Monday, November 17, 2008

Purple With a Purpose - What You Should Know About Lavender

Lavender is everywhere. A simple walk through the supermarket and you’ll find lavender candles, detergent, soap, fabric softener, air freshener, and body spray. There is no wonder that many companies take advantage of this thought after scent to improve upon or create new products. Lavender has been around for thousands of years and there are many reasons why. This fragrant purple flower can be used to cook, to sooth, or to add a pleasing scent to everything from clothing to the human body. Don’t just assume this pretty flower is only useful as a gorgeous centerpiece. Here is a quick rundown of the many uses for lavender.


Lavender has been around for quite some time. This multi-facetted plant has been used for over 2,500 years in a variety of ways by various groups of people. Some of its earlier uses can be traced back to civilizations like the Egyptians. In these cases, lavender was used to help mummify bodies and as a perfume. The use of lavender as a perfume continued on through the ages and even today it’s used as a fragrance in several household products including detergents, candles, and body sprays. Throughout history, lavender has also been used in cooking and medicine.


Cooking with lavender is something that’s been done for years, yet not many people seem be very aware of its uses in the kitchen. This mint relative can be used in everything from baked goods to soups. Individuals who choose to cook with lavender often use it as a replacement for rosemary or thyme in recipes.

Another great way to add lavender into your cooking is to make lavender sugar by simple throwing a few flowers or leaves into an air tight container with some sugar. Leave it there for a few days and the sugar will pick up the essence of lavender and you’ll be able to use if in baked goods. Still little weary of cooking with lavender but want to introduce it into your kitchen? Try using dried or fresh flowers to add color to your salads or dishes.

Note: If you do plan on cooking with lavender, steer clear of lavender that you purchase from a flower shop or a gardening center. These plants may have been treated with pesticides or other growth chemicals that are not suitable to eat.


Lavender is also used as an apothecary for several ailments that plague us. Having trouble going to sleep? The scent of lavender is attributed to relieving stress and anxiety by producing a relaxing sensation. Try inhaling lavender oil or burning lavender scented candles to help send you on your way to a peaceful night’s sleep. Some people even use lavender oil to help cope with the pain of headaches and migraines. This pretty purple flower also has some antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities that can help with skin inflictions such as acne and burns.

Bringing Lavender into Your Home:

There are several ways you can cash in on the benefits of this ancient plant. Here a just a few to get your started

  • Lavender Essential Oils: Essential oils can be ingested, inhaled or applied directly to the skin. Having a stressful day? Trying sprinkling a few drops onto your pillow before you go to sleep or putting a few drops in a warm bath.
  • Soaps: To really get the most out of your shower night or day, purchase some quality lavender soaps. You can use these soaps all around your house so put them anywhere you wash your hands.
  • Foods: Try introducing lavender into your cooking. Make some lavender sugar and try it out next time you’re baking for yourself. Gourmet food retailers often sell lavender products to eat or cook with such as lavender honeys, chocolates, and teas.

Note: Lavender is an allergen so before applying it to the skin or ingesting, but sure to test it out on a small patch of skin, for example on your inner arm.

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