An in-depth discussion of Lavender and all its forms and terroir differences and the effects of environment on scent and benefits.
INTRODUCTION ~ So much has been said about Lavender that it is somewhat taxing to try and find new information that can be used by consumers to assist and support one’s health. Lavender is a very common plant but in that commonness, lies the problem. Some folks think all Lavender is the same Lavender and forget to realize that there are many species and many varieties of each species and even many chemotypes (chemical types) of each species and that terroir* also make it a most complicated plant.
* [terroir = This is a French word originally applied to wine but that can easily be applied to the factors that affect an essential oil. The essential oil reflects the expression of the earth, or the particular planting site (its ecology), in the resultant essential oil. Terroir is a factor of soil, shade, wind, water, rain and terrain. Terroir is how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the smell and organoleptic quality of an essential oil. One of the mystiques of essential oils is the variation available.]
COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL ~ Lavender comes in many species and many varieties and many chemotypes from many countries. Lavandula angustifolia is the species of choice, however, Lavandula x intermedia (Lavandin) is the one that is mostly in use for oil extraction and that is grown in vast quantities in both France and Bulgaria as well as other countries. When grown in the correct terroir, it has a chemistry very similar to L. angustifolia.
Family ~ Lamiaceae or Labiatae. This family of plants contains a variety of trees, shrubs and herbs, that has been long-recognized for their medicinal and culinary quality with many used as flavorings, cosmetics, medicine, and for scent. This family includes Basil, Lavender, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Patchouli, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, and much more.
Other Common Name/Naming Information ~ Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Lavender is such a common name that all varieties are called Lavender.
A common name is just that ‘common’ and in no way, does it tell you anything about the plant. It is always best to know the Latin binomial (its proper name) and well as its common (everyday) name. The Latin binomial tells you something about the plant itself — as an example the genus name Lavandula is from the Latin word lavo (to wash) from its ancient use in soaps and the species name angustifolia means “narrow-leaved” as the leaves of this species are narrow. Latifolia means “wide-leaved”. [go to my book 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, chapter 2 called “Plant Names Mean Something” to find out more.
L. angustifolia has most of the common names and some of these names are garden Lavender or Lavender vera or common Lavender.
Lavandula stoechas is called stickadore or Arabian Lavender;
Lavandula latifolia is Lavender spica is and called Lavender flowers, male Lavender or Aspic.
‘Lavandula flores’ is the pharmaceutical name for Lavender or its oil.
Depending upon to whom you have spoken, will depend on what specific plant they are talking about.
See below the Species and Varieties of Lavender for the common names of other species and varieties of the Lavender.
SPECIES AND VARIETIES OF LAVENDER ~ There are 47 known species and endless varieties of each of these species as well as a variety of chemotypes of each. Each species is special and most interesting and if you spend some time learning about them, you will be better educated on how to use them and Lavender in general. Here are some of the best known and most used for herbal medicine or aromatic essential oil.
Lavandula angustifolia with many varieties that are distilled including favorites like Munstead, Hidcote, Jean Davis, Lady, and Vera to name just a few. So-called ‘English Lavender’ alone has over 40 different named varieties of plants with the broadest range of color choices available from white Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia alba), to pink (Lavandula angustifolia rosea), then to the deepest royal purple (Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote) spanning the full Lavender color spectrum ….
Lavandula dentata also one of the many so-called French Lavender but this one actually originated in Spain. It is an ornamental plant whose EO can be used in perfumery or as an herbal treatment for a stomach ache.
Lavandula latifolia also called Lavandula spica, spike lavender, broad lavender or Portuguese Lavender. This is one of the parents of L. x. intermedia as it is rather easy to grow and will hybridize in the wild.
Lavandula x intermedia also called Dutch Lavender is a sterile hybrid plant, a combination of L. latifolia and L. angustifolia. It was designed to grow quickly and produce lots of essential oil. Depending on its terroir, it can produce an EO that is quite an equal to the true Lavender or it can produce an EO that is very high in camphor. When distilled at low elevation it often contains large quantities of camphor and cineol; when grown and distilled at high elevation or in cool moderate climates, its scent can be favorably compared to a sweet true Lavender.
In California, this hybrid more often than not produces a good quality oil that is low in camphor but may be high in borneol (which can degrade to camphor) or cineol. Several varieties are common such as Grosso and in the U.S., one called ‘Provence’.
