L is for Lavender, one of my favorite plants.
Lavender has been used in a variety of ways since the days of the Egyptians. The word “lavender” likely comes from the Latin word “lavere” meaning “to wash.” Ancient Romans used lavender oils in their public baths. And it was a major medicinal herb during the Middle Ages.
According to The History of Lavender, “During the Great Plague of the Middle Ages in Europe, some criminals who looted the belongings of plague victims were rarely affected by the disease themselves. When caught, the robbers credited their health to cleansing with “Four Thieves Vinegar” after their “work” was done. Legend has it that they were released after sharing that the secret of their “Vinegar” was lavender oil.”
Many documents in the Middle Ages show that monks and nuns used herbs and flowers for medicinal purposes, including lavender. It was used to soothe the nerves, assist in sleep, and cure headaches. Lay people, however, thought it was an aphrodisiac or it helped a person remain chaste as long as they used it.
Lavender is also used as a bug repellent. With this in mind, I used lavender as the plant associated with Geoffrey and Alyse in my medieval serial novel, Time Enough to Love. Its use helps repel fleas and therefore helps keep them safe from the plague. Lavender sachets are still used in clothing drawers today to make clothes smell fresh and to repel insects. In fact, my swag for this book at RWA will be a sachet bag of lavender flowers with Alyse’s, Geoffrey’s, and Thomas’s initials stamped on it. If you attend RWA be sure to look for them!
One more thing lavender is still used for is food. You can use lavender as an ingredient in almost any dish: Auberge French Lavender Pancakes, Lemon-Lavender Muffins, Lavender and Honey Roasted Chicken, Lavender Salad Dressing, and Grilled or Baked Salmon with Lavender just to name a few. If you’re interested in any of these recipes, you can find them here. And one more, a Lemon and Lavender Posset, is a dish going back to the middle ages. A posset is a very simple pudding but it looks elegant and delicious!
Do you like the scent of lavender? Have you ever used it as a remedy?