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History of Lavender

The first use of lavender is believed to be about 2500 years ago. The herb, cultivated in Arabia, was sold to the Greeks. The ancient Greek name for the plant was “Nardus” which stems from the Syrian city of Naarda. It was widely used in incense and was considered sacred in many cultures. “Nard” is even mentioned in the Bible in the Song of Solomon and also in the gospels as the costly perfume which Mary Magdalene washed Jesus’ feet with before He was crucified.

In Roman times the name “Lavender” was eventually established by being linked to the Latin word “lavare,” meaning “to wash.” During this time, the herb was very costly and only used by the rich. One pound of lavender was equivalent to the monthly wage of a laborer.

The Egyptians were the first to make perfume from lavender and also used it for mummification. The urns in the tomb of Tutankhamen were found to be filled with its fragrance. Lavender was also made in solid cones and placed on the heads of the wealthy. It is said that Cleopatra used lavender perfumes to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.  

In the 17th century, during the Great Plague in London, many people tied a few lavender flowers to their wrist to protect from infection. By the 19th century, lavender had gained reputation as a miracle herb and was used intensively in the World Wars.

Lavender, used widely in medical settings in the past, is a particularly popular ingredient in Chinese medicine. While the West had moved away from traditional healing methods for quite some time, recent years have seen a rise in its popularity and the benefits of lavender are being rediscovered by many.