Queen Lavender, the Nurturer, Carer and Mistress of Healing

Lavender is one of the easiest plant to grow, that gives many therapeutic benefits. In my opinion, lavender is one of the top 5 therapeutic plant or herb that you should have growing in your garden, as part of your “external medicine cabinet”. So let’s get you comfortable growing your first very own lavender plant!

Lavender tends to be grown in mediteranean conditions, so once established, will tolerate dry conditions. It is a hardy perennial (grows all year-round) and loves a cut back to remove spent flower heads.


Look at the plant – see how the leaves form – long narrow soft leaves extruding from a main stem. See how the leafy stems grow low towards the ground, and then long thin stems reach out to the sky to form a flower head. See how the flower is formed of tiny little buds clustered together, ending in a thin “spear”. This particular lavender I am describing, is classic to English lavender, or the Latin botanical name, Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula officinalis.





Here is another L. angustifolia:


Compare this to another “style” of lavender whose flower heads are shorter and thicker, with 3 petals at the top. This is usually a variety of French lavender, with botanical names of L. stoechas, L. dentata, or L. pedunculata (“butterfly” petals), , and comes in colours of purple or pink:


See how lavender grows, close to the ground, usually in a rounded shape. I once referred to this lavender as a “Stately Queen”, and I still see that – beautiful Queen Lavender, calm and composed, overseeing her domain with care and nurturing. And this is very much how lavender is as a healer, in both herbalism books and also aromatherapy resources. Lavender is the all-round healer, gentle for all ages, nurturing and comforting. We can learn a lot about a plant’s particular medicine from simply observing how it grows. This is the concept behind Doctrine of Signatures.


So you can see, it is easy to grow lavender, they are easy to care for and there are many varieties to suit your needs. When you go to pick a bunch of lavender, and come back in a few weeks to find more flower heads, you see the Abundance of this healing plant. Watch the bees hover about the flowering lavender, and you will see how it is a part of a bee-friendly garden. In fact, research has shown that planting lavender beside beehives can help keep the bees calm (have a read of this transcript of an episode on ABC’s Catalyst)! I have also noticed when I added a couple of drops of lavender essential oil to sugar syrup or sugar fondant to feed one of my beehives that was weak in their first winter, they grew to become the healthier of my two hives by the time winter finished! The benefits of lavender extend beyond just us, but also to the environment around you. And if you want to know how else you can use lavender to support your wellbeing, have a look at this blog article, 5 Ways to Use Lavender.

I hope after this, you are inspired to grow your own lavender plant! Let me know in the comments about your lavender plant journey.


5 Ways You Can Use Lavender Beyond the Essential Oil

From the very first time I looked at pictures of Provence and the beautiful rows of flowering lavender fields, I wanted to grow my very own lavender plant. I was just happy with just keeping one alive, so I wasn’t thinking about rows of lavender! But one single plant can give you bunches of lavender flowers, several times a year depending on where you are living, and depending on which variety you are growing. If you want to read more about different varieties of lavender, have a look at this post.

For today’s post, I am simply looking at the ways you can use the flowers of Lavandula angustifolia, also known as English Lavender, even though plenty of it is grown in France…. and that, my friends, is why we look at the Latin name!

So let’s look at the 5 ways we can use Lavender flowers:

  1. The Flowers. You have picked a bunch of lavender flowers, and now is the fun of working out what to do with them! English lavender, L. angustifolia, will keep well – these are the bunches you see in any herb display, and they hold their colour beautifully. L. spica tend to lose their colour and the shape of the flowers does not really lend to making herb sachets or pouches. Hang bunches of lavender upside down to dry, so the stems stay straight. Then display them anywhere – in a vase, on a shelf, tied in a posy.

Strip the flower buds from the stem and make sleep pouches or pillows. Lavender is known for their calming and sedating properties, its gentle perfume serenades you to sleep. Add lavender buds to homemade bath salts – these look and smell beautiful as little gifts, or add sprigs of lavender when you are drawing a bath for a goddess-inspired immersion.


  1. Herbal teas or infusions. A small pinch of lavender buds, combine with chamomile, makes a lovely bedtime tisane to aid sleep. Add a whole lavender spear into a jug of fresh, chilled water with some slices of lemon for pretty, summer drink.
Here is a Relax or Sleep tisane I made as Christmas gifts a few years ago.


  1. Oil-infusions. Place some dried lavender flowers into a mason jar, and top with a light carrier oil, like sweet almond oil or light olive oil. Leave on a sunny window sill for a few weeks to infuse. It is important that the flowers are dry before infusing in oil, as water content can cause mold to grow. L. angustifolia is best for this, as they dry well. We tend not to infuse the leaves of the lavender as there is greater water content in them and not enough volatile compounds (the stuff that makes essential oils). Strain the oil when ready, squeezing out excess oil. The spent flowers can then be used in a shower as a body scrub – add sugar or salt to create a simple body scrub that still smells of lovely lavender. The infused oil can be used as a massage oil, or to make creams or lotions (I use infused lavender oil, along with lavender hydrosol and lavender essential oil to create a “whole” lavender cream or lotion, as I believe the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts”).
My window sill often have jars of infusing oils, and I try to infuse flowers that grow in my garden


  1. Flower Essences. Flower essences are made with the energetic properties of the plant and then “preserved” with alcohol. You can make them to the rhythm of the moon, calling in the New Moon for new beginnings, or the Full Moon for fulfillment of Intentions, and the dark of the moon for reducing symptoms. Tuning in to the healing and magical properties of Lavender, and combining them with the energies of the moon can create powerful essences, which are unique to the person creating them.
Preparing some dried flowers for a Lunar infusion


