The long awaited soaking bath

Sometimes, if you want to work a wonder, there is nothing like a long soaking bath, and that’s just from soaking in water! Just imagine, if you added the wonders of herbs, infused and essential oils and other natural minerals, now what good could it do, and that’s just the aromas, but what if you actually hopped into the bath, double wow.

But seriously, a herbal soak or bath can do a lot of good, and I believe not only a lot of good directly to the body, but also to the mind and emotions. So having a good soaking or bath, is a true ‘holistic’ treatment’, as it affects the person in several different ways, not just one.

But there really is a lot more to a ‘soak’ than just hopping into a bath and putting in a few smelly things and away you go.

Now there are those who cannot afford a ‘whole’ bath load of water, due to reasons of location, supply, cost, and that they just don’t have one, amongst other possibilities. But, there is a very easy way around this problem, and they are your hands and feet. Now nothing seems to beat a full body soak, but for therapeutic benefits, you only need to soak your hands or feet.

The reason for this, is that the hot water actually stimulates blood circulation, due to the body moving blood to that ‘hot region’ in and attempt to balance the body’s temperature. As the circulation is being stimulated, the pores of the skin are opening up as it does when you are sweating, and then the benefits of the herbs can also move through, being distributed throughout the body.

Reasons why to have a Soak

One of the unique things about performing a soak or bath is that, even though you are trying to ‘get it through your skin’, the skin acts like a border control, managing and monitoring what and how fast things go through and into your body, therefore, it does provide some protection against an adverse effect.

A typical soak is very easy to organise, and this is especially true with hand and feet soaks, as a basic hand and foot soak only requires a few pieces of gear, which most people already have, keeping the cost down, and quick to organise.

Another reason why to have a herbal soak, is that if you are using certain herbs or oils, the aromas have their own therapeutic benefits, just as walking through a forest or flower garden, the aromas stimulate your senses, often adjusting your mood, therefore altering your very physiology and hormones, such as endorphins etc.

There is a gland found in the limbic system, which is about the middle of your brain, called the amygdala, and back in 1989 they found out that this gland stored and released emotional trauma. And, it is said that the only way to stimulate this gland is via ‘fragrance’, so if carefully chosen pure essential oils or herbs, such as rosemary are chosen, maybe the ‘tough’ emotional trauma could be healed? Begs thinking doesn’t it.

How to do Soak

Soaks or baths can be very simple to make or complex, depends on how ‘fancy’ you want to get, but even a simple one with just your feet can do much good, so don’t worry about getting fancy, but if you do want to try new things, then maybe you should get fancy.

The “very” basic process is this:

  • Boil a pot or saucepan of water with some herbs in it
  • Pour it into a bath
  • Hop in

And that’s it! I suppose you could get fancy and strain out the herbs before pouring it in, but there you go. Okay, okay, you probably should take some clothes off to.

When using fresh herbs, it is best to crush them before use, this is simply done by crushing them either in a mortar and pestle, under a rolling pin, or a bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin. This is especially so for a sitz bath.

One point that you should always adhere to with ALL types of baths and soaks, and that is to never use any soaps or detergents, as this will completely destroy the whole process.

A more detailed basic procedure for soak and baths

  • Prepare 1 Litre / 1 quart of a strong infusion or decoction
  • Pour it into a bath or large container suitable for either hands or feet
  • Do not go over 41C /105F
  • Soak for 20 minutes
  • Hop out and dry off and have some bed rest
  • It is best to do this 3 times per week

Rosemary or Lavender Bath

  • Prepare 2 Litres / 2 quarts of a very strong infusion with Rosemary
  • Strain out the herb and empty it into a hot bath (Deep enough to immerse the body in)
  • Soak in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Hop out and wrap yourself in a bed sheet still wet
  • Put a plastic sheet on your bed
  • Hop on your bed and cover up (You will sweat)
  • After the sheets have soaked up the moisture
  • Change into dry bed sheets and rest for an hour
  • Do this three times a week
  • You can use 30 drops or a dropper full of the tincture, but the raw herb is better.
  • Add 4 cups of epsom salts, to boost the affects (See safety warning below before using)

Choice of herbs for a Soak

The herbs that I am about to suggest, can also be swapped for essential oils at a rate of 10 to 15 drops to 1 Litre / 1 quart, of the mixture, not the whole bath full.

