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All About Lavender
Author: Liz Fulcher
Friday, November 10, 2017

The lavender plant has been used for over 2500 hundred years and was even found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut. Ancient Romans washed their body and clothes in lavender and it’s believed that lavender derived its name from the latin word lavare, which means, “to wash.” The clean, fresh sweet scent of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is such a soothing and familiar aroma that it is still incredibly popular today.

How Well Do You Know Your Lavenders?
Choosing the Right One Can Make a Big Impact on Your Blend
What most essential oil users don’t realize is that the Lavandula genus produces several species that are available as essential oils. Although these different Lavender essential oils share properties, they can be significantly different in their chemical composition which will affect their aroma, therapeutic actions, safety and usage profiles. This is a great example of why I insist my aromatherapy students know the Latin name of the plant that produced the essential oil they are working with, plus a basic understanding of the chemistry of those oils.
Did you know there are something like 39 different species of Lavender? Luckily for those of us who work with essential oils, there are only three that are commonly used in aromatherapy:

• True Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
• Spike Lavender (Lavendula latifolia)
• Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia)

Let’s take a look at these three Lavender species, how they differ from each other and how each can best be used.

True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most common species harvested for the essential oil. Plant names are known to change and evolve as taxonomists learn more about the plant, and such is the case with True Lavender. The Latin name of this plant has been updated from Lavandula vera and Lavandula of cinalis to the current Lavandula angustifolia. The word “folia” is Latin for leaf and “angustifolia” means “narrow-leafed”.

Chemistry, Therapeutic Properties and Suggested Uses:
The essential oil from this plant is high in linalol and linayl acetate, two important chemical components that are wonderful to find in an essential oil. Linalol is amazing for nurturing the skin and linayl acetate helps to calm and soothe the central nervous system. Lavender that is grown at a higher altitude has a higher linayl acetate content making the essential oil even more relaxing.

True Lavender is the best choice for soothing anxiety and stress as well as addressing headache, tense muscles and insomnia. I love this oil for calming burns of all types and any damaged skin issues. There is no end to how you can use Lavandula angustifolia! It’s great in a diffuser to calm children, a nasal inhaler for stress or headache, or add to any carrier for a calming element to your blend.

Safety:
Non-toxic and non-irritating. This is one of the safest essential oils you can have in your aromatherapy toolbox and an important addition to every first aid kit.

Lavandin
(Lavandula x intermedia)

When you find an “x” in the botanical name of a plant, you know that it’s a hybrid. Lavandula x intermedia is a hybrid of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia. Lavandin is primarily distilled for the perfume and fragrance industries. Lavandin tends to cost less than the other species of Lavandula. It is a hearty plant and produces a generous amount of essential oil, making it a commercially viable crop and favorite of the French essential oil producers.

Chemistry, Therapeutic Properties and Suggested Uses:
As can be expected from what we already know about L. angustifolia and L. latifolia, the hybrid Lavandin contains a significant amount of linalol, linalyl acetate, camphor and 1,8 cineole. These chemical components give Lavandin essential oil a wide variety of properties and can be used for muscle and joint pain, as an expectorant for the respiratory system and in wound care for helping the skin form scar tissue. Used on its own, Lavandin may offer the best of both worlds being calming yet helpful in respiratory care, but personally, I prefer the full strength of one of the other parent plants.

Safety:
Generally non-toxic and non-irritating. Check your GC/MS report to know the exact amounts of camphor and 1,8 cineole in the batch you are using.

IMPORTANT:
Please remember that if you are producing products for resale, you may not make claims to cure or treat any condition. This article and recipe is written from the perspective of personal use only.

Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia)
Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia) is one of my favorite essential oils both aromatically and therapeutically. It is sometimes known as Spanish Lavender or French Lavender, which can become confusing. Do you see why knowing the botanical name of the plant is important? The Spike Lavender plant produces a significant amount of camphor, which you can detect immediately when you smell the essential oil. This chemistry is what makes it quite different from Lavandula angustifolia.

I like to think of Spike Lavender as “lavender with a kick.” This oil has the skin-friendly linalol content of L. angustifolia, but less of the deeply relaxing linalyl acetate. It also contains the components camphor and 1,8 cineole which can make it a more stimulating oil. Where True Lavender supports stillness, Spike Lavender supports movement. Again, knowing the botanical name of your essential oil is vitally important when it comes to Lavender.

Chemistry, Therapeutic Properties and Suggested Uses:
The camphor in Lavandula latifolia, offers great circulatory and muscle warming properties while 1,8 cineole is an excellent expectorant and respiratory antispasmodic helping to reduce a cough. Spike Lavender is especially good for headaches. I love to add it to my cleaning products for its aroma and antibacterial action. Spike Lavender is also a great addition to a nasal inhaler, along with Peppermint, Rosemary or Eucalyptus to help open sinus passages and clear the head. Try it in a muscle warming lotion or chest rub to support respiratory health.

Safety:
Generally non-toxic and non-irritating. The oil can be stimulating for some due to the camphor and 1,8 cineole content (check the GC/MS report for your specific essential oil). These constituents make it a less safe choice in pregnancy and with kids. For children under the age of three, it’s best to use L. angustifolia.



Questions & Answers (1)  
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"Hi. Which lavender oil would you say is the best to use in homemade soap? Also, how many drops of oil should be used to make the properties in the oil work best when soap is used? Thanks, K~"

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Posted By: kim   |   November 19, 2017


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