Lavandula stoechas, also called French Lavender or Italian Lavender and works well to make herbal wreaths and in dried arrangements. It is considered a noxious weed in parts of Australia and Spain.
Lavandula viridis, also called green or yellow Lavender. Produces heavily and can be distilled for a fine pine-scented hydrosol and an EO that can be used as an anti-fungal.
COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~ Lavender is native to the Old World and is found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. Common names are given to various species of Lavender no matter where they grow or why they grow there. English Lavender does not necessarily mean Lavender raised in England – it actually does not mean much of anything and that goes for the other country names given to the various species; it is best to learn your plants first by their correct Latin binomial, then variety, then chemotype (chemistry) and then country where it was grown. If you do this then you will actually know something about the plant.
Tasmania is a very large island south of Australia and grows Lavandula angustifolia with a scent that is unique to the place and that can be described as spicy and floral. The main growing area is on the north side of Tasmania and is the Bridestowe Lavender Estate. This Lavender farm located in Nabowla, Tasmania, Australia is believed to be the largest commercial plantation of Lavandula angustifolia in the world.
Kashmir, India produces Lavender, much of it organically grown at an altitude of 5000 feet and more. Kashmir Lavender is a most treasured lavender. Its yield is 1.3% – 1.7% and chemistry is about Linalool 31% and Linalyl acetate is 44%.
HARVEST LOCATION ~ Eden Botanicals has many types of Lavenders and they come from many areas of the world including areas in Spain, Sicily, Bulgaria, France and Italy; some of which have organically grown plants and I have also studied and added the essential oils of Lavender from Tasmania, the United States, Croatia and Nepal and other places.
The terroir (see definition above) of Lavender and Lavandin is very important. It might grow just about anywhere but location is very important to its quality as an herb or for production of the essential oil. In very hot areas it may produce abundant growth but the quality of the oil may be lacking while in high elevation the quantity of growth may be lacking but the quality of the oil be readily apparent.
In the past I have had an essential oil kit that included Lavenders from six different areas to demonstrate to the user how important terroir is to the scent and use of a plant. The kit was called “A Flight of Lavenders”. It was a “training kit developed to introduce you to the different odors of our lovely Lavenders. They are all organically grown Lavandula angustifolia. Inhale and waft the scent from each of the bottles and write down your impressions of the scent. There are dozens of Lavender odors, each one separate and different from the last. Only a Lavender oil with considerable camphor is considered a poor-quality oil. The Croatian Lavender was the most camphoraceous in scent character.”
The Lavender EO I included were Bulgarian Lavender –The traditional soft, floral scent; Maillette Lavender from France — A floral, fruity odor; Portugal Lavender which was green and floral; California Lavender — Woody with a delicious floral back note, it contains borneol, an immune-stimulant; Croatian Lavender is herbaceous/camphoraceous and used in massage; and Tasmanian Lavender – sweet and spicy. I also included a sample of Lavender Hydrosol from California and Lavender Hydrosol from Tasmania. These demonstrate 6 of the 7 main scent characters used to describe odor: floral, fruity, (not citrus), green/vegetative, woody, herbaceous/camphoraceous and spicy.
Of course, there are more to try.
ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ NO it is not endangered. However, natural products such as “Lavender and other aromatic and medicinal plants along with their extracts have been used throughout history and form part of our common heritage. Their benefits have been proven over thousands of years. Today, under European regulations, these natural products have been placed in the same category as man-made chemical products and as such they are subject to restrictions which in practice make it impossible to continue their use. The only ones to benefit from this situation are the chemical industries who will have free reign to substitute their synthesized chemical products for the natural products. This will be detrimental to consumers’ health and at the cost of the disappearance of rural and agricultural lands. If you feel this is possible there are petitions that are available that will help to contribute to the preservation of natural products, those who cultivate them, and the environment in which they are cultivated.” — http://www.lavande-aop.fr/en/PDO-lavender/petition-avaaz
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ A highly aromatic small evergreen shrub found in dry sunny soil or grassy slopes amongst rocks, in exposed (usually parched), hot rocky environments, often on calcareous soils (Plants for a Future 2012); it is also found in gardens and urban areas. “An herbaceous bushy plant reaching a height of four feet. A woody plant with spike-shaped leaves of light grayish green. They have a downy look, the flowers appearing in various shades of white to mauve to violet-lavender, which are tightly paced around a singular stem” Essential Aromatherapy, p. 142.