For raw herbs, a general rule of thumb, is 30 grams / 1 ounce of dried herb to 1 Litre / 1 quart of boiling water or 60 grams / 2 ounces to 1 Litre / 1 quart of boiling water. Boil them for about 15 minutes to make a strong decoction.

This is by no means a complete list:

  • Thyme, Peppermint: General tonic
  • Hops, Lavender, Lime flowers and Lemon balm: Encourages sleep
  • Lavender, Rosemary and Bergamot: Removes body odour
  • Chamomile Lemon balm, Passionflower: Hyperactive children
  • Valerian, Californian poppy, Chamomile, Damiana: Nervous stress
  • Mustard: Rheumatism (only 2 teaspoons)
  • Rosemary: Low blood pressure
  • Yarrow: Feverish

Variations of Soaking

Using a Herb Bag

To use a Herb Bag, is a simplistic system, but I find not quite as strong, where you place into a loosely woven cloth bag, such as, a muslin or nylon stocking, the herbs you want to soak in. Tie the bag at the top with a string or cord that is long enough to tie up the bag as well as tie to the bath tub tap. This is so that as the hot water is coming out of the tap filling the bath, it also runs through the herbs extracting the contents of the herbs.

A simple Herbal Bath Bag

A Sitz Bath

What is a Sitz or Hip bath, its simply where you ‘Sits’ in a bath, but in this case, it is only a shallow bath or container, which is just enough to sit in and bathe you ‘nether’ regions. It is used basically to treat the persons genitalia, infections, bladder infections, inflammation, prostate and haemorrhoids.

A sitz bath can be as simple as very warm water, or a complicated blend of herbs and oils, but either way, you only need to make enough that once you sit into the container, the amount will fully cover the area to be treated. If the bath is a bit too much to bear, but not too hot, then apply a cool cloth to the forehead, or stop.

Yes, sitting in a big bowl will look ridiculous, but it can do wonders and you will get quick relief, and promote faster healing too, something we all want. Sitz baths can be done several times a day too, and are great for Postpartum conditions, stitches and haemorrhoids.

Sitz bath Baby Style

The basic sitz bath procedure is to take 30 grams / 1 ounce of recommended herb, add that to 2 Litres / 2 quarts of freshly boiled water and allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain and pour into a container and just make sure that the levels reach the areas that are to be treated. Sit in it for 15 to 20 minutes, hop out and dry yourself off and wear loose clothing. This procedure can be done 3 times per day. Add more hot water if the bath loses its temperature.

If you have any dressings over a wound, you will need to remove this and replace once finished gently dried off and replace the dressing.

Another alternative if you are want to increase circulation, reduce inflammation and disinfect, is to make a solution by dissolving 0.5 grams of Potassium Permanganate crystals to 4 Litres of warm water (never hot), and make sure it is thoroughly dissolved.

A word of caution, do not spill ‘pure’ Potassium Permanganate anywhere on your body as it may cause harm, so wear gloves, but once diluted, it is very safe, also do not ingest it. Plus, it does stain, your skin and the bathtub/container for a while. It will not stain your skin ‘permanently’ as in, eventually it clears up, but the bathtub make need some hard cleaning.

My own supply of Potassium Permanganate, KMnO₄ otherwise known as Condy’s Crystals

Potassium permanganate, is simply called “Condy’s Crystals”, developed by a London chemist called Henry Bollmann Condy, and has been used since 1857 as a disinfectant, and is found in some chemists, and even rural produce suppliers.

Witch Hazel Sitz Bath

Make a very strong decoction with 60 grams / 2 ounces to 1 Litre / 1 quart of water, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, strain and pour into 4 Litres / 1 gallon of lukewarm water. Sit in this mixture and soak for 20 minutes. This process will give great relief to swollen tissues, reducing pain and promotes healing. A tablespoon of either myrrh or calendula tincture or succus will help if there is any infection.

Seaweed Bath

A Seaweed bath is both nutritive and even sleep restorative, and can be used in both a bath or a shower.

Grab a handful of fresh seaweed, lightly wash out any salt and sand, place this into a stocking or muslin cloth bag, and use it as a sponge and rub yourself all over.

Skin Washes

Skin washes are made in exactly the same methods and strengths as those written above, but are usually in smaller quantities. Here, you may only want to bathe a small area of the body, say just a foot or elbow, for example. But most often a skin wash is applied with a soft wash cloth or cotton wool, to sore, infected and inflamed areas.

