Lavender Tide

Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) is in flower and has been for a while.  My Lavender in the front garden is probably Mitcham lavender, originally bred in Mitcham, Surrey.  It is very hardy and could well have been put in when the house was built 100 years ago.

Lavender flowersLavender is actually in the Mint family – Lamiaceae (formerly Labiateae) – if you look closely at the individaual flowers they are two-lipped and lavender stems are certainly square.

(Image on left from Wikipedia)

I associate Lavender with the beginning of the season of Lammas – Aug 1st – October 31st.  Lammas Day (Aug 1st) itself marks the beginning of harvest.  There is a connection with the Greek goddess Ceres or Kores, whose name gives us cereals or grains.  As flowerheads go Lavender does look a little like an ear of wheat….

Lavender in Herbal Medicine is a wonderful relaxant tonic, having especial affinity with the gut – it is ruled by Mercury which also rules the zodiac sign of Virgo, traditionally associated with the small intestine.  I think of Lavender as relaxing and toning the nervous system intrinsic to the intestine and it is also an autonomic nervous system balancer – promoting parasympathetic activity over sympathetic – put simply, we are all in a hurry and stressed today (sympathetic activity) but our bodies are happiest with calm and contemplation (parasympathetic activity) most of the time with the occasional mad dash to escape the sabre-toothed tigers.

Contrast Lavender with Rosemary which is more cerebral, hearty and stimulating for the upper digestion whilst still having a carminative effect (dispelling the curly wingles) on the gut.

Lavender users of the world, what do you think?


About donaldpurves

Traditional Herbalist since 1989, qualified originally with National Institute of Medical Herbalists (Tutorial Course, School of Herbal Medicine/Phytotherapy), joined Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners in 2011. University lecturer in Herbal Medicine since 2005. Born and brought up in the Scottish Borders. Higher Education at University of York (Biology 1980) and Scottish School of Herbal Medicine (MSc Herbal Medicine 2003). Married to Rukshana Afia, an artist working with drawing, textiles and ceramics. Passionate about environmental, economic and social justice.
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2 Responses to Lavender Tide

  1. rukshanaafia says:

    One of my all time favourites – as a colour and a perfume as well as a medicine

  2. Lavander reminds me of my mother who always grew it an always kept lavander bags in her clothes. So I think of Lavander as an emotional herb a comfort. Calming and relaxing but also healing so it makes sense for it to work on the gut because it makes so many things better. And the essential oil is the closest thing i’ve seen to a miracle on burns. I keep half a litre of it in the kitchen because i’ve found total immersion in the essential oil (after cooling the burn with water) prevents blistering and almost in some cases erases the effects.

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