To taste, lavender has spicy and bitter flavor. Taste on the tongue is what Ayurveda calls the rasa of a plant. Taste signals the digestive system of how to prepare for what’s coming.
The second signal a herb gives is the virya, the property of the plant that tells the body whether to cool down or warm up.
Lavender is definitely cooling.
Interestingly, lavender balances all 3 doshas, although I’ve definitely seen that if a person has a Vata imbalance, a cup of lavender tea can make them feel too spacey.
Lavender’s essential oil has a strong penetrating and disinfecting effect. It’s quite antiviral & antibacterial, and I used it during a 7-month travel in Africa to ward off mosquitos, and was pleasantly comfortable when other around me were being eaten alive by the buggers.
With that disinfectant quality, think about using it to purify the bedroom as you sleep, in a diffuser. One colleague Todd Caldecott recommends mixing it in 100ml water and spraying it locally during air travel, although people who are hypersensitive to smells might get headaches so it’s polite to check with the passengers around you first. A family member has this even with natural smells, so I’m always extra careful. I do, however, regularly open the essential oil bottle and sneak in a wiff or two several times on a long flight.
Areas of Action
Whether you thought about it or not, lavender is classified as a nervine, a herb that causes a relaxation response in the nervous system. That’s no surprise, and you may even already use lavender for anxiety, stress, tension, or sleep. But lavender can also be used not just in the mind but for physical symptoms, like pain travelling along nerves, sprained muscles and rheuma symptoms.
A fellow herbalist in Amsterdam, Lynn Shore, founder of Urban Herbology, taught me to use keep lavender essential oil in the kitchen & use directly on an acute closed burn. I had an incident a few weeks ago where I burned by hand with boiling water, and can confirm it took the heat out pretty quick.
One simple way to use lavender that most people haven’t thought to try it as a tea. If you have sleep trouble, think about drinking a cup around 20:30 or 21:00, about an hour and a half before you want to sleep.
And, remember the incredible Ayurveda trick of oil on your feet to help you sleep? Why not experiment with lavender oil if you don’t have ghee on hand?
So follow the lead, and let lavender start your gentle self-care revolution!
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