An example of this could be to use a skin wash for cystic acne, where you would make a lukewarm mixture and then gently rub a soaked, but not dripping soft cloth on the skin in circular motions stimulating circulation, this can be done several times a day and continue until healing has taken place.

Epsom Salts Soak

Okay, okay, Epsom Salts is not a herb, but frankly it is an excellent addition to soaks and can be simply used on its own. It is a natural mineral substance. It will assist in drawing out gunk in the skin or injury, and increase circulation at the same time.

It is said to help greatly with, infections that are slow healing, septicemia, wounds, open ulcerations, pustules, bed sores, as well as aches and pains. This is due to supplying magnesium, which most people are usually deficient, and the sulphur, which acts like a disinfectant. (It is best to see a health care professional or hospital with septicaemia.)

Epsom Salt Bath (Hand or Foot)

Sometimes a foot bath can do so much

Apart from assisting with improving blood circulation, and saving water if you cannot prepare a bath, a hand or foot bath is good for dealing with fungal and other types of infections in the skin, fingernails and toenails.

Mixing rate: 1 cup of Epsom salts to 2 Litres /2 quarts of hot water, maximum of 41C / 105 F

Alternating Hot and Cold

A way of greatly increasing the effects is to alternate from a hot bath to a cold bath. Here you make the hot bath as hot as reasonable, but not so hot as to cause harm, and a cold bath with some ice floating in it. First, you need to make up the mixture described above, for the hot part, the cold part only needs to be very cold water, as it works by encouraging the tissues and vessels to shrink. Over a period of 20 minutes, you need to alternate about 3 to 5 times from hot to cold, and ending up in the cold soak for a couple of minutes.

This system is excellent for those with athletic injuries, such as, sprains and strains, pulled muscles, tendonitis and back strain.

Full Epsom Salt Bath

A Full Epsom Salt bath is a great way to treat the whole body, and here you could swap Epsom salt with Magnesium chloride, but it is more expensive. It helps with aches and pains and soothes the nerves. Its an adjunct to those receiving cancer treatments, drawing out toxins. As well as improving circulation and increases the heart rate. (Magnesium Chloride is better for magnesium absorption and absorption through the skin is better than oral intake.)

Mixing rate: 4 cups of Epsom salts to a bath of hot water, maximum of 41C / 105 F, and 1/2 to 1 cup of Magnesium chloride.

Those who have hypertension and a low red blood cell count should not have a full Epsom salt bath, only a hand or foot bath.

Safety

  • The first and most obvious, is to not burn, yes, you want it quite hot, but not to cause harm or injury. Stop, if it’s hurting.
  • If you have hypertension and a low red blood cell count, you should not have a full Epsom salt bath,
  • Do not have very hot baths if you have congestive heart failure.


Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“The dilemma with a hot bath is that it cures many things, except the bathtub ring”

Herbal Panda

The ever fragrant Rosemary.
The photo is taken from another garden I personally manage.

If ever Miss Lavender had a sister, as Miss Chamomile is really like a cousin belonging to the Asteraceae Family, it would be Miss Rosemary, I mean, she is literally from the same family, the ‘Lamiaceae’ family, so how can we argue. But as every sister is, they have their differences and therefore different preferences for style, colour, shades and hues, and here Miss Rosemary typically has dainty blue to pale lilac flowers that attract those ‘busy bees’, both the honey and native bees who buzz their way around Miss Rosemary’s flowers. Yet, she is not so well known for her flowers as beautiful as they are, it is her leaves they want. We should mention that she does have other flower colours which must be noted, such as white, pink and a darker blue, and so lovely, and these come from her various cultivars. Her flowers as good as they are, just haven’t caught the Herbalist’s eye as much as her leaves, which have the real efficacy, and this girls no ‘bimbo’ just flashing her colours, she has something to say and do.

Rosemary’s dainty blue/pale lilac flowers with her dark green/light green near linear revolute leaves

Lavender and Rosemary have the same heritage in that they both have a Mediterranean culture, where lavender came from the rocky hillsides of the Mediterranean and rosemary came from the seaside of the Mediterranean. This is probably why the name “Rosemary” comes from the Latin – Ros marinus, meaning – ‘Dew of the sea’, and the flowers smattered around the leaves could look like dew/salt drops just hanging there; what is your thinking?

