by Kiva Rose
Common Name: Lavender
Botanical Name: Lavendula spp.
Energetics: Warm, dry
Taste: Aromatic, sl. bitter
A great indication that Lavender is appropriate as a nervine is when a person is anxious, confused and has a wrinkled forehead that can’t relax. The forehead will give it away every time. Lavender, being the botanical incarnate of a mother’s hug, will smooth away the furrowed brow and calm the troubled, busy mind. Like Pulsatilla, Lavender is a plant that can help us see through the eyes of a child, everything close up, comforting and lucidly tactile. I especially like Lavender where anxiousness is accompanied by despondency, a resigned sense of befuddlement and a bit of the moody blues. In these cases, the fragrant tea or tincture, has a wonderful way of lifting the spirits while calming and cheering.
Lavender has been considered either warming or cooling, depending on who you read or talk to. I find it to be gently warming and appropriate for people of most constitutions. It’s also both relaxing and stimulating, and has an invigorating effect upon the circulation and brain, while soothing the spirit, liver, heart and nerves.
Lavender’s nervine effects are well known and is very effective for anxiety, headaches and insomnia; but the extent of its influence is much wider that popular use would indicate. It’s a wonderful ally for use in liver tension and heat, where it is well combined with Rose to relax and soothe Hepatitis and other hot liver conditions. It’s also well indicated in many kinds of stress related heart arrhythmias, where it resolves tension and allows the energy to flow more smoothly through the heart. Even tension triggered asthma can be treated with this gentle and effective ally. Another stress related condition, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, with spasms and pain, is also often effectively treated with Lavender.
The key here is anxiety with some level of depression, either psychologically or physiologically, though they usually go together to some degree. Some have said it is most indicated where there is anxiousness from fatigue -- and while it is certainly very applicable there, I have also found it of great use in more robust individuals who simply have their energy a bit out of balance, where it’s stuck and hyperactive in one area but empty or underactive in another area. I find that it is an excellent agent for clearing stubborn, stuck Qi or vital energy nearly anywhere in the body.
Children with lots of nervous energy and a tendency to colic or easily upset bellies do very well with Lavender, and usually love the taste, especially if made as a honey or an elixir. Catnip can be added for extra effect.
For burns and wounds, there’s few herbs that heal and soothe more effectively than this one. I am very fond of a recipe of 1 Part Lavender, 1 Part White Sage and 1 Part Rose petals as a wash, salve, diluted tincture or other preparation for all sorts of abrasions and painful ouchy things. But even by itself, it stops pain and disinfects in a rather miraculous manner.
Lavender harmonizes well with many other herbs, and is especially lovely with Sage as a deep, nourishing nerve tonic and with Rosemary for depression with digestive sluggishness and upset. And, it's a classic combined with Rose for depression, sadness, broken-heartedness and the general blues. It's lovely alone or in formula for even small children or the elderly, or those weakened by chronic disease. For anyone who has a hard time sleeping because of pain or anxiety, a pillow stuffed with lavender flowers can help promoted relaxation and deep sleep.
Another great benefit of this plant is the fact that quality dried flowers can be used with excellent effect, and a very good tincture, oil or other preparation can be made from it without sacrificing much quality. When you buy Lavender, be sure to select VERY fragrant, vibrantly colored flowers. Don't settle for musty, gray fuzz from a silver bag! Much of this herb's medicine originates from its volatile oils, so the quality and strength of the scent is of utmost importance.
And anytime you miss your mother, Lavender makes a comforting and soothing herbal analogue.