Fresh Floral infusion


  1. This is where we approach the herbal medicine aspect of Plant Medicine. Tinctures are usually alcohol-based, or water-and-alcohol-based products. Lavender flowers are macerated (infused) in alcohol or a mixture of alcohol and water. Lipophilic (oil-loving) volatile organic compounds (VOC) will infuse into the alcohol, while hydrophilic (water-loving) VOCs will infuse in the water. With a water-and-alcohol tincture, we are able to capture both hydrophilic and lipophilic VOCs to create a more holistic tincture. Dosage of tinctures is dependent on the condition one wishes to treat – note my use if the words “condition” and “treat”, so you would need to obtain more knowledge in this part of herbal medicine, or consult a herbalist.


So there we have 5 different ways we can experience the healing and magic of a plant, on top of learning to care and maintain the whole plant itself, and note that I did not even cover the essential oil (I will cover Lavender essential oil therapeutic properties another day). The journey to get to know a plant, and thus its plant magic, is an experiential one, and the best advice I ever received in learning plant medicine is to create a relationship with the plant, on all levels. And then there are many, many more plants to get to know and love in the world of plant magic and medicine. Happy journey-ing! 😊

Sustainability of Frankincense – Using Frankincense to clean is simply as a shocking waste of a finite resource

On my own Facebook page, Rae of Light, I have spoken and shared information about the sustainability of frankincense for several years now, even before I watched this YouTube video, Tears of the Frankincense Forests:

What you can see in the video is the crisis the trees are experiencing due to over-harvesting, and not allowing the trees to rest and recover between harvests. Essentially, cuts are made to the bark of the trees, which the trees respond by excreting resinous tears to help wound-healing. So the very properties that heal the wounds on the trees and protect them from further harm – antiviral, antibacterial, cicatrisant, to name a few, are what we value in the resin and the essential oil.

Traditional practices of harvesting frankincense resin allows the trees to heal between cuts. With greater demand for frankincense, the trees are cut more than 2-3 times a year, and trees are not left to rest between cuts (traditionally, trees are left to rest after a few years of harvesting), and trees are incorrectly tapped (cuts are made deep to the heartwood which impacts the trees). So essentially, you have trees under chronic stress, meaning you have trees that are more susceptible to natural pests in their environment, and seed germination in tapped trees versus untapped trees is 81% versus 18%.

Sort of like humans – when you are under chronic stress, you are more susceptible to illness,
and aren’t your best selves.

So why do we do this to our plant allies?

When I did a search for frankincense uses, several points struck me, which, in the face of sustainability, was just downright frustrating :

1. Frankincense essential oil has anti-cancer properties
NO. Frankincense essential oil does not have any more anti-cancer properties than other essential oils. Frankincense RESIN contains the Boswelliac Acid that has been shown in-vitro to have anti-cancer properties, but Boswelliac Acid has too heavy a molecular weight to transfer across in the steam distillation process. If you want to read more about this, I suggest Robert Tisserand and Dan Riegler‘s work. So basically, if you are looking for cancer support, opt for the resin and extracts of the resin, NOT the essential oil

2. “When in doubt, use Frankincense”
This approach reminds me of when, as a teenager in Malaysia, one year our peninsula experienced the aftershock of a sea-quake. Mild tremor – enough for a friend of my mum’s to reach immediately for Panadol because she thought she had a dizzy spell coming on. Reaching for the Frankincense essential oil for whatever ails you, without understanding the symptomatic presentation, factors underlying the symptoms, the person’s holistic presentation, and the therapeutic actions of different essential oils, herbs, spices, foods, minerals, and so on, is simply sloppy medicine. And using Frankincense as the never-ending supply of Panadol, is simply ignorant privilege.

3. Frankincense in Cleaning
These were the following recipe titles that had frankincense in the recipe when I googled, “Frankincense in cleaning”:
– “Cleansing Spray for Surfaces”
-“Frankincense Toilet Spray Cleaner”
– “Frankincense All-Purpose Cleaner”

On the first page of results, only ONE bloggist stated they now opt not to use frankincense to clean, due to sustainability issues. And when you see titles like, “frankincense is a powerful astringent and a fantastic addition to your household cleaning supplies

Of all the recipes recommended, very few suggested proper dispersants to safely disperse the essential oils. The basic recipes were vinegar, water, and essential oils, and no warnings on shelf-life for the sprays. So potentially, you are spraying your surfaces with contaminated water plus droplets of essential oils, because oil and water do not mix, and the essential oil does not extend its antibacterial properties into water. This post has an excellent infographic demonstrating how essential oils do not disperse in water or vinegar, you are best to use isopropyl alcohol or high-proof vodka. This post is a long one, showing experiments conducted by a scientist on the efficacy of essential oils and their germ-killing abilities in the home. At topic 15 towards the end of the article, she shows how oil-and-water combinations do not do a good job at all in terms of cleaning . So basically, in terms of cleaning, isopropyl alcohol or high-proof vodka is sufficient on its own for cleaning anyway, without essential oils, least of all a precious resource like frankincense eo.

One thing we can all agree – Frankincense is a sacred, powerful, magical, healer.

Let’s treat it with the respect it deserves, and learn to use with sustainably – not just the essential oil, but the whole resin too, as the medicine it is, not a cleaning agent.