Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Learn an Herb: Lavender

Doing research for my learn-an-herb series has been really eye opening for me. Plants that I am familiar with and that I even grow in my yard have so many more uses than I ever knew. Take lavender. I have used it in the past for relaxation and to relieve anxiety and stress, but had no idea of all the other benefits it provides.
Lavender is an antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, and antidepressant. Internally, it can be taken to help with stress, anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, headache, migraines, insomnia, depression, cold, digestive problems, upset stomachs, nervousness and as a breath freshener.  Stress? Exhaustion? Insomnia? Headaches? This is starting to sound like a miracle drug for me!
Externally, lavender can be used to help heal cuts, scrapes, burns, bruises, stings/bites, rashes, muscle aches, arthritis, col and canker sores, blisters, athlete's foot, and can be rubbed on the temples to help relieve migraines.
So, how do you get this magical plant into your system to start its magic? You can take essential oil, but it is fairly harsh and can cause nausea in some folks. A better option is to make a quick tea by boiling leaves and flowers in water and drink with some honey) or try it in lavender lemonade (see recipe below). It can be put into a salve for external use and just smelling lavender essential oil or the fresh flowers can be a quick and easy mood brightener.
This herb is safe to be used in moderation during pregnancy (but beware- high doses can cause uterine contractions). Apparently, its safety while breastfeeding has not been tested, but again, in small doses (like a cup of tea or glass of lemonade) I believe this is a pretty safe herb.
 
Recipe for Lavender Lemonade (from The Vegan Table):
  • 5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups sugar or sweetener (or more or less to your taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped lavender leaves
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons worth)
  • Ice cubes
Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil, add sugar and heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lavender. Let cool until at room temperature (at least 30 minutes). The longer you let it steep, the more flavorful it will be and the more healing properties it will have. Strain out lavender. Add lavender infusion to remaining 2.5 cups of water and add lemon juice. Stir and add more sugar if needed. Chill and serve over ice. You can add a fresh lavender sprig for presentation if you want to be fancy!
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5 comments:

  1. I'm learning about lavender as well, at the moment. We have a lavender farm near us and I am gaining knowledge from the owners. I was surprised that certain varieties can invigorate. Made lavender cake yesterday and it was wonderfully refreshing!

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  2. I'm crazy for lavender! I'm putting in a new row of it along my southern foundation because the few plants I have are so wonderful. My neighbor has a lavender farm and sells all kinds of fantastic products and makes wands and such.

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  3. Sounds yummy! I've only used lavender culinarily once...in a lavender cake. Thanks for the other suggestions!

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  4. Interesting and important information. It is really beneficial for us. Thanks
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  5. Great work. Truly speaking I never seen a blog like that. Absolutely superb work. Good luck. Thanks for such an informative post.
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