Said to be written in cuneiform thousands of years before Christ, and then the next mention comes from the ancient Egyptians who used it in their burials, and after that the next mentions of rosemary was from the ancient Greeks such as Pliny the Great and Pedanius Dioscorides and the Romans. She even made it over to China after about 200 years, then to Merry Old England ‘officially’ around the 1300’s, and then America around the 17th century and from there she spread globally.

How to use Rosemary

The herb rosemary has literally many uses other than just culinary uses, which are fine, because hey, it tastes and smells great, and why wouldn’t you. So lets look at a few of them, there are bodily uses, such as, perfumes, in cosmetics, toiletries, soaps, shampoos, hair rinses for a hair tonic and conditioners. In potpourris, and used either in the dried leaf, in oil form or as a water and sprayed. To promote sleep, place a handful of dried leaves into a cloth sachet and put it under the edge of a child’s pillow. Rosemary is an excellent Mood Tonic, and dried bunches can be tied up in the air to act as a fly deterant and as a sachet again, it can be place into closets as a moth deterant as well. And finally have you tried ‘Spice balls’ for some unforgettable and wonderful aromas.

Medicinally, it can be used in herbal teas, liniments and a chest rub, in a wine (this is similar to a tincture), used as an essential oil, as a douche, and a warm douche for the vagina, or you can add the prepared liquid (decoction) for a Rosemary bath, Ahhhhh, I’m melting.

I won’t supply any recipes for meat dishes as there is just so many out there that are wonderfully made and easy to follow. Well, don’t let me stop you, off you go, find something yummy, and then write back and tell me about it.

Rosemary Tea

So easy to make:

  • Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves, or 2 to 3 teaspoons of chopped fresh leaves into a herbal tea infuser and place it in a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover to keep the volitile oils in
  • Steep for 5 to 15 minutes (longer times will be more bitter)
  • Add a little sweetener such as raw honey or stevia or erythritol

Rosemary Honey

  • Place a handful of chopped fresh rosemary leaves into a glass jar
  • Gently warm up some raw honey to thorougly cover the rosemary leaves
  • Make sure the leaves are fully mixed in and covered
  • Seal with a lid and place in a warm spot for at least 1 to 2 weeks
  • Warm gently to help strain out the leaves, and rebottle and label
  • Use it on buttered toast or whatever you like, so long as it tastes great

Potpourri

Potpourri Uplifter ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dried rose petals, plus a few buds mixed in for good looks
  • 1/2 a cup of dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 a cup of dried orange slices
  • 1/2 a cup of dried lemon slices
  • 1/2 a cup of lavender flowers and some leaves
  • And a spritz or two of Bergamot oil

Mix carefully and spritz it a few times whilst mixing gently and enjoy.

Note: You can make these from fresh ingredients and then dry them in the oven at 93C or 200F for two hours or until fully dried out.

Rosemary Liniment:

  • Place 50grams of chopped rosemary leaves into a glass jar
  • Pour 500mls or 1 pint of alcohol such as vodka over the leaves
  • Seal the bottle and place in a cool place
  • Shake the bottle vigorously each day
  • After 1 week, strain and label the bottle with its name
  • As needed rub onto stiff muscles and sore joints

Rosemary chest-rub

  • Put 3 to 5 drops of Rosemary essential oil into 2 teaspoons of almond oil
  • Rub onto the chest for relief of respiriatory distress

Rosemary hair rinse

  • Place a handful of squashed or well chopped rosemary leaves into mug
  • Pour in boiling hot water, and cover
  • Allow to steep for 15 to 20 minutes
  • When cool enough to use safely, and after shampooing
  • Strain and run the rinse slowly through hair, and thoroughly massage the scalp and gently rubbing the hair as well

Rosemary bath

The process shown below can used for other herbs such as lavender as well, which is more calming and less stimulating. It is easier to put in 30 drops of essential oil into a bath, but by making a decoction from rosemary leaves is far superior.

  • Place 4 handfuls of rosemary leaves into 1 litre of water
  • Bring it to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain out the leaves and pour into a already prepared bath
  • Optionally and better, you can add 4 cups of Epsom salts, which really does help
  • Soak wonderfully for 20 minutes

Rosemary does help to stimulate the vascular system whilst helping with the mood.

