Lavender, the scent of the season in Jbeil

Lavender, the scent of the season in Jbeil
Date: Tuesday, September 01, 2015
By: Will Worley
Source: The Daily Star

JBEIL, Lebanon: ‘Tis the season for lavender; or at least it is at Alice Eddé’s eponymously named boutique in the coastal town of Jbeil.
Eddé is currently promoting lavender to mark the close of its season in Lebanon. In doing so, she also hopes to highlight the biodiversity of the country and the range and skill of its craftsmen.Her store has been decked out in the purple flowers, lavender gifts have been especially created and chefs from her other enterprises have developed lavender ice cream and lemonade for the occasion.
Aromatherapy specialist Marie Mouzaya is present to talk about the plethora of benefits of lavender. “It has many uses,” Mouzaya said. “It can help those with minor respiration and bronchial issues. For gastric issues, drinking diluted lavender water can be soothing. It’s good for the skin, in a cream or tonic.”
Perhaps the most commonly known and widely accepted quality of lavender is relaxation. “It also is helpful for those with nervous issues, it helps them to calm down” Mouzaya added. Indeed, inside the shop a customer looks extremely tranquil as she receives an Indian Ayurveda massage with lavender oils. Is she relaxed? “Very,” she sighs.
Other visitors are equally convinced of the benefits of lavender. Roula du Pale said: “I use it when I have a migraine. I also put it on my kid’s hair to prevent lice. It acts as a repellent.”
Marianne Kanaan chimes in: “It’s good as a room fragrance. I also use it when my clothes have been washed. It prevents them from becoming moth eaten.” Presumably, it also keeps them smelling nice.
Eddé herself uses it in her hair, and her husband uses lavender oil to care for his moustache.
An alembic has been erected outside the shop to demonstrate the process of distillation, which creates an extract from the flowers. Water and lavender flowers in the lower half of the alembic are heated. As this happens, steam passes through the plant material, vaporizing the 120 chemicals which are contained in the flowers. These vapors then evaporate and are cooled by cold water on the upper section of the alembic.
The condensation – lavender water – then flows out into an awaiting container. Having been left to settle, oil rises to the top of the water, which can be withdrawn by a syringe. This process is one which is repeated numerous times by the artisans to create lavender products.
Eddé hopes that by investing in lavender and associated products, her shop will support the infrastructure of rural tourism. “I think it adds something to visiting a place beyond restaurants and beaches. It promotes local crafts and talent,” she maintained.
Indeed, she works with numerous local designers and artisans to stock her boutique. Her handbags require a leather crafter, her hats a hatter, and her soap dishes a glassmaker.
Her fragrances and soap are traditionally made in Beirut and Tripoli, sometimes by schoolchildren who are learning a trade.
Eddé is keen to provide business and skills for local people as much as possible.
So, in addition to its traditional benefits, the use of lavender could also herald a few more.

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