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We use highest quality French lavender (Lavandula Stoechas) which, when infused, is not only pleasant to drink (with purported health benefits), but a delightful addition to many baking recipes or to create lavender sugar.
Lavandula Stoechas is from the Lamiaceae family (which also contains plants like mint) normally growing up to about a metre in height and classed as an evergreen shrub. Its beautiful pinky-purply flowers appear in this country between late May and the end of July and sit on top of the thin green stems. Beautiful purple bracts sit on top of the spike but these most noticeable flowers are actually sterile. Lavandula Stoechas likes sunny conditions and alkaline soils and produces more pungent and thicker oils. In Australia and Spain, Lavandula Stoechas is classed as noxious weed. Lavender loves to be grown in pots with a little grit and some John Innes Number 3 and should be kept watered regularly throughout Spring and Summer.
Lavender has many purported uses in herbal medicine, however there are only limited clinical trials to research for its therapeutic use. Some people can be allergic to Lavender and it is recommended to avoid internal use during pregnancy. Throughout history Lavender has been used for pain relief, anti-fungus, sedative, anti-depressant, relief of flatulence and to assist in the formation of scar tissue. It has even been used, particularly in Spain as an anti-diabetic agent and in Chile to aid menstruation. We have even found out that in 16th century Europe, hats lined with Lavender were considered capable of increasing intelligence! The word Lavandula comes from the Latin word lavare and this also suggests its antiseptic and disinfectant abilities.
Today we think of Lavender as being calming. In a clinical trial relating to generalised anxiety disorder, an oral Lavender capsule was compared to a dose of Lorazepam (a chemical anxiety drug) over six weeks. The Lavender capsule reduced the Hamilton anxiety rating scale by 45% compared with a reduction of 46% for Lorazepam. Lavender is not clinically classed as a sedative and has no potential for addiction and therefore MAYBE a potential option for reducing anxiety. Another interesting study was carried out on 340 dental patients who were split into two groups. One groups waiting room was scented by lavender oil and one was not. Patients in the lavender scented waiting room interestingly reported lower levels of anxiety than those in the non-scented waiting room.
Drinking and inhaling Lavender in moderation is seemingly a relaxing exercise. People who are not purchasing Lavender for its purported health benefits will enjoy its pungent flavour and delightful aroma. Cooking with Lavender is great fun and here are some delicious lavender recipes including Lavender Sorbet, Lavender Roasted Potatoes, Lavender Mojitos, Lamb with a Lavender rub and 11 other delicious recipes that include Lavender.
Brewing Hints: Infuse for two - four minutes depending on your preference in water that has been freshly boiled.
Leaf: Lavender flowers
Characteristics: Pinky yellow liquor
Serving Suggestions: Drink without milk. Lavender can be a soothing drink before bedtime to settle into a relaxing sleep. Also can be used in baking.