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Updated August 16, 2012, 10:03 am betterhomesgardens
Bet you didn't know all this - now try out for that quiz show!
Possibly because of its mentions in the Bible, lavender was said to be a charm against the devil. Lavender flowers bound into the shape of a cross were hung on doorways to deter evil spirits and in Ireland, brides wore lavender garters to protect them from witchcraft.
It was also thought that rubbing yourself with lavender oil would attract a suitor, although, ironically, anointing oneself with lavender was also supposed to protect one's chastity and deter a suitor with dishonourable intentions. Perhaps only the right sort of person is attracted by the scent of lavender!
Lavender is indigenous to the mountainous regions of the western Mediterranean but was thought to be first domesticated by the Arabians, then spread across Europe from Greece and was probably taken to England by the Romans.
Lavender went to America with the Pilgrim fathers and was one of the first garden plants to be imported to Australia in the 19th century.
The intriguingly named Four Thieves Vinegar was a mixture of lavender, rosemary, wormwood, rue, sage and mint. During the Plague years, grave robbers who washed in the vinegar after carrying out their grisly task, apparently rarely contracted the disease. Although lavender does have proven antiseptic qualities, a slightly more controlled experiment might be needed to clinch the herb's efficacy against plague!
A drop of lavender oil will soothe a stinging or itching insect bite.
Lavender has also long been used to soothe headaches. Try sprinkling a few drops of oil on a handkerchief and inhale deeply, rub a little on your temples or use it in an aromatherapy burner.
Mix 1 part lavender essential oil with 6 parts massage oil and rub on to soothe stiff joints and arthritic pain.