Gardening uses

Rosemary can be used as a ‘filler’ or a ‘thriller’ in both large pots and in gardens. Prostrate Rosemary, or creeping rosemary, R. officinalis prostratus, can be an interesting version to have in your garden due to its ‘prostrating/hanging’ branches. Or if it grows well in your area, rosemary is excellent as a hedge, beautifully screening out unwanted neighbours, whilst attracting bees and fragrance to your home. Rosemary is also a very good companion plant, working well with sage. Some veggies that companion plant with rosemary are beans, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots. Rosemary helps to repel most sap-sucking insects and is great for attracting ‘predatory’ insects to your garden, enabling more ‘organic’ control of pests.


How to grow Rosemary

From seed

  • Fill a suitable seed raising container with seed raising mix
  • Sprinkle some seed on top of the mix
  • Lightly rub you fingers over the top, gently rubbing the seed into the mix
  • Spray water lightly over the seeds and mix
  • Keep the mixture just on the moist side but not wet
  • Place a bag over the container, keeping the bag clear from the seed
  • It will take approximately 3 months before they germinate
  • Once they have begun to grow i.e. put out a few leaves, plant them into larger containers or in a suitable place in your garden
  • From seed, rosemary will take a ‘Very’ long time before you get a substantial crop, so I probably wouldn’t try

From cuttings

Cutings are the best and fastest way to get things going, saving you heaps of time.

  • Find a healthy rosemary plant
  • Find one with young healthy branches
  • Don’t use old woody branches
  • Unflowered cuttings tend to work better
  • Take off cuttings at about 8cm to 12cm long
  • These can be cut from the same ‘branch’, just don’t plant them upside down
  • Carefully strip off 4 – 5cm of leaves from off the bottom
  • Fill some pots with ‘cutting’ mixture
  • Push a hole into the mixture with a dibbler, a stick will do
  • Push the cutting into the mixture, at least one to two bare nodes into the mix
  • Press down and around the cutting to firm it in
  • Water the cuttings in carefully
  • Watering lightly every day for two weeks
  • Then water about every second day for about a month
  • At this stage you should have a reasonably healthy root system
  • Repot into a larger pot or plant into your garden

Also you can propagate through root division or by air laying.

Maintenence and Prevention

Rosemary tends to have five main pests or diseases, and they are:

Spittle Bugs

Small brown sap sucking insects called Spittle bugs, these leave small foamy white excretions, normally not a serious problem, but when you see them, hose them off with a jet of water and these foamy excretions from your plant.

Aphids and White fly

Sap suckers such as aphids and also white fly can harm your plant, and although you can use some chemicals on them, it is better to hose them off with a good jet of water, especially if you intend to eat the stuff.

Root Rot

Root rot is a sad one, as generally it is now impossible to fix. So the best thing to do is give the plant a eulogy and then throw it in the bin. Root rot is usually prevented by planting in well-draining soil and don’t water it too much. Pots and raised beds work well with rosemary.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew is often due to high humid conditions, poor ventilation, and moist and shady areas. Generally the best way to treat powdery mildew is a fungicide spray, so unless you have a natural version, you may not want to eat from it after that.

Prevention

This starts at planting, rosemary prefers lighter and low acid soils, so a little lime may be useful here. Do not plant your plants too close together and allow about 1 – 1.5 metres apart (3 – 5′ apart). Don’t plant in shady areas or damp places in your garden.

This large and healthy Rosemary is in an open and sunny position with plenty of drainage, and gets watered once a week

Collecting

Most of the leaves are collected in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off as this helps to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process, storage and ruining the supply later on.

To pick its leaves go out into your garden or wherever you planted it, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take some garden snips and carefully cut off a branch. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way, and don’t pick everything off, just cut off enough to do the job, that is, a few sprigs to stick into your lamb roast, for example.

As your picking them, beware of damaged, sick or diseased leaves and make sure your leaves are free from defects, such as, brown edges and yellow or dead leaves as these will ruin your pick, and won’t be as effective. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as aphids and spiders and insect eggs that can be found on these branches.

Drying:

The leaves need to be dried quickly in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils from time and heat. Spread out the leaves onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not piled on top of each other and the air can get around the leaves. The leaves once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the leaves, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.

If your worried about something getting on the dried leaves, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.

Storage:

Store your beautiful smelling rosemary leaves in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this. If you see any mould throw it out.

Macerating:

Macerating rosemary is best to be done in a glass due to its higher oil content.


Herbalism.

