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My granny always kept a wee pouch of dried lavender under her pillow as she said it helped her fall asleep. Again she was right as lavender is a mild sedative and the oil of lavender is used to make many different medicines.
Various studies have shown the powerful effect lavender has on brain activity – including nerve and mood responses. Inhaling lavender increases theta and alpha electrical signals in the brain and study participants who inhaled lavender were more active, relaxed and felt fresher than subjects who didn’t. There are a number of studies showing lavender as an effective treatment for insomnia, anxiety, depression and fatigue.
A 2010 study published in International Clinical Pharmacology compared lavender to lorazepam, a benzodiazepine (a type of psychoactive tranquilliser), and found for most of the test subjects lavender worked just as well as the drug.
Whilst lavender has not been scientifically linked to weight loss, getting adequate sleep has. In fact a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2011 showed that getting enough sleep radically improves the treatment of obesity and that when we don’t get enough we are more likely to put on weight. With this in mind, using lavender to help us relax and get a better night’s sleep is just as important as the antidepressant properties of this plant.
Lavender can be grown on a windowsill and then planted in the garden or potted in a window box or patio. Seeds will germinate in around two weeks but may take a while before the plant starts to look like lavender and flowers appear. Lavender prefers a poor soil and is perfect for dry rugged places in the garden.
If you grow or buy food-grade lavender then it can easily be added to meals. Most of us don’t consider lavender as a foodstuff but it is regularly added to dishes in upscale restaurants and artisan food products. It’s actually a member of the mint family and is also related to rosemary and sage. Why not try rubbing lavender on to lamb or duck, or even grinding it with sea salt to create lavender salt which can be added to butter for roasting potatoes and vegetables. It also tastes great in ice cream!
Even if you don’t fancy cooking with lavender having it around the house and garden will fill your home with its relaxing aroma and you can dry the leaves and petals to use in the bath or for stuffing into your pillow just like my granny used to do.