Lavandula x intermedia is a cross of two plants, Lavandula angustifolia, a Lavender species with narrow leaves, and Lavandula latifolia, a Lavender species with wide leaves. The ‘x’ means it is a cross and non-fertile, it does not produce seeds. There are many varieties of Lavandula x intermedia.
There is extreme variation in this plant and its species due to the influence of terroir. This is why you must try out more than one to experience the variety of scent that exists in the plant. More about the growth and ecology of Lavender is at http://www.botanical-online.com/english/lavenderculture.htm
PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS AND YIELDS ~ Only the flower buds contain the essential oil of Lavender, and from this the characteristic scent and flavor of lavender is derived. So, when you harvest, cut only the flower tops and not the stems to get the best representation of the scent. Commercial farms cut the top third of the plant and that includes the stem because it is easier and prunes the plant at the same time; so, it is economical and no need to come back and cut the stems. However, for the home user, take only the flower tops for distillation or for drying.
An acre of true Lavender (L. angustifolia) produces from 300 to 1,800 pounds of dried flowers (12 to 15 pounds of essential oil – about 2 gallons). An acre of one of the Lavandin cultivars (L. x intermedia) yields from 3,500 to 4,500 pounds of dried flowers per acre (53 to 67 pounds of essential oil).
Yield is 1.4 – 1.6% for L. angustifolia and more for L. x intermedia.
ORGANOLEPTIC CHARACTERISTICS ~
- Color …………………. Most Lavender is colorless to a light yellow. Some with high amounts of camphor are brownish. Absolutes are brown.
- Clarity ………………. Clear
- Viscosity …………. Non-viscous for the steam-distilled and semi-viscous for the absolutes.
- Intensity of odor. The intensity varies depending on the elevation and chemistry. Lavender can be of very low intensity (strength) like a 1-2 and sometimes exceed 5-6 or more when it is high in camphor.
Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment ~ Lavender and Lavandin represent a plethora of odors from the sweet soft floral scent of the high elevation Lavender to the hot camphor scent from inland desert areas; Lavender has every scent you can imagine. One of my most favorite is the spicy floral scent of Tasmanian Lavandula angustifolia. I am also partial to the very soft, floral odor of Lavender absolute. There are other Lavenders I like and it behooves you to get a sampling of this essential oil from various areas or terroirs and find the one that you prefer. You may wish to try the Lavender Sampler Pack from Eden Botanicals. It is a kit of 10 different Lavenders from various areas. You may like one for skin care, another for inhalation and then an entirely different one for perfume. Pictured below are 14 of my favorite Lavender oils.
Various Lavenders from L. x intermedia to L. angustifolia and from 7 different terroirs.
Eden Botanicals supplied Lavender absolute, Lavandula angustifolia organic from Bulgaria and France, L. angustifolia high elevation, organic from Italy and high-elevation organic from Italy, L. angustifolia Maillette from France and a wild type, L. stoechas ssp. Luisieri from Spain, L. x intermedia Grosso organic from Spain and L. x. intermedia sumian from Sicily, L. angustifolia from Tasmania (Natural Extracts) and L. angustifolia Blend from Prima Fleur.
Left nostril = the scent AND Right nostril = the intensity
Left side nostril smells the scent; right side nostril smells the intensity. So, smell on the left side, then smell on the right and then waft back and forth under the nose to get the entire scent experience.
“It has been demonstrated that sensory perception has an impact on aging in species that are unconnected by millions of years through evolution. This suggests that comparable effects might be seen in human beings as well. For human beings, it might not be the smell…. it might be our perception of danger or food. In this case, a smart program where we control our perceptions might form the foundation of an easy yet powerful program to prevent disease and promote healthy aging.” from AntiAging Forum
GENERAL PROPERTIES and HOW TO USE ~
How to Start Using Lavender oil: If you have never smelled or used or applied Lavender oil the easiest method to learn about what it does is to rub 1-2 drops of Lavender Essential Oil in your cupped palms, inhale the scent, and then listen and feel what that is like. Does it affect your brain to calm the mind? Does it have any mental effects on you at all? You can also rub it on the feet, temples, wrists (or anywhere) and get an effect. After you find out the effects, and you like them, then you can add a drop or two of Lavender to your own products and understand these effects on the skin. There are many ways to use Lavender oils, some are: Aromatherapy oil, Bath gels, creams, lotions, shampoos and herbally as the whole dried flower in extracts, infusions, lotions, teas, tinctures.