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Leaves and top sprigs

Dosage:

Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 1.5 – 3.0g per day

Main actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, circulatory stimulant, and hepatoprotective

Indications:

Improves memory, concentration, and mental performance, enhances phase 2 liver detoxification, a cardiovascular disease preventative, tension headache, and debility. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s – cerebral antioxidant, ADHD, slows ageing process. Topically – myalgia, sciatica, neuralgia, wound healing, and hair loss – alopecia

Constituents:

Essential oil – cineole, alpha pinene, camphor; phenolic diterpenes – carnosol, carnosic acid; rosmarinic acid, flavonoids, and triterpenoids

Safety Concerns:

Don’t take with mineral supplements

Adulterants:

This is uncommon



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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The very well known and popular sister flower to Chamomile is the delightful Miss Lavender, she doesn’t come over too strong, yet she is such a pleasure to be around and have around, everybody wants her as friend, and so she should be too. She is one of the best companions to have around when there is deep sadnesses and outward griefs, suggests Mr. Nicholas Culpeper, and here she is a worthy and good friend, especially in her oil form at this time.

Lavender or Lavandula angustifolia, or its synonyms Lavandula officinalis or Lavandula vera, which has many varieties, and has been widely used around the Mediterranean maquis (French), or Macchia (Italian), where the hillsides abound with rock and much native shrubbery, rocks and plenty of sun and dry weather for thousands of years. It should be noted that lavender is also a native to the Canary Islands (Spain), France and also to India, but now it is grown in many parts of the world, showing its great desirability.

Historically, it appears that it was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Arabs and Phoenicians, and then it was used by the Greeks and the Romans, and after that, it was brought over to England via the Romans through their conquest of that country, and then maintained by the monks within their gardens. Later on, it was grown in Surrey and Kent until the war there, but it is still grown in Norfolk, near Norwich, and probably in every other English country garden since. (And I don’t blame them!)

The word lavender comes from the medieval Latin ‘Lavandula’, across to the Anglo-Norman, ‘Lavendre’ all meaning ‘to wash’, as it was used by the Romans in their baths, probably with a floating duck. Many history buffs would have heard the term, ” Who will buy my lavender”, which was shouted amongst the many sellers of flowers.

How to use Lavender

Lavender has been used in numerous ways such as body soaps, shampoos, bath gels, shower rinses and other cleansers and detergents. Culinarily in jellies and vinegars and crystalised in confectionaries, plus the adventurously use it in biscuits and cookies. Lavender can be used with meats, such as, pheasant or venison, and I wonder if there is some chef somewhere who has used a flame thrower on them? (Remember, it is similar in appearance to Rosemary, and comes from the same family, therefore may have similar uses.)

Around the home, the flowers can be used in both washing the clothes and in the clothes drier, to instil a lovely fragrance into your clothes and bedding, or fragrance yourself by taking a bath in them or using the essential oils. The essential oils can be used around the home to repel bugs and insects off surfaces and off your family as I do, plus it can be used on its own or mixed with other oils, such as tea tree oil, to help with insect bites, such as ants, midges and mosquitos.

Due to its wonderful fragrance it is placed into cloth sachets and made into a sleep pillow and placed in or near a person’s pillow for restful sleep. It is used in many potpourris and perfumes, ‘well that was obvious’, as well as candles and furniture polish.

Medicinally, it has many uses, of which I will go into further along, but for now, I will break up some of the information mentioned above into more ‘useful’ advice.

Lavender tea:

Which can be made from both the fresh flower and the leaf tips at the top or from dried flowers. When using fresh lavender, just place a couple of small sprigs into a cup of hot water, cover and allow to steep for 5-15 minutes depending on how strong you want it, (15min is more therapeutic and stronger), and enjoy with a little honey, or stevia. When using dried flowers just use one teaspoon in a cup of boiling water, cover and allow to steep for about the same time, and sweeten if necesssary, and drink slowly.

Lavender bath:

To make a simple lavender bath, just grab appproximately 30grams of lavender flower and the tips if you have them, and place them into half a litre of water and bring to boil. Once it has reached boiling, take it off the heat, then strain out the leaf and flower matter and add to your bath water, and soak to your hearts content.

Lavender liniment:

Type 1) Bring to boil half a litre of water and half a litre of apple cider vinegar, then place two cupfuls of lavender flowers into the ‘just’ boiling water, turn off the heat and stir in, cover and allow to steep over night. Strain out the flowers and bottle with a label. Half a cup of this can be used in a lavender bath or you can rub it on as a liniment for dry skin, sore muscles and joints.

