5 ways to experience lavender, the Internet's most popular flowering plant

From soothing lotions that carry the promise of a good night's sleep, to fragrant, infused honey that's sure to sweeten your tea.
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Gone are the days of those dusty scented purple soaps shaped like butterflies or dried out potpourri that would burn your nostrils. Today, lavender's benefits are even more well-researched and range from medicinal to magical. Amongst the claims are treatments for: insomnia, acne, burns and wounds, hair health, immunity, urinary health, complexion, headaches, eczema and psoriasis, circulation, digestion and anxiety.

That last one seems to be lavender's most famous application, and there are legitimate studies to back up its effectiveness. A 2010, a double blind experiment compared the use of a lavender oil-based treatment with lorazepam, a hardcore prescription benzodiazepine that's used to treat anxiety. The results were surprising. Not only was the lavender alternative successful in treating people with generalized anxiety disorder, it showed no signs of replicating the addictive elements common in benzodiazepines like lorazepam.  

So, it might be time to get on board the lavender train. Whether you're a newbie or a veteran, here are 5 ways to enjoy the benefits of the purple revolution.

Spread it with Lush's Sleepy Body Lotion

When it comes to lavender body creams and moisturizers, the market is already crowded, but nonetheless, a new product is going viral. Lush's Sleepy Body Lotion has been clogging up social media feeds across the country with claims it cures insomnia.

It's become so popular so fast that the company is having trouble keeping it in stock. Retailing for $9.99 or $19.99 for the larger pot, it's a light, sweet smelling, easily absorbed lavender cream that is certainly a nice scent to fall asleep to. While the claims of a cure for tortured insomniacs remains anecdotal, the passion of those singing its praises online make it worth a try… if you can find it.

Sniff it with a Saje Essential Oil and diffuser

Ready for some next level lavender love? I have two words for you: ultrasonic diffusion.  Combining water with a bit of pure lavender essential oil makes for a relaxing atmosphere — as soon as one of these diffusers starts pumping out an atomized cloud of relaxing goodness. Canadian company Saje Natural Wellness is a one stop shop for this lavender option selling a wide range of diffusers and high quality essential oils. Their high-grade lavender oil starts at $22.95, which is a bit pricey compared to certain health store brands, but the quality is superior.

Eat it in honey, tea, jelly and more

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Lavender is in the same family as mint and it's just as edible, though some varieties are more tasty than others. A variety called Lavandula Angustifolia boasts one of the sweetest fragrances amongst all forms of lavender, lending itself to flavour in cooking. While eating a flower may not appeal to some, its subtle sweet and citrusy flavour is worth a try. Donuts, cocktails, ice cream, even vinegar… they are all lavender friendly. Need a more subtle start? Try some purple plant-laced honey courtesy of nature's other lavender lover — bees!  While your local grocery store may carry lavender honey, the good stuff is usually local, so be on alert at your local farmer's market or visit the website of this Ontario lavender farm for lavender honey, jelly, herbal tea, sugar, sea salt and even nougat!

Soak in it with Ombra bubble bath

As a lavender bath product enthusiast, I can tell you not all options are created equally. If you want a robust olfactory immersion go with a good old fashioned bubble bath. But before you buy, make sure you give your pick a sniff. You can always tell a quality lavender product by the smell. If it's sealed up, they're probably hiding something. In my experience, Ombra Aromatic Lavender Foaming Bath is a good buy.  You can find it in most drug stores for around $14 and it's even cheaper online coming in around $10 on average.

Grow it in your own backyard (or even indoors!)

(Courtesy of Ryan Thompson)

All of the above options are nice, but nothing beats the real thing. Lavender is a hearty plant with countless varieties that are all easy to take care of. If you have a garden, consider designating a lavender lane. The plants are perennial, and heartier varieties can survive some of the roughest Canadian winters! Just ask your local greenhouse for the best option. Don't have a green space? Don't worry. Try sourcing some Spanish lavender for an indoor pot.  You can harvest the buds annually and make your own fragrant bundle, some homemade bath salts or just simply run your hand through it on a walk by for a quick hit. Better yet, use my patented pet method. Let your cat or dog loose amongst the lavender and invite them into bed for an incomparable snuggly snooze.

(Courtesy of Ryan Thompson)