If rosemary is for the spirit, then lavender is for the soul…”Anonymous”.
If I could only have one healing herb in my first aid box, it would be lavender. Many people know about its sleep-inducing properties and how it helps with tension and anxiety, but there is so much more to it. Use it for skin problems, rashes, cuts, bruises and burns; as a digestive aid and for upset tummies; muscular aches and pains and even as a cough suppressant.
The Ancient Romans added it to their baths for its perfume, and it has been used as a strewing herb by many different civilisations. In the 19th century zoos even used it in the lion and tiger cages to calm the big cats.
There are many different varieties and cultivars of lavender, with flowers ranging in colour from pale mauves to deep purples, and white, green and red. The plant size also varies from small shrubs not more than 40 cm high to the larger English lavenders which grow to 1m. The English Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) is the largest growing and has long spikes of small flowers, this is the variety that is used medicinally.
French Lavender (Lavendula dentata) has larger, attractive flowers with more colour. It flowers for most of the year making it a popular garden plant. Spanish Lavender (Lavendula stoechas) also has large attractive flowers with two distinctive flower bracts at the top of each one but has a much shorter flowering season.