Lavender for Health

Lavender is the perfect multifunction plant. It looks nice, it smells nice and it attracts bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. Lavender has health benefits, and it has a range of medicinal uses. It can be used for its fragrance, for lavender pillows to aid sleep, and in baths.

Lavender essential oil is used for aromatherapy. It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. The dried herb is used in herbal remedies, teas, and in cooking.

Lavender is a member of the mint family and it is related to rosemary, sage and thyme.

Lavender Flowers
Field of lavender flowers

Types of lavender plant

There are quite a few types of lavender as well as cultivars available to grow in your garden. Many of these are useful for herb or oil production.

Lavandula Angustifolia (or English Lavender)
This variety is widely used for commercial growing.
Common cultivars include Hidcote and Munstead.

Lavandula Intermedia (Lavandin or Cottage Garden Lavender)
Widely grown commercially.

These are good varieties to grow if you would like to collect and dry the flowers to use for fragrance or cooking, oil extraction, or teas.

French lavender (Lavandula Stoechas) is not ideal for culinary or herbal use, and is best just kept as a garden plant.

You should grow lavender in well drained soil, in a sunny – ideally south facing – position. It prefers poor soil, but it will not be happy in wet soil. If you have heavy soil you should dig in some grit and fibrous material, but don’t give it too much rich compost. Coir compost is a useful addition as this is fibrous but low in nutrients.

French lavender is more delicate than other types, and it may need some protection from wind and frost.

Lavender fragrance around the house

Dried lavender can be used around the house for fragrance; it can be combined with other herbs such as rose petals or chamomile.

Lavender bags can be used to add fragrance around the house, and to freshen and fragrance clothing.

A diffuser can be used with lavender essential oil, as well as essential oil combinations.

Dried lavender flowers can be scattered around the house on to carpets and rugs.
Scatter it around, leave it for a while, walk on it to crush the flowers and release the fragrance, and then vacuum it up.
It also has the benefit of making your vacuum cleaner smell much nicer.

Dried lavender in bags
Dried lavender flowers in bags

Lavender bags

Use your lavender bags in a clothes drawer or wardrobe, to freshen and add fragrance to stored clothing and bedding, and to deter clothing moths, who do not like the smell.

Place the dried flowers in a fabric or mesh bag, and hang up in a wardrobe or place into a clothes drawer.

You can use a 15cm square or circle of thin fabric; put a small pile of lavender flowers in the middle, pull the edges together and tightly tie ribbon or string around it.

How to make dried lavender

If you have lavender plants in the garden, it is very easy to make your own dried lavender.

  • Pick the young flowers just before the flower buds open, or as they are just starting to open.
    Do this on a warm sunny day, when the flowers are dry.
    Cut the stems at around 12 – 18 inches long, so that they can be tied together.
  • Make small bunches and tightly tie these together with string or ribbon, then hang them up somewhere warm to dry. A sunny conservatory would be ideal.

In the right conditions they should be fully dry in a few days.

When they are completely dry and the individual flowers can be easily rubbed off the flower heads, place the stems into a large clean tray or bucket and rub the flowers off them.

Store the flowers in an air-tight container until ready to use.

Lavender aromatherapy bath

A calming and relaxing lavender aromatherapy bath can help you to get a good night’s sleep. It can also help to soothe skin irritation; it is antiseptic and speeds up the healing of cuts and burns.

Add 1 or 2 drops of lavender essential oil in to your bath

Lavender blends well with other essential oils, such as geranium, chamomile or rose.

Lavender herb bath

Sprinkle a few dried lavender flowers into a warm bath, and swirl around.

If you make your own bath bombs, they can be rolled in the dried lavender flowers or have some mixed in.

Lavender water

Make a strong lavender tea.
Strain it when cool and store in a clean bottle.

Pour a small amount into your bath, or use it to make a fragrance spray.
Add some rose petals or other herbs to the tea if you wish.

Lavender herbal medicine

Lavender herb medicinal properties

  • Calming and promotes sleep.
  • Useful for headaches – especially those related to stress.

Lavender aromatherapy – lavender essential oil properties

  • Lavender essential oil has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • The essential oil can be used to treat burns and cuts.
  • Useful for cold and flu treatment.

You can combine a few drops of essential oils with a base oil, such as sweet almond oil, and add a few drops of this to the bath.

Lavender essential oil treatment for colds and flu

The essential oil of lavender can be useful in treating the symptoms of colds and flu, and respiratory infections using the techniques below.

Steam inhalation technique for essential oils
Add 2 or 3 drops each of lavender oil and tea tree oil to a bowl of hot (just boiled) water. Use a large bowl (one which will not easily tip over) or washbasin.
Drape a large towel over your head and the bowl to make a steam tent.
Breathe slowly and deeply for about 5 minutes.

You can also place one or two drops of your preferred essential oils on a tissue and inhale regularly.

Other essential oils to consider for cold and flu treatment include peppermint and eucalyptus, both of which can be combined with lavender oil.

Essential oils are extremely potent. Take care with their use, and do not take internally. If unsure how to use, please seek advice. If you?re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should get advice from a professional aromatherapist or medical professional before using.

Bee on lavender flower
Bee on lavender flower

Lavender in food and drinks

Lavender has been used in cooking for thousands of years but it fell out of popularity during the last century. The use of lavender in cooking is still popular in the Middle East and North Africa.

Lavender can be used in biscuits, stewed fruit and jam, in sweet puddings and fruit crumbles, and can also be used in teas.

It is important to use high quality culinary lavender for food and drink.

Lavender sugar

Lavender sugar can be use in cooking, including fruit crumbles and biscuits.

  • Add caster sugar to a glass jar or other container with a tight fitting lid, to no more than 3/4 full.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers.
  • Mix together (shake the jar).
  • Leave to stand for at least 2 weeks before using in biscuits, puddings, etc.

Lavender tea

Lavender is often combined with other herbs in teas – often to promote sleep. It is also sometimes combined with black tea.

  • Combine with Chamomile for a calming tea.
  • Combine with Valerian for a sleep-inducing tea (don’t drive after using Valerian).
  • Add other herbs such as Fennel seed to sweeten the mix.

Lavender biscuits recipe

These biscuits are quite delicious, and actually not difficult to make.

I recently made this lavender biscuit recipe with our 6 year old, who had been asking to make them since last summer.

They were delicious!