What can I say about lavender that you don’t already know? I am sure that you already use it in essential oil form as relief for stings, scalds and burns and as a relaxant if you can’t sleep. The first words that come to my mind to describe the herb are: uplifting, aromatic, relaxing and healing. If you are going on holiday or out walking, it is the first thing to put into your first aid kit.

At this time of year you may be like me, debating whether to harvest your precious lavender crop from the garden or leave it for the proliferation of bees who are humming amongst it. I’ve decided on the latter as my hedge is only in its second year of growth and it takes an awful lot of prime flower heads to distil just 500mls of aromatic water and 5-10mls of essential oil. I suspect that, should you harvest yours, you might be using it to keep clothes moths at bay by stuffing it into lavender bags, or perhaps you are venturing into making lavender shortbread or flapjack rather than distillation.

The lavender that I use medicinally is Lavandula angustifolia and I use it in the formulation of prescriptions for patients in the following forms: a distilled tincture, aromatic water, essential oil and the dried herb (in teas). I often use the tincture in formulae for patients with anxiety, stress or sleep issues. I find that it works very well in small amounts when combined with Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) to alleviate anxiety. Toddlers and fractious babies usually succumb to sleep with one drop of the essential oil on a muslin square tied to their cot side, and if they don’t there are plenty of other options in my dispensary. Consultations for help with anxiety, sleep and stress issues are available at Summertown Clinic on Thursdays.

I urge you to inhale the lavender deeply while the sun shines, but take care not to disturb those industrious bees!

For an appointment with our medical herbalist – Lizzie Foulon please contact our clinic on 01865 558561

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