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Lavender: a Natural Antibiotic and More

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 4 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Lavender Antiseptic Antibiotic Essential

Lavender is a Mediterranean shrub grown in Britain as well as Bulgaria, France, Australia and the United States. Lavender is a tough plant and is extremely drought resistant. Its flowers keep their scent when dried and are also edible. If properly cared for, a lavender plant will live up to ten years.

Lavender's History

Lavender is an herb rich in history and culture. Long prized for its healing properties, written records of the use of lavender for medicinal purposes date back as far as 60AD and the writings of Dioscorides. In ancient Rome lavender was recognized for its healing and antiseptic qualities, its ability to deter insects, and for washing. In fact, its name stems from the Latin "lavare", meaning to wash. In Medieval times lavender crosses were hung from doors to ward off evil and to safeguard against disease. In London, people wore bunches of lavender tied to their wrists to protect them from the Plague. During the First World War, when modern antibiotics were sparse, lavender was used to dress wounds and helped to heal scar tissue and burns. Since then lavender has continued to be popular, and not only for medicinal purposes.

Lavender's Antibiotic Properties

Lavender is renowned for its antibiotic properties. Studies have shown that the essential oil of lavender, particularly when combined with Geranium oil, is capable of killing some Staph infections. Other studies have reported that lavender is good for treating ear infections, and is mild enough to treat such symptoms in children. Recently, four new chemicals have been isolated from lavender plants, and are believed to be beneficial for the treatment of candida. There is ongoing research into these four substances.

Lavender's Other Uses

Lavender's essential oils have been used for perfumes for centuries, not only does it have a refreshing aroma, it is also a tonic for the nerves and eases tension headaches. It is also often used dried in sachets and pomanders and placed inside wardrobes and dressers, not just for its aroma, but also because it is antiseptic and antibacterial and deters mosquitoes and moths. Lavender was one of the three herbs that the pilgrims brought to America with them to protect their health, and its properties are still valued today to treat a variety of ailments.

Anxiety, stress, tension headaches;
Lavender tea (infusion) may be made from the dried flowers, 1 1/2 tsp. flowers to 8oz.water. This can be drunk up to 4 times a day for nervous exhaustion, depression, tension headache, indigestion and as a relaxant during labour.

Infectious disease and fever;
Lavender reduces fever and purifies the system by inducing sweating to eliminate toxins. It is a strong antiseptic and has been used to fight diphtheria, strep throat and pneumonia.

Lice;
used as a scalp wash it can be used to kill head lice.

Mouth and throat;
Lavender tea, or a few drops of oil in a glass of water, used as a gargle eases sore throats and laryngitis, can also soothe toothache.

Vomiting and diarrhoea;
Lavender tea can ease the digestive system and relieve vomiting and diarrhoea.

Wounds;
lavender oil is an exception to all the other essential oils, in that it does not need to be diluted in a carrier oil because it is so gentle. It is also safe to use on infants and children. Lavender is often used to treat scalds, minor burns, cuts, grazes, inflammation, eczema and dermatitis.

For a relaxing massage;
Mix 10 to 12 drops of lavender oil in 1 oz. of a carrier oil such as almond, grape seed or safflower oil and massage into temples, nape of the neck and shoulders to relax tight muscles and relieve tension headaches.

Insomnia;
a few drops of lavender oil in a bath of warm water before bedtime will relieve anxiety and alleviate insomnia. You can also apply a few drops to your pillow or pyjamas at night to aid restful sleep.

Caution;
though there are no known reports of harmful drug interactions with lavender, it may increase the sedative effects of many medications. Use with caution if taking medications with sedative effects such as antihistamines and therapies for anxiety and insomnia.

Perfume;
as well as using the dried flowers and leaves, the stems of the plant can be dried and burnt like incense, and have often been used as a means of deodorizing and disinfecting sick rooms

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