The landscape of the south of France is painted with broad strokes of gorgeous purple in late summer each year. Endless acres of amethyst-hued lavender flowers sway in the gentle breezes, awaiting harvest and processing.
For thousands of years, locals have cultivated these fragrant flowering Mediterranean plants for their healing and soothing essential oils. Lavender’s very name, derived from Latin, means “to wash.” Lavender has been used to lightly perfume soaps for countless centuries. It’s also used to impart delicate floral notes to baked goods, and it appears in the fragrant culinary herbal collection known as herbs de Provence. Lavender flower honey is highly prized; research shows that it’s an excellent wound dressing, which promotes healing while fighting infection.
Lavender flowers scattered under your pillow are reputed to bring restful sleep. A lavender tisane (a sort of herbal tea) is believed to be a calming beverage that may promote restful sleep. When diluted with other ingredients, lavender oil can be used as a treatment for acne and other skin ailments, and research suggests it may be useful for the treatment of fungal infections, too. For example, it’s been shown to possess the ability to inhibit the growth of species such as Candida albicans, which is often involved in vaginal yeast infections.
Zuzarte M, Gonçalves MJ, Cavaleiro C, Canhoto J, Vale-Silva L, et al. Chemical composition and antifungal activity of the essential oils of Lavandula viridis L'Her. J Med Microbiol. 2011 May;60(Pt 5):612-8. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.027748-0. Epub 2011 Feb 14.