Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Herbs : Lavender

Today I am going to start a series of posts on the different herbs that you can grow in your garden.

I want to cover not only how to grow them but also the benefits to your health that are believed to be associated with their use, and some of the ways that you can incorporate them into your life.

Because when we go Paleo we are trying as much as possible to get away from using chemical products and to return to more natural solutions, I will also look at how these can be used in grooming products and in your home.

Lavender is my favourite herb ( I have two bushes of it perfuming the air by my home office door) so that's where I'm going to start.

How do you grow Lavender?

Lavender is usually a pretty easy herb to grow.  The best way is to buy a plant or two from your local garden centre.  They grow very quickly and you will be able to divide them easily within a couple of growing seasons.   However you can also grow it from seed as described here :

Lavender likes a well-drained soil and at least 6 hours of sun a day to thrive.  The nice thing is that it's not just the flowers but also the foliage that has a heavenly scent, so you will be able to enjoy it throughout the year, not just when the flowers bloom.

For more information on growing lavender, here are a few more posts :

What are the health claims for Lavender ?

  • Helps you relax and get rid of anxiety and tension
  • Promotes peaceful sleep
  • Gives relief to sunburnt skin
  • Can be used as a natural antiseptic for minor cuts
  • Soothes mild stomach upsets
  • Helps get rid of dandruff and promotes healthy shiny hair

How can you use Lavender ?  

Here are a few ways for you to try :


Place 3 tablespoons of fresh Lavender flowers or 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried into a small teapot.  Add 2 cups of boiling water and allow to steep for at least 4 to 5 minutes.  Strain if necessary and serve with honey and/or sliced lemon. 

I like to double the recipe and make it in an infusion teapot   (available on Amazon) but you can just as well use a regular teapot and a strainer.  It's also very nice over ice on a hot day.

(recipe from everything-lavender.com)

Bath Oil

Use any bottle of unscented oil (I like plain baby oil) and add a few drops of Lavender essential oil.  Put the lid on the bottle and leave overnight, then take a sniff.  If it doesn't smell strong enough to you, add a few more drops and repeat the process until your happy with the results.  The longer you leave it the stronger it will get.

To use :  

Add a couple of tablespoons to a hot bath.

Alternatively, you can make small material or cheesecloth bags and fill with 2 tablespoons of dried lavender, then hang on your faucet while you run your bath.  This won't give you the oil benefits for your skin but it will scent your bath nicely.

Bath Salts

Buy a bag of epsum salts, then mix in dried lavender flowers at a ratio of one tablespoon of flowers to one cup of salts.  Store in a jar and leave at least a week before you use to let the salts infuse with the scent of the flowers.

Epsum salts are great for helping tired muscles so you will get a double benefit from this bath.

Dryer cloth

This is a great way to get extra use from those old drier cloths.  Keep them in a basket on the counter next to your dryer, along with a small bottle of essential Lavender oil. When you go to dry your clothes or bed sheets, put a drop of oil on one of the used drier cloths, rub it in well, then put into the dryer with your drying.

Alternatively you can just keep some cheap face cloths to use for this and they will work just as well.

Warning :  Don't do this with men's underwear.  For some reason they don't seem to appreciate it.

Hair rinse

Brew a pot of Lavender tea as above, let cool, and store in an empty plastic bottle. (Empty shampoo or conditioner bottle works well for this.)  Keep by your shower.


Ingredients :
- 1/4 cup Shea butter (or try coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Gel
- 1 tablespoon Vitamin E oil (you can break open some gel caps if need be)
- 1/2 tablespoon Lavender Essential Oil

You can get these ingredients in most health food stores and some drugstores
Instructions :

- Melt the butter or coconut oil in a microwave.
- Stir in all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Allow to cool slightly.  Once the mixture begins to set, stir with a whisk or emersion blender to help avoid any separation. (It should look like whipped icing at this point.)
- Pour into a wide mouthed 8 oz jar (or several empty face cream jars) and leave to cool completely, then replace the lid.

Sachets to scent your clothes

Sew little bags as above for the bath but a bit larger, fill with approx. 1/4 cup of dried lavender, and tie with a thin ribbon.  Keep in your lingerie and sweater drawers and hang on your clothes hangers in your closet to scent your cloths.  These can be renewed after  3 or 4 months by dropping a few drops of essential lavender oil onto them and letting it soak into the bag.

Sleep pillow 

Sew a small bag as above, but large enough to hold about a cup of dried lavender.  Once you've filled it, sew up the open side and you've made a little pillow. Tuck it under your bed pillow.  When the scent starts to fade it can be renewed as above.

For instructions on making an embroidered sleep pillow like the one in the picture, check http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2010/06/diy-lavender-eye-pillows-and-a-giveaway/

And finally :

ATTENTION :  For Emergencies Only  :

The next time you make my Paleo bread recipe  Paleo bread recipe  bake a loaf with lavender flowers instead of flaxseed and double the maple syrup or honey.  When it's cool, slice, put into a freezer bag, and then tuck it into your freezer.

On a super stressful day, or when you're feeling under the weather and just badly need a treat as well as a relaxant, brew a pot of lavender tea as above and toast a couple of slices of lavender bread. (Slathering with butter is optional but sometimes necessary, depending on how badly you feel)

Enjoy a few peaceful guilt-free moments of bliss, knowing that you're enjoying a treat that is not going to do you much harm  .... and just possibly a whole lot of good.

These are  just a few ways you can use lavender.  I can't guarantee that any of this will work, but many have tried it (including me) and swear by it, and since Lavender also smells so wonderful, I think it's worth a shot don't you?

Here is your inspirational lavender garden for today from inspiredani.wordpress.com

"Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise."
                                                                                                                            - Henry Mitchell

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