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Lavender Past and Present

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When you hear the word “Lavender” do you also imagine the picture perfect blue lavender fields in France or does it hold some other dear memory like the smell of clean linen or a fluffy towel or a person?

Either way, Lavender is not only powerful, human’s association with lavender goes back a long time.

Lavender is a derivative of the Latin word ‘lavara’ which means to wash.

Lavender dates back approximately 2500 years and it is suggested through ancient texts that it was first used by the Egyptians for its perfume and also used with the embalming process of mummification.

The most famous of these texts is found in the Bible where Mary used it first on baby Jesus (referred to as ‘Spikenard’ at that time) and again as anointment after the crucifixion.

The Greeks called it ‘Naarda’ after a city, furthered the process of lavender distillation for use in perfumes and as an herb.

The Romans used it profusely in their Roman baths and also discovered its medicinal purposes. It was with the Roman’s invasion into Europe that knowledge about Lavender spread to Europe and then the rest of the world.

During the Renaissance lavender was used against the spread of the plague and Queen Victoria encouraged its use as perfume for personal use as well as in and around the home.

Lavender were even thrown on the cobblestones to be crushed under foot and hence probably the reason for the famous Mark Twain saying: ““Forgiveness is the smell that lavender gives out when you tread on it”

For us today, being more health conscious and trying to scale down on our chemical exposure, Lavender has also become a highly prized, value adding commodity for businesses and the single person manufacturing products from their homes. Adding a couple of steps from the harvest, profit margins are high with mark ups of between 500% to 800% for some products.

Since it is now mass cultivated on farms and the by-products mass-produced, we use lavender as an essential oil in skincare and beauty products, lavender soaps, cleaning products for the house, therapy treatment oils, aroma therapy, humidifiers, spray mists, baby products and even pet products. Dried or fresh, the plant itself is used for potpourri, scented sachets for clothing cupboards and drawers, bath bags, dryer bags, pet bags or -pillows, lavender wands and other crafty hand weaves, bouquets etc.

The market has grown to several billion dollars per year with some of the most popular products being the Lavender bags, aroma therapy oil and Lavender soap.

When buying Lavender products, always use a reputable manufacturer and use organically grown lavender products that do not contain unnecessary chemicals.

Lavender in our day has also become a colour and who knows if in future it will be called something else… but as Shakespeare famously said: “A rose by any other name…”

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