Lavender Tea Benefits: The Beginners Guide

Lavender is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is botanically referred to as Lavandula. Lavender is renowned for its striking purple flowers and distinctive fragrance.

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region, including countries such as Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. It has significant therapeutic benefits and is cultivated worldwide for culinary, medicinal, and ornamental purposes.

Historical and Traditional Uses of Lavender

Lavender has a rich history that spans thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used lavender in their mummification processes and as perfume. The Romans valued it for its cleansing and healing properties, adding it to their baths to purify the body and mind. They also used lavender oil to treat wounds and insect bites.

In medieval Europe, lavender was used as an antiseptic and deodorant. Its calming scent made it a popular herb to scatter on floors to freshen up homes and deter pests.

Popularity of Lavender in Modern Times

In modern times, lavender has seen a resurgence in popularity because of its wide range of applications. Its essential oil is a staple in aromatherapy, praised for its ability to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Lavender tea is a popular choice for its mild sedative properties and soothing effects on the digestive system. 

Additionally, lavender is a common ingredient in cosmetics, skincare products, and culinary recipes. Its aesthetic appeal also makes it a favorite in gardens and floral arrangements. The enduring appeal of lavender lies in its timeless benefits and versatility. This makes it a beloved herb used in households around the world.

Types of Lavender

There are numerous species of lavender, each with unique characteristics and uses. Among the most popular types are:

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Known for its sweet, floral fragrance, English Lavender is the most commonly cultivated variety. It is used in essential oils, culinary dishes, and ornamental gardens. Its oil is considered superior for therapeutic use because of its high linalool and linalyl acetate content.

French Lavender (Lavandula dentata): French Lavender, with its serrated leaves and slightly camphorous scent, serves decorative purposes. It is less hardy than English Lavender but thrives in warmer climates and adds a touch of elegance to gardens and landscapes.

Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas): Spanish Lavender is easily recognizable by its distinctive "rabbit ear" bracts atop its flower spikes. It has a strong, pine-like fragrance. This variety thrives in hot, dry climates and is commonly used in potpourris and dried flower arrangements. 

How Lavender Works: The Science Behind Its Benefits

Lavender contains compounds such as linalool and linalyl acetate. These compounds interact with neurotransmitter systems in the brain, particularly those involving GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA inhibits the nervous system by reducing neuron excitability and promoting relaxation.

Linalool and linalyl acetate enhance the effects of GABA, leading to decreased excitability of neurons. This interaction results in reduced anxiety and a calming effect on the nervous system.

These compounds affect the limbic system, which is the part of the brain involved in emotions. This influence further promotes relaxation. It also enhances emotional well-being.

The pleasant aroma of lavender stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s rest-and-digest functions. Olfactory stimulation triggers this activation.

Lavender's scent binds to receptors in the nasal cavity and sends signals to the brain. These signals activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation by reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol. It also encourages physiological responses such as slowing heart rate and decreasing blood pressure.

How to Consume Lavender

Lavender can be incorporated into a daily routine in many different ways. The most common methods include drinking lavender tea, using lavender essential oil, and adding lavender to food and beverages. Below is a streamlined guide to consuming lavender effectively.

Lavender Tea
  • Preparation: Steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried lavender buds in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy the soothing beverage.
  • Benefits: Drinking lavender tea can help relax the body and mind, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve sleep quality. It also aids in digestion, reduces bloating, and supports respiratory health.
Lavender Essential Oil
  • Topical Application: Dilute lavender essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil. Apply the mixture to temples, neck, or wrists. Also, applying to the chest or throat can relieve headaches, migraines, muscle pain, and respiratory discomfort.
  • Inhalation: Use a diffuser to disperse lavender essential oil in the air. Alternatively, add a few drops to a tissue and inhale. This method helps alleviate headaches, stress-related pain, and respiratory issues.
Lavender in Food and Beverages
  • Lavender Infused Water: Add a few sprigs of fresh lavender to a pitcher of water. Let it steep for a few hours before drinking. This creates a refreshing, lavender-infused water.
  • Cooking with Lavender: Use culinary-grade lavender in baked goods, salads, and savory dishes. Use lavender suited for consumption to avoid contaminants.
  • Lavender-Infused Honey: Add dried lavender buds to a jar of honey and let it infuse for a few weeks. This mixture can be used to sweeten tea or as a natural remedy for sore throats and colds.

Benefits of Lavender Tea

Calming and Relaxation

Lavender is best known for its calming and relaxing properties. Drinking lavender tea helps to relax the body and mind, creating a sense of tranquility. The compounds in lavender tea interact with the nervous system to reduce anxiety and stress.

This calming effect is because of the enhancement of GABA activity, which decreases neuron excitability. The aroma of lavender tea also contributes to its calming properties by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. This reduces heart rate and blood pressure, fostering a state of relaxation(3).

Improved Sleep Quality

Lavender tea is a popular natural remedy for insomnia and other sleep disorders. Drinking lavender tea before bedtime can help induce sleep by relaxing the body and mind.

Lavender also promotes better sleep by lowering anxiety and reducing stress. This results in an easier transition into sleep(5).

