ingredient focus: lavender


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is indigenous to the Mediterranean, but is cultivated in Australia, Southern Europe, France, India and other parts of Asia.  Lavender has been used for over 2500 years for its therapeutic, culinary, and beauty benefits.  The Egyptians used lavender during mummification, while the Romans prized it for its antiseptic and healing properties.  The ancient Greeks referred to the herb as nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda, and used it for insomnia and backaches.  It was one of the holy herbs used to prepare the holy essence, and is mentioned in the Song of Solomon.  Lavender was used as remedy during the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, while French glove makers, who perfumed their items with the flower, defeated cholera infection in the 16th century.

There is a growing body of medical literature supporting the use of lavender for its ability to promote antioxidant generation, potentially treat diabetes, and reduce migraine headaches.  Its fragrance has been clinically demonstrated to reduce stress and anxiety while relieving depression and insomnia.  The antimicrobial and antifungal properties of lavender have been well-documented in studies showing its efficacy against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, and Candida albicans.  It has anecdotally been noted to speed the healing of minor cuts, burns, and wounds, and to decrease scar formation.

Ayurvedic medicine also treasures lavender for its ability to soothe, cool, and balance the body.  It is most useful for pitta and kapha doshas.  It is believed to enhance prana, or the vital life force, which in turn enhances the body’s ability to fight disease.  Ayurveda believes lavender essential oil to strengthen the immune system by protecting it from bacterial and fungal infections.  With these antiseptic properties, it has been used to treat acne.  When massaged into the scalp, it has been found to stimulate hair growth and nourish the scalp.  Lavender has even been used with sesame oil in Shirodhara, the celebrated oil-dripping treatment, to calm the mind and body.

We love lavender for its graceful beauty and quiet strength.  It is the primary essential oil used in Anokha Ayurvedics Kapha Facial Oil.

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