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Reader Question: Where did the use of lavender oil as an aromatic and naturopathic healing tool originate?

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While there are many theories, the most likely explanation is that lavender itself is responsible for its use all over the world. Lavender has a unique and pleasing aroma and has been used for centuries in everywhere from Egypt to England. It is said that the ancient Egyptians used lavender and that some Egyptian tombs still smelled of lavender when opened. Queen Elizabeth I of England is said to have required lavender preserve at her table at all times. However, lavender was most likely first grown in Arabia and traveled via Greece to Europe.

Lavender oil for use as a healing herb dates back at least 2000 years. Lavender is mentioned often in the bible and the name lavender comes from the Latin word “lavare” which means “to wash”. Lavender has antiseptic qualities, and if lavender was used to wash wounds, infection would be minimized, which is probably why it was thought to have healing powers.

During the Black Plague in Europe, lavender was said to keep away the disease, and people would tie bundles to each wrist in the hopes that they could avoid becoming sick. During the Cholera epidemic, glove makers were notorious for not getting sick, believed to be a result of the fact that they used lavender to scent their products and had it on their hands often enough to keep away infection.

The first antibacterial tests ever conducted to determine that lavender oil had healthful properties was done in France in 1887. During the 19th century, infectious diseases and tuberculosis were rampant across Europe, but the people who worked in the lavender fields of Provence were much less likely to get sick. That hint lead to the discovery that lavender can really help with healing and good health.

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