Digestive Health

Antispasmodic Properties of Lavender

Lavender has antispasmodic properties that soothe the digestive system. Compounds in lavender like linalool and linalyl acetate relax the smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. This relaxation can help alleviate spasms, cramps, and discomfort often associated with digestive issues.

Additionally, drinking lavender tea stimulates the production and flow of bile from the liver. Bile is essential for the digestion and absorption of fats. Improved bile flow helps break down fats more efficiently, which can alleviate symptoms of indigestion and enhance overall digestive health(1).

Anti-inflammatory and Pain Relief

Lavender is renowned for its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Linalool and linalyl acetate, in addition to aiding in digestion, also inhibit inflammatory responses. This makes lavender an effective natural remedy for managing various inflammatory conditions.

Lavender effectively alleviates headaches, migraines, and muscle pain through its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. When applied topically, lavender oil helps relax muscles and reduce tension. Inhaling lavender oil also reduces tension, making it particularly beneficial for tension headaches and migraines(4).

Antioxidant Properties of Lavender

Lavender is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants play a crucial role in protecting the body from oxidative stress and free radicals. Antioxidants found in lavender, such as polyphenols, help neutralize free radicals, preventing cellular damage and promoting overall health(4).

How Lavender Tea Boosts the Immune System

Regular consumption of lavender tea can significantly boost the immune system. The antioxidants in lavender tea enhance the body's defense mechanisms to make the body more effective at fighting off infections and illnesses. By reducing oxidative stress, these antioxidants help the immune system function optimally(2).

Respiratory Health

Lavender's anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation in the airways, making breathing easier. This is particularly beneficial for people suffering from asthma and bronchitis. Lavender's soothing effects help calm the respiratory system, reducing the severity of asthma attacks and bronchial spasms.

Lavender also has antimicrobial properties, which help fight infections that can affect the respiratory system. This is especially useful in managing colds and other respiratory infections(1).

Culinary Uses

While lavender is renowned for its fragrance and beauty, it also has valuable culinary applications.

Culinary lavender refers to English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), known for its sweet, herbaceous taste. It can be used fresh or dried. Herb blends like Herbes de Provence often include lavender.

Incorporating Lavender into Food and Beverages

Lavender-Infused Syrup: A simple syrup containing lavender can be used to sweeten and flavor beverages like lemonade, tea, or cocktails.

To make it, combine equal parts sugar and water. Add a handful of dried lavender buds. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Strain the mixture before use.

Lavender Honey: Infuse honey with lavender by adding dried buds to a jar of honey and letting it sit and steep for a few weeks. Drizzle this floral honey over yogurt or toast. It can also be used in baking.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies: Adding dried lavender to shortbread cookie dough creates a delicate, aromatic treat. Add lavender buds to a traditional shortbread cookie recipe and bake until golden.

Lavender Lemonade: A refreshing drink made by mixing lavender-infused syrup with fresh lemon juice and water, this drink offers a calming effect and is perfect for hot summer days.

Lavender-Rubbed Roasted Chicken: Create a savory lavender rub with dried lavender, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Rub it onto chicken before roasting for a fragrant and flavorful main dish.

Lavender Ice Cream: Infuse cream with dried lavender buds before churning. Combine cream, sugar, lavender, and vanilla, then churn in an ice cream maker. This process creates a unique and aromatic ice cream flavor. 

Lavender Sugar: Blend dried lavender buds with granulated sugar to use in baking or as a sweetener for tea.

Conclusion

Lavender is a cherished and versatile herb. It offers many healthy benefits, and its uses range from historic to modern applications. Lavender boasts striking beauty and delightful aromatic qualities. Over time it has remained a favorite herb for its therapeutic properties.

Sources: 

1. Kim M, Nam ES, Lee Y, Kang HJ. Effects of Lavender on Anxiety, Depression, and Physiological Parameters: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Asian Nurs Res (Korean Soc Nurs Sci). 2021 Dec;15(5):279-290. doi: 10.1016/j.anr.2021.11.001. Epub 2021 Nov 12. PMID: 34775136.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34775136/

2. Mardani A, Maleki M, Hanifi N, Borghei Y, Vaismoradi M. A systematic review of the effect of lavender on cancer complications. Complement Ther Med. 2022 Aug;67:102836. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2022.102836. Epub 2022 Apr 21. PMID: 35462027.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35462027/

3. Ozkaraman A, Dügüm Ö, Özen Yılmaz H, Usta Yesilbalkan Ö. Aromatherapy: The Effect of Lavender on Anxiety and Sleep Quality in Patients Treated With Chemotherapy. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2018 Apr 1;22(2):203-210. doi: 10.1188/18.CJON.203-210. PMID: 29547610.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29547610/

4. Samuelson R, Lobl M, Higgins S, Clarey D, Wysong A. The Effects of Lavender Essential Oil on Wound Healing: A Review of the Current Evidence. J Altern Complement Med. 2020 Aug;26(8):680-690. doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0286. Epub 2020 Jun 24. PMID: 32589447.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32589447/

5. Luo J, Jiang W. A critical review on clinical evidence of the efficacy of lavender in sleep disorders. Phytother Res. 2022 Jun;36(6):2342-2351. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7448. Epub 2022 Apr 12. PMID: 35412693.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35412693/