Few flowers or plants have the multitude of uses that are found with lavender. First harvested in the wild by inhabitants of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea – its natural habitat – lavender came to be specifically cultivated in herb gardens for its many medicinal and therapeutic properties. Lavender’s remarkable calming and soothing properties led to its widespread use in the ancient Roman baths as one of the most popular ingredients in massage oils.
Lavender was notably featured in “Physica” – the 12th century treatise written by the extraordinary medieval abbess, Hildegard von Bingen and believed to be the first definitive European manual on the use of herbal medicines. She found it particularly beneficial in the treatment of what appear to be migraine headaches that accompanied some of the visions she described in her writings.
In addition to these soothing properties that led to its widespread use as a sleep inducer, lavender’s all-natural disinfectant properties led to its widespread use in the prevention of skin and wound infection, long before anyone knew anything about microorganisms, let alone antibiotics. The subsequent discovery of its dramatic topical anesthetic properties led to its use in burns and in salves for insect bites, skin irritations and other symptomatic rashes. The natural therapeutic uses of lavender represent one of its more interesting and well documented applications, particularly in an age when many are looking away from artificial chemicals for both therapeutic and preventative healthcare products.