Lavender, the balsamic and fragrant purple wave
Known for its color and scent since ancient times, today we rediscover the history, uses and benefits of the queen of aromatic herbs and the help it can give us against everyday stress.
Lavender: botanical anatomy
Lavender is a perennial, evergreen plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae family of which there are over forty varieties that differ in aesthetic characteristics, size, intensity of the scent and color. However, there is one property that remains unchanged in all species: the ability to grow and develop even in arid climates and in the almost total absence of water.
Lavandula Angustifolia also called Lavanda Officinalis is characterized by linear, lanceolate, narrow and intense green leaves. It grows in highly branched bushes with woody stems and is particularly suitable to decorate low ornamental hedges and avenues. Its inflorescences are carried by spikes that can contain a variable number of very fragrant and bright flowers between lilac and blue. The best time to admire the lavender fields are the summer months from June to the end of August.
Lavender: origin and habitat
The area of origin of lavender is the Western Mediterranean and the most famous region for its cultivation is certainly Provence, here there are endless fields whose colors and scents are said to have been a great inspiration for Impressionist painters.
In Italy it is present in a discontinuous way throughout the Tyrrhenian coast, with the exception of the islands. It is interesting to note that in Liguria the Lavandino is more present, a species born from the crossing of Lavender Officinalis and Lavandula Latifolia from which you can extract up to four times the essential oil but whose scent is considered less refined.
Lavender: properties and benefits
Of the lavender you can use the flower (fresh or dried) and the essential oil extracted from the inflorescences. The flowers are used for their sedative and antispasmodic properties; the oil for anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial ones. Thanks to its active substances that act in a sedative and calming way on the nervous system, lavender is very popular in herbal medicine for products that help against anxiety, nervousness, stress and insomnia.
Lavender is one of the ingredients you find in our Remedium n.6 – Relax, the herbal tea designed specifically to take a break, slow down and just dedicate yourself a moment of well-being. Lavender, together with rosemary, passion flower and verbena are capable of guiding you towards a slower, more conscious dilated breath in a moment you should set aside to fully welcome the present.
Lavender: how to use it
We bet that when we say lavender, the first thing that comes to mind, even before its bright color, is its scent which we immediately connect to the idea of cleanliness. Perhaps because it is traditional to leave a small bag in the closet or among the linen as a natural perfumer and as an anti-moth remedy. However, lavender has many other uses, including cosmetic and culinary ones.
Thanks to its antimicrobial action, lavender essential oil is often used in cosmetic products against acne, rosacea or eczema, and to reduce irritation and redness. While in the kitchen, the flowers give their best in desserts, but it can also be a secret ingredient for other unexpected preparations like a rub for grilled meat.
Lavender: fun facts
- The Latin name is used unchanged in the Italian language as the gerund of wash. Lavender, in fact, was already particularly loved at the time of the Romans who used it to perfume the water of the thermal baths where they met for a ritual moment of their daily life.
- Lavender attracts bees, which make great aromatic honey, but keeps mosquitoes at bay. On hot summer nights you can use lavender water as a natural remedy against their annoying bites or even to relieve itching.
- In his 1937 book Aromathérapie, René Maurice Gattefossé, the father of modern aromatherapy, describes how he seriously burned his hand during one of his experiments. Knowing that lavender was used in medicine to soothe sunburn, he immediately dipped it into a container filled with lavender oil that happened to be on his workbench and was so stunned by the results that this was the decisive moment that pushed him to further his researches in the therapeutic properties of this and other medicinal plants.
- Adriana Bonavia Giorgetti, L’arte di coltivare l’orto e se stessi. Ponte alle grazie, 2015
- Michael Putnam, Flower color theory. Phaidon, 2021
- Léa Maupetit, Fiori di stagione. L’ippocampo, 2021