History of Lavender
The history of lavender has over 2500 years of recorded use. Some varieties of the plant may have been domesticated in Arabia. The plant was sold by Greek traders around 600 bc to the Hyeres Islands off of France. Then it spread to France, Italy, and Spain. Lavender's first recorded arrival on the North American continent was by the English Pilgrims in the 1600s.
The uses of lavender is not new, it's been documented for ages. Some of the uses are still being used today or are being rediscovered.
The word lavender comes from the latin word lavare, which means to wash.
The Egyptians used lavender for mummification. They even made stills to extract the oil.
Egyptians made perfumes. In the tomb of Tutankhamun, urns were found with traces of lavender fragrance in them.
Solid cones of unguent was placed on the heads of wealthy men and women. As they melted the scent of lavender perfumed their bodies.
It is said that Cleopatra seduced Julius Caesar and Mark Antony while wearing perfumes with lavender in it.
The history of lavender, folklore and love is intriguing.
The Greeks liked to anoint their feet with lavender.
The Romans have a long history of lavender. They used it in linen drawers, and used it in the laundry, they even hung it on their beds.
Romans would use lavender oil on their hair, bodies, and in the public baths. They loved the scent and used it freely. I have to agree with them, it is pretty wonderful.
Roman soldiers used lavender for healing wounds and to fight infections.
In history, lavender was used as a general mood tonic, to lift the spirits and for calming.
They also used it to treat head lice, and to repel insects and moths.
Lavender was even mixed with other herbs and smoked.
The history of lavender and religion goes back to the story of Adam and Eve.
Medieval and Renaissance laundry women were known as "lavenders," because they placed lavender in the linens or draped cloths over lavender shrubs to dry. They washed cloths in lavender water. The poorest women who were lavenders had the reputation of being prostitutes.
Queen Elizabeth the 1st had frequent migraine headaches and drank lavender tea. This made lavender very popular at that time. Lavender farms became more common then.
The wife of King Charles the 1st, (Henrietta Maria) introduced lavender soaps, potpourri and using lavender waters for washing and bathing.
Queen Victoria loved lavender so much she had it used to wash the floors and furniture. Lavender sachets were used in the linens and cloths. This became a very fashionable fragrance among all the ladies at that time. I agree with her, it is wonderful!
In London lavender was sold mostly by gypsies.
In the 16th century France, lavender was used as a protection from infections.
In the 16th century after King Henry the 8th got rid of the monasteries, lavender became a popular plant grown at the manor houses. Ladies of the manors made their own scented waters, beeswax furniture polish, gifts and scented bags. Lavender was associated with cleanliness.
The history of lavender in the 17th century was lavender as a cure all. They used it for headaches, nerves, insect bites, mad dogs and snake bites.
During the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, a bunch of lavender was tied to each wrist to protect against infection. The grave robbers used to wash in Four Thieves Vinegar, which contained lavender. They rarely become infected. Another source says the four thieves went into the homes of the plague victims. They said they oiled themselves with a a mixture of equal amounts of lavender, absinthe, rue, sage, mint and rosemary mixed in vinegar.
Lavender had the reputation of being a miracle plant during the 19th century. It was the most important remedy in the first aid kits for anyone in the provence. It was used for everything from dizziness, nerves, stomach problems, poor vision, infections, convulsions, viper's bites, swooning fits, and palsy.
In the First World War lavender was used as a antiseptic.
They would have dogs sleep on a bed with lavender to rid it of fleas. I would think that this worked for the people as well.
Lavender was important to the shepherds in the fields. It was used to disinfect wounds, sores and even the umbilical cords of lambs.
To get rid of head lice, lavender oil was applied to the scalp for 20 minutes before rinsing.
Lavender was used for insect bites, burns and to accelerate healing.
Lavender oil was rubbed on the chest for colds and bronchitis at night. Sometimes it was mixed with thyme and inhaled. Both lavender and thyme is known today to be good against bacteria.
The elderly used to mix it with a carrier oil and rub it on painful joints.
To cure headaches, litle bags of lavender was worn around the neck. A nobleman had a red silk bag, and a commoner used a muslin bag. This was also to ward off diseases.
Lavender oil and burn treatment have a long history. A French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse in the early 1900 was working in his lab and burned his hand severely. He then stuck his hand in a nearby container of lavender oil. He discovered his hand not only stopped hurting, it healed faster and didn't scar.
Science is now looking at lavender in cancer treatments. Studies have shown it to reduce the size of breast cancer in mice.