"Lavender" is a common name for a number of related species, indigenous to the Mediterranean zones, but widely adopted on the territory of the United States as well as in Southern Europe and Australia. Lavender is a short (up to 60 cm) branchy shrub with opposite gray-green oblong leaves and small blue-violet flowers arranged up the stem. Lavender has long been esteemed for numerous therapeutic properties. The major medical effects of lavender herb include soothing and sedative actions. This accounts for the fact why lavender is desirable to be present in stressful situations or at births to calm the mother. Of course the delightful fragrance of the lilac-colored tubular flowers undoubtedly has an aesthetic effect. However, both the flowers and the plant itself have been widely used by different cultures as a remedy for a number of disorders.
Lavender care has traditionally been considered an effective treatment for various skin disorders and modern science has confirmed this empirical tradition by stating the natural antibiotic, cell regenerating and soothing properties of the plant. Lavender care is also effective for treatment of acne, abscesses, athlete's foot, dandruff, dermatitis, eczema, insect bites and stings, scabies, and various other skin sores. Many of lavender care products are used for skin, besides essential oil contain additional elements (like jojoba oil) to simplify the application of the product to the affected zone. It can be applied directly to the skin, being non-irritant and safe to use externally.
Nowadays lavender is a source for a variety of herbal preparations, produced mainly from dry flowers and essential oils extracted from the fresh flowers of the plant. Among the products available are: lavender lotions, soaps, tinctures, bath gels, infusions and many others. Dried flowers are used for making lavender eye pillows, which are perfect for removing eye strain and fighting headaches, particularly those caused by stress. The wonderful fragrance of lavender brings about deep relaxation and is said to be useful against anxiety and depression. Lavender has also been traditionally used as an ingredient in sachets to scent clothes and to repel moths and other bugs from stored clothing. Lavender care benefits are also associated with healing baths for circulatory disorders and as a rub for rheumatic ailments or muscle fatique. Professional herbalists recommend using lavender essential oil as an ingredient for massage oil.
Through its ability to act as a sedative, tonic and stimulant, it can improve mental stability, reduce PMS-related stress, and has an overall beneficial effect on different body systems, such as nervous, immune, digestive and respiratory. Known topical applications of lavender include using it as a cure for insomnia, exhaustion and the nervous system strengthening. Recent medical evidence supports folkloric use of lavender for insomnia. It has been proven to have the capability to slow the activity of the nervous system thus relieving mental tension and promoting healthy sleep for restless sleepers. Lavender health care products are a long-standing remedy for preventing hair loss, if massaged into the scalp lavender extract produces a visible beneficial effect.
Though lavender clearly possesses amazing healing powers, it should be taken with great care, supervised by a professional herbalist as lavender contains several active substances that can trigger side effects.