Lavender: Herb of the Week

Lavender is one of the plants in our logo, and has been since I began working as an herbalist. When I first started practicing, I wanted to choose a plant that would be relevant. I loved the stories about old apothecaries who had signs without words, because the general population didn’t read, but they were all so familiar with coltsfoot or rose (depending on where the story came from) that simply the picture of that plant meant “apothecary” or herbalist.

An Herb for Our Times

As we were making our way toward Y2K, I wondered what plant could be so relevant to society today that simply the image of it would evoke “better health”. I looked around me and saw everyone working too hard, saturated by media, and with very little downtime – lavender’s relaxing actions seemed ideal!

Fast forward nearly 20 years, and hooboy: I guess we did need it, because now lavender is EVERYWHERE! And, it seems, people are even busier now than they were back then! Although in some ways, lavender is overused in products today, I still think it’s a very important ally for our current society. (The other plant in our logo, sage, grew in when ryn and I started practicing together!)

A Soothing Scent

Lavender essential oil is everywhere these days, but I prefer working with the whole plant. The scent of the whole lavender is deeper and fuller than that of the light and sometimes sharp scent of essential oils. I like to hang dried lavender, still on the stalk, in my home – it’s lovely to look at and it smells nice!

Regardless of which form you work with it in, a lot of that relaxing action does come from the volatile oil content: the smelly part. Those volatile oils are nervous system sedatives, perfect for when your brain is on overdrive.

Digestive Aid

Lavender isn’t just about the smelly part – it’s also a bitter, and that means digestion! Anything with a bitter flavor is going to stimulate digestive secretions when you taste it, but with lavender, you’ve got an amazing combo formula, all in one plant: the relaxing aromatic effect (which you get when you smell your delicious cup of tea), which can help you drop into your parasympathetic “rest and digest” state, plus the bitter flavor that stimulates and improves digestive function. It’s just perfect for dining in today’s high-stress “fight-flight-freeze” world.

The bitter flavor of a cup of lavender alone might be less appealing than if you blend it with friends – I love a simple blend of lavender and sage – just like our logo! Sage also has digestive bonuses, but I’ll save that for next week, when sage gets center stage!

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