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Edition 12: October 2009

Edition 12: October 2009

Essential Oil of the Month
Lavender
First Aid in a bottle

An exceptional essence, Lavender Essential oil is one of the most versatile oils and is handy to have around the house. With unfailing gentleness, it cares for, listens to and remedies a thousand ills. 
The name lavender derives from the Latin word lavera, which means 'to wash'. The Romans used lavender frequently in their bath routine, and it is said to have been introduced by them into England, where it soon was a firm favourite. It was used for strewing on the floor, since it released an aroma when walked upon.
The oil earned attention from Hildegard von Bingen, the medieval visionary, who recommended it for “maintaining a pure character”.
Lavender essential oil has been traditionally used in making perfumes due to its fresh fragrance. It is very useful in aromatherapy and its use is prevalent in many aromatic products.
A lavender oil of quality can lend a lively and spicy note to perfume blends; however it can also spread an atmosphere of cleanliness, pedantry and rational order when used alone. Ideal for the linen cupboard, but not the romantic boudoir! 
Comforting and reassuring, lavender balances mood swings and counters depression, easing anger and frustration.
It can be very helpful in calming hyper children, soothing their anxiety and fears. Lavender will alleviate pain when over-excitement is the cause and exert a comforting effect on mind, body and soul.
When gnawing thoughts have caused us tortuous headaches or cramped and painful shoulders, lavender will calm the cause; the overwrought nervous system itself. The speed with which the message of “relaxation” is transmitted to all parts of the body manifests the Mercury character of Lavender and is indeed truly amazing.
Lavender soothes the sense of trauma that inhibits self-expression, by releasing mental energy that has become stuck in habitual behaviour; especially when it results from a build-up of unexpressed emotion.
Diminishing the emotional intensity of memories allows a feeling of security. Clearer communication between the mind and body restores inner trust. When calmness prevails healing begins.
Using lavender at bed time induces sweet dreams and leads the dreaming body through the labyrinths of the astral plane, also helping to remember the teaching of dream states.
Use lavender on the crown chakra on top of the head to release the built-up physical pressure and promote relaxation.  Massaging the temples and forehead helps bring patience and calm into your life. Apply pressure on the bridge of the nose to help alleviate depression. Massaged into the solar plexus, it helps calm extremes of emotion. Regular use of lavender encourages the integration of our spirituality into everyday life.


Using Lavender Oil can ease many ailments, including:
Nervous system: Soothes and calms the nerves, relieving tension, depression, panic, hysteria and nervous exhaustion in general and is effective for headaches, migraines and insomnia. Lavender essential oil induces sleep and hence it is often recommended for insomnia. A drop or spray of lavender on the pillow will improve quality of sleep and supposedly decrease the amount of snoring.
Respiratory Disorders: Very beneficial for problems such as bronchitis, asthma, colds, laryngitis, halitosis, throat infections and whooping cough. The oil is either used as vapour or applied on the skin of neck, chest and back. It is also added in many vapourisers and inhalers used for cold and coughs.
Pain Relief: Relieves pain when used for rheumatism, arthritis, lumbago and muscular aches and pains, especially those associated with sport. A good massage with lavender oil provides relief from pain in the joints and muscle tissue. This is true also for headaches; massage the oil into temples, scalp and neck. For women, a lavender massage helps restore hormonal balance, calms menstrual cramps and helps ease the birthing process.
Urine Flow: Lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders, as it stimulates urine production and reduces cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces any associated cramps.
Skin Care: Cosmetically, lavender oil tones and revitalises and is useful for all types of skin. It eases problems such as abscesses, acne, oily skin and boils.
A superb antiseptic, lavender heals wounds, cuts, burns and sunburns rapidly due to its cicatrisant properties, helping the skin heal faster and the cytophylactic properties will help it do so with less scarring.
Lavender oil is one of the few essentials oils that can be used neat on the skin, and this is especially useful when treating a minor burn wound. (It can be applied with wet cotton wool.) It appears to stop cell damage and stimulate the rebuilding of the cells that are damaged. Sensory nerves are calmed, thus soothing the pain response; lavender’s anti-infectious activity is also of benefit when treating burns.The cooling and anti-inflammatory action of lavender oil also has a balancing action on the skin and can be used for dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis (chamomile is often added to a blend). When employing the anti-inflammatory action of this oil, use in concentrations of less than one per cent.
It will also counter the itching effect of insect bites and act as an insect repellent. Other health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to treat leucorrhoea.
Hair Care: Lavender is useful for the hair as it can be very effective on lice and lice eggs or nits. It also combats alopecia and scalp irritations. 
Blood Circulation: Lavender oil is also good for improving blood circulation. It lowers blood pressure and is used for hypertension.  Being cooling, it can also lower the body’s temperature during feverous conditions.
Digestion: Massaged into the belly, lavender oil is useful for digestion as it increases the mobility of the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile and thus aids in treating indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhoea. According to Oriental medicine, it regulates and cools an overheated liver. 
Immunity: Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to diseases. A generous spray with lavender will create an anti-viral shield about your person which is invaluable for travel, plane flights and other infectious communal situations. 


