BY LISA S.T. DOSS
The cultural knowledge of herbs is not entirely lost. Tea drinkers seek warmth through sips to find a remedy for the onset of an ailment or to relax. Once upon a time, herbal lore was instinctual, just like the hand wanders into a cupboard to find oregano written on a glass bottle. The basic knowledge of medicinal plants may still be in our genes, urging to take root and blossom. You, too, can appreciate the versatile quality of herbs by first loving plants, their colors or fragrances. Take it one step further! The gardener within you can make teas, salves, tinctures and poultices to promote good health!
Did you know that every herb affects each one of us differently? Begin by taking a sniff of the plant or essential oil, waiting a few seconds, then assessing how you feel. As a sufferer of anxiety or depression, the fragrance may result in a boost of energy. Have a niggling fear? One deep inhalation of breath could transform your confidence levels! It’s no wonder the lavender scent is well-associated with bedtime. The rich, blue flowers have a diversified secret that allows the mind, body and spirit to rejuvenate and repair!
From Flower to Harvest
Similar to the basil, oregano and parsley plants in your kitchen window, consider adding lavender. One leaf applied to the skin can relieve the itchy sensation derived from a bug bite or heal a minor burn. Once the woody plant expands within its container, choose a sunny location to plant in well-drained soil near the house. (Lavender thrives in dry conditions.) Another superpower is repelling moths, flies, fleas and mosquitoes.
A Floral Tea
As a fragrant mint, steeping the flowers in hot water has multiple purposes:
- With adding one teaspoon of lavender to one cup of boiling water, you can, after 10 minutes, ease a feeling of anxiety.
- Add one teaspoon of peppermint to the cup, and you’ll have a cure for a headache or stomachache.
- For those who enjoy milk in tea, add a sprinkle of cinnamon and, perhaps, a teaspoon of raw honey. This combination promotes tranquility, especially for those who have insomnia.
Lavender Oil for Baths and Moisturizers
The process of extracting oils from plants involves capturing steam from the flower buds and condensing it into liquid form. As in most tinctures, they are alcohol-based.
Use oil as a treatment to eliminate dry hair, in bathwater or as a skin moisturizer.
- If using heat, simmer 1 ½ cups olive oil with 2 cups lavender flowers or buds until it bubbles at the edges of a pot. (Another option is to place the lavender infusion in the oven at 185 degrees.) Stir periodically.
- Cool to room temperature, and strain twice or use cheesecloth.
- Pierce seven vitamin-E capsules, and squeeze the oil into the pot. Stir.
- Transfer to a sterilized, airtight Mason jar.
- Refrigerate for six weeks. (Freeze a portion which will remain fragrant up to six months after thawing.)
As aches and pains regularly affect the eyes, shoulders, lower back or legs, one cure is to have a homemade lavender pillow. Due to a desire for softness, use flannel fabric. Whether small in shape for an eye pillow or rectangular to rest under both legs and span the shoulders, choose an adequate size to accommodate multiple needs. Add rice to your lavender pillow, if you seek a warming, soothing remedy.
The Beauty of Lavender
Rather than hang bundles of lavender, use a pitcher to display the fragrant blooms on the front or back porch, kitchen table or bathroom counter. Guests may breathe deeply and discover the influence truly impacts the spirit! Once thoroughly dried, use the stems in wreaths or floral arrangements to continue enjoying the fresh scent!
Next Month: Bergamot