Come summer and the picturesque fields of Sumbal, Aru, Budgam and Pulwama of Kashmir Valley witness the finest blossom of lavender flowers erupting in diverse hues of purples and violets. The flowers are fragrant in nature and have been used for in brewing up potpourri for centuries altogether. Lavender is essentially a perennial bushy shrub, 50 to 80 cm tall and possesses attractive spiky flowers. It was this spiky portion of the flower which was traditionally used by womenfolk to perfume themselves.
Revered in folk tradition to cool an overheated body, the spectacular flowers derive their name from the Latin word “Lavare” which means “to wash”. It is said that ancient Romans would religiously use Lavender extracts in their bathing rituals to calm their mind, body and soul. The delicate flower has its roots spread across diverse cultures and civilizations. Beginning with Persia, lavender was used by the Greeks to ease throat infections. The Middle Ages saw the flower blossom in European Herbal gardens to "comfort the stomach and the soul". The herb was also used in mummification processes in ancient Egypt, and was found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. A favorite for strewing on the floor to be crushed underfoot, lavender is often used these days in sachets to be placed amongst linens.
Popular belief has it that the flower was originally cultivated in Arabia, however, lavender may have been carried by Greek traders to France as early as 600 BC. Though native to the Mediterranean region, it is now grown in U.K, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Hungary, Morocco and the northern regions of India. The flower requires cool temperatures coupled with a moderately warm summer to blossom. This, coupled with the fresh mountain airs and pristine waters from Himalayan glaciers make the Kashmir Valley an ideal place for the Lavender to bloom.
Kashmiri Lavender yields the most versatile essential oil known to mankind; one which blends harmoniously with extracts of cedarwood, pine, clary sage, geranium and nutmeg to make the spa therapist’s dreams come alive.
Lavender Oil in Ayurveda
The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda reveals that Lavender Essential Oil holds the power to balance the problems of Vata (wind), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (phlegm). By balancing wind, it will calm down an over active mind to induce tranquility and peacefulness. By balancing fire, it will remove the excess heat in the body to bring clarity and by balancing phlegm, it lightens the human body’s tendencies towards lethargy. The three together make the oil whole.
From Flower to Oil – The Process
Lavender flowers blossom in Kashmir towards the last week of June, extending upto the very end of July. The flowers are harvested on bright sunny days when 50 – 60% florets are open. The spiky portion of the flower is put into water and boiled to extract its oil, the elaborate process called Steam Distillation. This oil is light and grassy with the lushest and herbaceous aroma, a whiff of which will take away your fatigue on a hot summer day. It is extremely beneficial in aromatherapy and is used in oils, gels, lotions and soaps. Kashmiri Lavender Essential Oil is known to add a brilliant lustre to the skin, balance the body and bring happiness and peace to the mind. Its cooling, relaxing and uplifting effects have been cherished by people across boundaries.
The Best Ways to Use Lavender Essential Oil
1. Rub the oil over your palms and inhale to calm the busy mind.
2. To inspire a tranquil ambience within your home, put it in a diffuser, sit back and relax.
3. To sooth insect bites or impart a natural glow to your skin, apply some Lavender Essential Oil topically.
4. For a good night’s sleep, sprinkle some Lavender Essential Oil over and under your pillow.
5. For those aspiring deep rest, mix 4 drops of Lavender oil, 2 drops of Roman Chamomile and 1 drop of Cedarwood oil and diffuse in the home.
6. To brew the perfect massage blend, add 4 drops of mandarin oil, 2 drops of grapefruit oil, 2 drops of Lavender Essential Oil and 2 drops of Roman Chamomile oil to 15 ml of Marula Oil and experience the most relaxing massage ever.
7. Lavender essential oil, when added to hot bath water in combination with Roman Chamomile, makes the best aroma bath.
8. For skin repair, mix 4 drops of Lavender Essential Oil, 4 drops of Helichrysum Oil and 2 drops of Rose Oil 15 ml of Aloe Vera gel and apply on the affected parts.
Health Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil
The health benefits of Lavender Essential Oil are enormous and we are going to take you through them bit by bit:
1. Bug Repellent The fragrance of Lavender makes it potent for repelling mosquitoes, moths and midges. Topical application of the oil both prevents insect bites and well as cures them.
2. Induces Quality Sleep The quality of the oil to induce a good night’s sleep makes it a natural treatment to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
3. Relieves Stress and Anxiety The calming scent of Lavender Essential oil soothes the nerves and calms an overly stressed and anxious mind. The oil can also be helpful in treating migraines, headaches, depression and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma removes nervous exhaustion and restlessness and boosts mental activity.
4. Acne Treatment Lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial treatments for acne. The oil inhibits bacteria that cause initial infections and can reduce the signs of scarring after the acne has begun to heal.
5. Relieves Pain The oil is an ideal remedy for pains caused by sore and tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache, and lumbago. A regular massage with lavender oil can provide relief from pain in the joints.
6. Treats Respiratory Disorders Lavender oil helps relieve throat infections, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis when used in vapor form or applied topically.
7. Ideal Hair Care Lavender essential oil has long been known for treating hair loss, lice, lice eggs, and nits. The rich oil is also used to prevent male baldness.
8. Aids Digestion Lavender oil is useful to stimulate digestion because it increases the mobility of food within the intestine.
9. Boosts Immunity Regular use of lavender essential oil makes the body resistant to a multitude of diseases like TB, typhoid, and diphtheria.
10. Treats Skin Diseases Lavender Essential Oil is used to treat skin disorders such as wrinkles, psoriasis, and more. Lavender oil is also added to chamomile to treat eczema. No doubt, this wonder of an oil was so cherished by our ancestors.