Type 2) Place 50grams of lavender flowers into a medium sized sealable jar with a lid, then pour in half a litre an alcohol solution such as vodka, and leave in a cool place out of the sunlight. Then allow the flowers to soak i.e. macerate each day, giving the bottle a good shake each day to assist the macerating process and after about 8 days, strain out the flowers and place into an amber bottle and label. Rub onto affected areas as needed.

Lavender oil:

This easy lavender oil is made from just 60grams of lavender flowers and one cup of olive oil. This same formula and process can be used for many versions of herbal type oils that can be used for massage and to help provide forms of relief, depending on what is the goal in mind.

Ingredients:

  • 60grams of Lavender flower
  • 1 cup of Olive oil, (Almond and Sunflower oils can be substituted.)

Equipment:

  • Heat source i.e. a stove/hotplate or similar
  • 2 litre glass, ceramic or stainless steel saucepan (Do not use iron or aluminium)
  • Scales suitable to measure 60 grams
  • 1 measuring cup of 250mls
  • Container to measure into
  • Bowel to squeeze into
  • A spoon for stirring
  • Temperature gauge to measure from at least 43 C to 49 C (110 F to 120 F)
  • Jar or bottle big enough to store the Lavender oil into
  • Cloths, 1 for straining and 1 for squeezing
  • Label and pen to write on the label, to label the bottle with the amount and date
  • Some form of press is beneficial, but not necessary (Just squeeze harder)

Procedure:

  • Place 60grams of Lavender into a saucepan
  • Pour in 1 cup of olive oil over the flowers
  • Slowly bring to the required temperature (see above) Never boil!
  • Maintain the temperature for 2 hours, whilst stirring regularly. You can actually heat for a whole week stirring daily, ‘the longer the stronger’
  • Heat until the flowers feel ‘crispy’, each herbal flower will be a little different
  • Strain out the plant matter into a clean cloth
  • Fold the cloth up and place into a press
  • Squeeze until you have extracted the oil
  • Pour into a suitable jar and seal and label
A simple Lavender Oil Recipe

Please remember, that this is only a quick and simple method, not the best and most preferred, but it is a good place to start learning, and you can still use the oil for massages etc. It is not an “Essential Oil” as that is made very differently and is many times stronger and should be used with more care.

Culinary

Lavender Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams of stevia/erythritol, you can use sugar, but honestly best not to
  • 100 grams of butter (not margarine)
  • 175 grams of self raising flour
  • 1 Tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh lavender leaves

Procedure:

  • Mix the sweetener and butter until light and creamy
  • Add the leaves and the flour to the butter mixture
  • Knead until it forms a dough
  • Roll out onto a floured board
  • Sprinkle the flowers onto the dough and roll in gently
  • Cut into a shape you like
  • Place them onto a greased baking sheet
  • Bake in an oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 230 C /450 F until firm and golden
  • Remove and cool on a wire
  • Enjoy,
  • ‘Disclosure’, well honestly, not everybody enjoys them

Potpourri

A Purple Potpourri:

Mix together an even and balanced mixture of

  • Lavender
  • PinCushion flower
  • Larkspur
  • Blue Salvia
  • Bachelor’s Buttons
  • Globe Thistle

Collecting

Most flowers are collected once they have bloomed and are in the early stage of maturity and in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off and this is to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process and ruining the supply later on.

To pick its flowers go out into your garden or wherever you can find wild growing lavender to collect the flowers, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take a small sharp knife or some garden snips and carefully cut off the flowers or you can pick the flowers by hand, picking them directly behind the the bud or taking some of the sprig depending on what you are to do. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way.

As your picking them, beware of damaged flowers and make sure your flowers are free from defects, such as, brown edges and dead petals as these will ruin your pick. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as spiders and caterpillars and insect eggs that can be found on these flowers.

Drying:

The flowers need to be dried in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils. Spread out the flowers onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not sitting on top of each other and the air can get around the flowers. The flowers once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the flowers, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.

If your worried about something getting on the dried flowers, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.

Storage:

Store your beautiful smelling lavender flowers in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this and if you see any mould throw it out.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Flower

Dosage:

2.0 – 4.0grams

Main Actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, antidepressant, and anxiolytic

Indications:

Anxiety, insomnia, excitability, nervous dyspepsia, mild depression, flatulent colic, intestinal colic, plus, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and tension headache

Constituents:

Essential oil – lineally and linalool

Safety Concerns:

If allergic to Lavender

Adulterants:

Sometimes it is adulterated with similar species



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au