Lavender is a perennial plant of the lacustrine family that is widely used in cooking, cosmetology and perfumery. This plant has been used to flavor hot baths since ancient Egypt and Greece. Today lavender is grown in whole plantations, essential oil is made from its leaves and flowers.
Cultivation of this plant, which has a pronounced pleasant aroma, began in ancient Egypt, where the leaves and flowers of lavender angustifolia were used in perfumery, aromatherapy, trade and during religious rites. Lavender essential oil was used in embalming blends. It was considered a sacred plant, and subsequently Christians also began to give it sacred properties. According to their legends, Adam and Eve, when exiled from Paradise, managed to take with them only two plants - rosemary and lavender, which were supposed to brighten up their earthly existence.
Subsequently, the plant began to be cultivated in Europe, using it as a fragrant, it was believed that its aroma scares away evil spirits. The first perfume, which appeared in the XIV century, contained essential oils from lavender flowers, their composition was considered magical - the perfume was credited with the properties of preserving female attractiveness and prolonging the youth of their owner. Today, when few people believe in magic, lavender is still in demand for its aromatic and medicinal properties.
In Russia, lavender was recognized only after the Patriotic War of 1812. At first, it was grown only in greenhouses and botanical gardens. Today it grows in the territory of Ukraine and the Krasnodar Territory.
How lavender oil is obtained
To obtain aromatic extracts, methods such as enfleurage (extraction with refined animal fat) and oil distillation were previously used. Today, in factories that produce lavender essential oil from freshly picked flowers, steam distillation is the most common method.
The resulting oil has almost no color, viscous, but at the same time light, it mixes well with other essential oils and allows you to make excellent harmonious perfume compositions with oils of fennel, pine, clove, cinnamon, ginger sandalwood, patchouli, myrrh, myrtle, tea wood, rosemary. In various combinations with these oils, it is used in aromatherapy, cosmetology and perfumery.
The quality of the oil, which also affects its aromatic properties, depends not only on the quality of the raw materials, but also on the place of its growth, as well as on how far from it the production is located, because the raw materials must be fresh. The highest quality and most expensive oil is French-made, where factories are located next to plantations where lavender is sown and grows. English oil, which has a specific aroma that only specialists can distinguish, is less valued. Lavender essential oil from the fields of Australia and Crimea is in the middle price range.
The chemical composition of lavender essential oil is quite complex, it contains esters of alcohol, as well as acetic, butyric, nylon and valeric acid. Its aroma is influenced by the concentration of substances such as caryophyllene, lavender, borneol and geraniol. Lavender flowers contain ursolic acid, coumarin and herniarin, tannins and resins are present in them.
The scent of lavender itself has a therapeutic effect, but its leaves and flowers have other medicinal properties. In folk medicine, they are also used in the form of infusions and decoctions. These decoctions are a good diuretic and sedative, recommended for people with a nervous and irritable personality. A cup of a decoction of flowers and twigs of this plant, drunk before bedtime, will become an excellent antidepressant, relieve stress, and help restore sleep.Calms the nerves, relieves irritability and banishes insomnia and a drop of lavender essential oil applied to the pillow.
Lavender oil can be applied to fabrics without the fear of leaving marks. After drying and evaporation, no traces of oil remain.
Baths with strong lavender infusion help with heart disease. They are recommended for those who are undergoing rehabilitation after a stroke, as well as those suffering from tachycardia, palpitations, rheumatism. Doctors recommend rubbing the chest in the area of the heart with essential oil - this helps to normalize the heartbeat, and rubbing your temples with it, you can get rid of dizziness. Lavender preparations are a good antiseptic, they can be used to disinfect wounds, treat dermatitis and other skin diseases. Lavender oil can even cure such a serious disease as a fungus. But it should be borne in mind that contraindications to the use of such drugs are individual intolerance and aversion to the smell of lavender, it is also not recommended to use it in the first months of pregnancy and in the first weeks after an abortion.
The use of lavender in cooking and everyday life
In addition to medicine and perfumery, lavender is used in cooking as a seasoning, which is especially popular in southern Europe - in Italy, Spain, France. Dried and crushed flowers are added to soups, sauces and salads, mushroom, meat and vegetable dishes. In the US, crushed lavender is used as a pepper, and the Chinese add it to add flavor to herbal and jasmine green teas. In Russia, lavender leaves were used to lay layers of apples soaked in barrels, and they were also added to herbal teas and teas. Dry lavender stuffed into linen bags served as a fragrance for bed linen, and lavender soap was also used in this capacity.