
- You can also try applying some lavender body oil after your next shower or bath. You’ll feel calm and clear, and smell amazing!
This powerful plant ally is likely growing somewhere near you. The next time you notice it, stop and say hello and maybe even take a moment to offer some gratitude. It’s possible that lavender has some incredible healing to offer to you or to someone you love. We are so blessed to have such amazing medicine growing right beneath our feet!