Fact File

Name: Lavender Essential Oil
Latin name: Lavandula angustifolia,
L. officinale, L. Vera, L. Stoechas (French lavender),
L. Allardii, L. x intermedia (lavandin hybrid)
Characteristics: Lavender oil has a herbaceous fresh aroma, softly floral and bittersweet. It is clear in colour and watery in viscosity. Lavender oil is extracted mostly from the purple-blue flowers of the evergreen, woody shrub, primarily through steam distillation. Several species are used all yielding a similar oil.
Main therapeutic properties:  Antiseptic, analgesic, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, anti-rheumatic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, bactericide, carminative, cholagogue, cicatrisant, cordial, cytophylactic, decongestant, deodorant, diuretic, emmenagogue, hypotensive, nervine, rubefacient, sedative, sudorific and vulnerary.
Lavender oil blends well with: many other essential oils including citruses, cedarwood, pine, clary sage, geranium, and nutmeg.
 


What Herb is That?
Valerian
Sleepy herb drives cats wild

VALERIAN is native to Europe and Asia, and now grows in most parts of the world.
The name is believed to come from the Latin word valere, meaning to be healthy or strong.
Use of valerian as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment has been reported for more than 2000 years. For example, in the 2nd Century, Galen recommended valerian as a treatment for insomnia. Related species have been used in traditional Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine.
In the Middle Ages, the root was used as a medicine, a spice and even as a perfume. It was the custom to lay the roots among clothes as a perfume.
Valerian has an effect on the nervous system of many animals, especially cats, which seem to be intoxicated by its scent.
It is scarcely possible to keep a plant of Valerian in a garden after the leaves or root have been bruised or disturbed in any way, for cats are at once attracted and roll on the unfortunate plant.
It is equally attractive to rats and is often used as bait by rat catchers. It has been suggested that the famous Pied Piper of Hamelin owed his irresistible power over rats to the fact that he secreted Valerian roots about his person.
Valerian was first brought to notice as a specific for epilepsy by Fabius Calumna in 1592, after he cured himself of the disease with it.
Gerard (1597) tells us that herbalists of his time thought it “excellent for croup and other like convulsions… and also for those that are bruised with falls.” The dried root was held in high esteem as a medicine among the poorer classes in the northern counties and the south of Scotland.
Use during world wars
During the world wars, when air-raids were a serious strain on the overwrought nerves of civilian men and women, valerian, prescribed with other simple ingredients, was taken and proved wonderfully efficacious. 
Valerian is of especial use and benefit to those suffering from nervous tension, anxiety, over-excitability and hysterical states. It is calming without exerting too sedative an effect and is practically non-addictive, possessing none of the after-effects produced by narcotics.  
It is a valuable treatment for insomnia, the sedative effect due to the valepotriates and the isovaleric acid, which is also responsible for the characteristic smell of valerian.
Several studies in adults indicate that valerian improves the quality of sleep and reduces the time to fall asleep (sleep latency), for up to four-to-six weeks. Ongoing nightly use may be more effective than a single dose, with increasing effects over four weeks. Better effects have been found in poor sleepers.
The root has been employed as an anti-convulsant in epilepsy. Having also some slight influence upon the circulation, slowing the heart and increasing its force, it has been used in the treatment of cardiac palpitations. It also has a strengthening action on the heart, and experiments indicate that it can lower blood pressure.
Valerian helps allay pain; it influences the cerebro-spinal system, and is used as a sedative to the higher nerve centres in conditions of nervous unrest, St. Vitus's dance, hypo- chrondriasis, neuralgic pains and others.
The herb also has an antispasmodic action, making it an appropriate remedy where pain is associated with tension. It helps relieve dysmenorrhoea and it can be of benefit with migraine and rheumatic pain. It may also be applied locally as a treatment for cramps and other muscle tensions. (A warm compress of the herbal tea will do the trick)
Valerian may used as an expectorant to help relieve tickling, nervous coughs.


Fact File

Name: Valerian
Latin: Valeriana officinalis
Description: Valerian is a common perennial herb, up to 1.5m tall, with erect, fluted stems and numerous small funnel-shaped flowers, white tinged with pink. The herb has a camphoraceous, slightly bitter taste and a characteristic, powerful and disagreeable odour, which gradually develops during the process of drying. The odour of the fresh root, though not very agreeable, is devoid of this unpleasant odour. 
Actions: Sedative, relaxant, mild anodyne, hypnotic, spasmolytic, carminative, hypotensive, expectorant, diuretic, warming.
Indications: Hysterical states, excitability, insomnia and disturbed sleep patterns, hypochrondriasis, migraine, cramp, intestinal colic, rheumatic pains, dysmenorrhoea.
Caution: Continual use or high doses of Valerian may cause headaches, dizziness, muscular spasm and palpitations.

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