Timezouri, the wild Atlas lavender

Timezouri, the wild Atlas lavender

I grew up in the Domaine de la Roseraie, in Ouirgane surrounded by aromatic and healing plants such as, rosemary, thyme, sage... I still remember Fatna, who would always heal the slightest of our bruises with the perfect remedy she drew extensively from traditional knowledge. My story begins with my happy and healthy childhood, the magic of this High Atlas Valley, and my desire to pay tribute to these Berber women who inspired me as a child and shared with me their knowledge and ancestral wisdom.

This year has been freezing cold, but thankfully rain and snow were abundant, hinting an early and beautiful spring. A white mantle covers the mountain peaks. An amazing and poetical landscape but such a harsh reality for the High Atlas population. The other day,I went out to have dinner at my neighbour’s, it was bitterly cold and the temperature was way below zero. Yet the reunion with my friend and her family always feels so warm and friendly. We shared a huge blanket to warm up our legs,we drank a big bowl of soup and the cold was pretty much the last thing on our mind.

After dinner we were served Moroccan tea, but the aroma that rose from the teapot did not smell like the usual one, it smelt like lavender. A sweet and familiar smell that took me back to the colorful delights of my childhood.

Fatna what tea is this ? It is an herbal tea from “Timezouri”, the wild lavender that grows in our mountains, we drink it in the winter because it warms us up before going to sleep. Don’t you remember? I had advised you to take it when prepping for your exams back when you were in college: lavender has a soothing effect and treats insomnia. All you have to do is prepare an herbal tea with two teaspoons of dried flowers infused in 150 ml of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes.

What are the different uses for lavender ? We use the dried flowers in closets to keep clothes moths away; this is why lavender is also mixed with the wool in our mattresses. It also gives a delicate fragrance to linen. So these are the most common ways in which lavender is used. But we’ve forgotten about the many lavender-based home remedies with plenty of health benefits: it reduces anxiety, relieves the symptoms of bronchitis and coughing. It is also an excellent antiseptic! For instance, a lavender infusion can clean a shallow cut.

But you are talking about lavender from the mountains, are there other varieties ? Of course my dear! Just like many other plants, there are some that grow naturally and others that are cultivated…

Indeed there is not one but many types of lavenders. We often hear about True lavender or Hybrid lavender. This variety was imported to Morocco from Provence and was planted in the 1950’s in the Mid Atlas. These lavender fields make it possible to harvest the flowers and distill them for a phytotherapeutic use. Lavender from the High Atlas, that Fatna refers to as “wild lavender” is an endemic variety, also known as “Lavandula stoechas”. It grows at a minimum altitude of 1500m in very dry soils and with very little water. The essential oil from this rustic lavender has a high concentration of natural camphor, which explains its antiseptic and analgesic effects. It is highly recommended in case of a cold, the flu and respiratory problems.

Lavender was already used in the time of the Romans for its aromatic vertues. In fact, lavender can be used during a hammam ritual, the steam will diffuse its benefits whilst filling the room with a delicate scent and purifying the air. When inhaled, it will help clear the bronchial passages and it will bring you a pleasant soothing feeling. Bath time is also another privileged moment to enjoy its benefits and give yourself some tender love and care and release the tension in your body caused by stress. Hot water at an ideal temperature of 38° will help you relax. It activates your blood flow and allows the elimination of toxins. So draw a bath and add a concoction of True Lavender to the water (use approximately 60 g of dried flowers for 1 liter of boiling water bring, then let it brew for 15 minutes, and mix it into your bathwater). A 20-minute bath before going to bed will prepare your body for a sounder and better sleep.

Fatna’s cure to relieve the symptoms of colds and coughs :

Bring milk to a boil and add two spoons filled of lavender flowers, 1 teaspoon of milled black seeds, and sweeten with 1 spoonful of honey. These seeds that are also known as “sanouj” in Arabic, will combine their benefits with the lavender and will help strengthen the immune system thanks to the natural vitamins and antibiotics it contains. The peppery tang goes well with camphor taste of lavender. Drinking this hot concoction before going to bed will relieve the bronchial passages and the respiratory tract.

Kenza Fenjiro
Spa Director at La Roseraie Spa Retreat

Published in NAFS Magazine – May 2017

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