LAVENDER has the most sweetly perfumed, loveliest purple flowers; its special fragrance has made it a favourite for beauticians and cosmeticians.
However, the experiences with this herb which have left a lasting imprint on me are from its medicinal qualities.
This seemingly innocent flower brought relief to so many people in the shortest time and should continue to do so.
It was still in the middle of our herbal course (as I referred to in the two articles on the healing power of herbs) when I had my first encounter with lavender.
We had not yet covered the herb lavender in our studies but because I complained of a headache on this particular day as we began one of our sessions on herbs, the herbal doctor, our instructor, suggested I chew 10 lavender leaves and swallow.
I did; the leaves are not so bitter, they are on the mild side.
Within a few minutes my headache subsided.
I felt a bit sleepy, but I ignored the feeling and carried on with my work.
We spent the day going up and down the campus (MSU) identifying different herbs (which to most people are just ordinary flowers), discussing their properties and their uses.
The sleepiness went away but gradually the headache picked momentum and by the end of the day, it was quite harsh.
My head was throbbing and I found it difficult to sleep that night.
At our next session on herbs, I asked the herbal doctor why my headache had become so harsh after a promising start.
He explained that aside from being a pain killer, lavender is a powerful sedative.
When you take it, you get drowsy and it works on you while you are in that state but if you do not rest or sleep in response to the drowsiness, you will be struggling with this sedating force and this costs you so much of your energy as the body has to work extra hard to keep awake; in the end the healing process is defeated and the headache picks up again.
Whenever you strain yourself when you are not well, the condition is exacerbated.
This is what happens when you take lavender and you do not rest or do something light.
I have since had many opportunities to witness that lavender makes you sleepy.
Whether you take it as tea, or you just put lavender leaves and flowers under your pillow, or you just sniff, it is enough to induce drowsiness.
Subsequent to the headache encounter, we had our full course on the herb lavender.
Soon after, I met my brother-in-law at the Kwekwe Municipal offices.
He was under attack from a severe flue; his eyes were red, nose running, headache and a high temperature.
He told me he was so sick he had failed to go to work to Mutoko that Monday morning, he would spend the day resting at home.
I suggested we look for lavender in the Municipal gardens. Fortunately there were some lavender plants in the gardens. We asked the gardener if we could take some lavender leaves for medicinal purposes.
He was quite interested in how it works and so on.
After some explanations, he permitted us to take some leaves. We took quite an amount, sufficient for eight doses (20 leaves each, morning and evening for four days).
He would chew and swallow the leaves as in the treatment of headaches.
He took some the moment he got home that late morning, and in the evening as well.
The following morning, he called to tell me he felt so much better he had managed to travel to Mutoko.
I was happy he was recovering, and pleased too that lavender was living up to its billing.
My next encounter with the wonders of lavender was with my neighbour in Southwood, Kwekwe – he too was struck down with a terrible flue.
His nose was blocked, and his voice was badly affected.
I suggested he might take lavender.
By that time, my lavender plant had grown into a big bush about a metre high.
He was agreeable.
I took a large quantity of leaves and instructed him to chew and swallow 20 leaves in the morning, the same in the evening for four days.
He did, and responded so positively he described it as magical.
From then on, he was besotted with herbs to such an extent that when his mother-in-law came for his 25th wedding anniversary, suffering from severe arthritis, he did not hesitate to ask me to assist.
I did, but I was getting my instructions from the herbal doctor who had trained us, and the results were astounding.
Years later, I still cannot get over this experience but that is a topic for another day.
Still in Southwood, Kwekwe: On a particular day, I was on my way to town.
At the bus stop opposite Kwekwe Polytechnic, I found my neighbour (not the one I have just mentioned above) slumped over the steering wheel.
I asked him what the matter was.
He told me he had just been nose bleeding so he was taking a break before driving into town.
The nose bleeding had started after he had been attacked and injured by thugs who wanted to rob him at his farm, three weeks back.
He had been treated for the injuries but the nose bleeding would recur so often.
He gave me a lift into town.
I asked him to stop by my house for a herb called lavender which could help his condition.
He did stop by in the evening and I gave him a large quantity of lavender leaves from my lavender bush.
I asked him to put some lavender leaves on hot coals (not from coal but from firewood), cover himself with a blanket and inhale the lavender smoke.
I asked him to do that in the evenings for at least four days. He did and the nose bleeding never recurred after he started the treatment with lavender.
Lavender still continues to amaze me.
We were at a funeral, my sister-in-law’s mother had passed away.
It was 2am as we all kept vigil by the fire outside, braving the night chill.
A friend who was keeping vigil with us suddenly told me that she had to go to sleep.
She had acute dysmenorrhea.
We tried to find someone with pain killers but we did not succeed.
I then remembered we had some lavender in the car.
We woke up the driver who was extremely exhausted from the long journey.
Fortuitously there was a huge pot of water by the fireside which I used to make an infusion of lavender (I soaked 20 lavender leaves in a mug of hot water for about 10 minutes). She drank the hot liquid, and soon felt drowsy as the pain eased.
She went to sleep and the following morning the pain was completely gone, it did not recur.
We also learned to make household products from lavender, but that’s a subject for another day.