After a long, hard day, you might be tempted to reach for a glass of wine.
While there’s evidence a glass of red wine is good for you, there’s a flower you can grow in your garden that can help settle your nerves and set your mind at ease — all without the hangover.
Lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, is one of the most common flowers and essential oils used in aromatherapy because of its relaxing properties. It’s often touted for its calming effects on the mind, especially when used as a sleeping aid. Some research has found it to be beneficial in aiding restless people get much needed sleep. Chefs often make use of lavender honey, or use the petals to garnish salads.
Although lavender extract can be sold as a health supplement in the United States, it’s not approved to treat any specific condition. In Germany, the extract is sold under the name Lasea, and is approved to treat anxiety and improve sleep.
Brew It Yourself
The most common way lavender is consumed is by brewing a tea from its buds. Brewing lavender bulbs into a tea helps release the oils and scents.
How to Make It:
Making your own lavender tea is fairly easy:
- Boil 8 oz. of water.
- Place 4 tsp. of fresh lavender buds into a tea ball or sachet.
- Place the tea ball and water into a teacup.
- Let steep for 10 minutes.
Try growing some in your garden and brewing yourself a cup before bedtime for a restful sleep.
Lavender’s Many Talents
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lavender can relieve a variety of mental and psychological woes, including anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Research shows that drinking lavender oil preparations can improve restlessness caused by anxiety. It can also treat common digestive issues like upset stomach. It’s not, however, an approved main therapy for any of these conditions, and should not take the place of medication prescribed by a doctor.
There’s also some evidence that lavender can treat canker sores, the hair loss condition alopecia, and be used in a bath to treat circulation disorders.
Who Should Avoid Lavender
The NIH does warn about its use in pregnant women — because of a lack of evidence to its safety for the fetus — and prepubescent boys.
One study found some young boys who used lavender developed gynecomastia, or enlarged breast tissue. When those boys stopped consuming lavender, the condition went away.
Also, people who have allergies, especially to pollen, should avoid lavender, as it may trigger an allergic reaction.
Side effects of drinking lavender tea may include constipation, headache, and increased appetite.