This is also the way to start using any essential oil — open bottle and inhale lightly. Write down what you feel.
General Properties and Uses: Lavender is analgesic and sedative (calming, sedating) and antiseptic (antibiotic, anti-infective, anti-parasite) and anti-inflammatory.
Lavandin is antitussive, nerve tonic, hypotensive, antidepressant, and respiratory tonic and by application an antibacterial.
Properties of Lavender/Lavandin (by AP=application, IG=ingestion or IN=inhalation):
AP = Application: Antiseptic, analgesic, Muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, cicatrize, cytophylactic, antispasmodic, antiparasitic, anti-infectious, antivenomous, and antibiotic.
IN = Inhalation: Sedative, tonic, analgesic (pain relief), calmative, antitussive (cough suppress), decongestant, antidepressant, and restorative (makes you feel better).
IG = Ingestion: antivenomous, antitoxic, diuretic. We suggest that you do not take the EO internally.
Physical Uses of Lavender & How used (IG or AP): Externally applied for burns, cuts, grazes, inflammatory conditions, arthritis, cramps, ulcers and skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, sunburn, rashes, acne, insect bites, infections, and for hair and skin care. Lavender is a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos, and sachets for scenting clothes.
Application/ Skincare: Lavender is an indispensable plant whose herb, essential oil and hydrosol are used in skin care and cosmetics. It is ubiquitous in high end products as well as in low-end ones. However, there are few of these many offerings that actually use a true uncut totally natural Lavender or Lavandin. These oils are separated by their chemistry — if they are high in linalyl acetate and linalool they are soothing and sedating. The esters (linalyl acetate) are usually very soothing to the skin while the alcohols (linalool) are sedating to the mind.
Externally, a few drops in a hot footbath is used for fatigue, or neuralgia. A hot compress relieves toothache, sprain and rheumatism. Lavender oil can be rubbed on the temples for a nervous headache.
Emotional Uses of Lavender (AP or IN): Inhaled for headaches, migraine, insomnia, depression, anxiety, nervous tension, panic, hysteria, comfort during childbirth, and for mental pain of dysmenorrhea (AP & IN).
Energetic/Emotional Use ~ Lavender may have earned its name of ‘to wash’ because it is frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. If grown with care and attention, it is one of the purest and most highly evolved scents.
Uses: The oil and spirit/tincture are good when taken internally for all sorts of pains in the head and for the brain, as a restorative and tonic against faints, weakness, giddiness, spasms, colic, vertigo —and with oil of Rosemary for loss of memory or for anti-aging. Lavender relieves melancholy and raises the spirits.
Stress Formula for the Work Place is a combination of Lavender, Geranium, Bergamot, Spearmint. Use twice as much Lavender as you do the other oils, something like this: 10 drops Lavender and 5 drops each of Bergamot, Geranium and Spearmint. Succuss the blend and then take a sniff. Adjust the ingredients to your liking. You can use this as an inhalant or in a skin care product for a fragrant ingredient blend that also soothes the skin.
Spiritual Qualities of Plants, especially Lavender ~ Organic refers to the method of growing without the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, sprays or products using sound healthy agricultural methods. Organically grown is better for you, better for the animals and best for the planet. If you want to incorporate the spiritual qualities of plants they must be organically grown and you should use the ones that are locally sourced and better yet those that you have grown yourself with love and intent. For plants to have a spiritual quality there has to have been the intent to grow the best. If you do have a plant that you have grown with intent and wish to use it in your inner/spiritual work, think how to use it, work on the method of using and then go ahead and use it. In other words, be spiritual to use spiritually. I have a book called “Ritual, How to” that outlines ways in which you can use plant in a wholesome, intent way.
DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION ~ You can put Lavender or Lavandin into a diffuser. Just remember that when you diffuse, keep in mind that you should have a purpose in mind for the desired results and diffuse with purpose and intent and for short periods of time — 5 minutes out of 15 as an example. Make sure your diffuser has an on-off cycle so that the air does not become saturated around you. If you want to be calm, Lavender mixes well with Bergamot or Chamomile, if you want a calm stimulation try Lavender with Jasmine. There are hundreds of combinations that one can try with Lavender, just be moderate in your use.
My Favorite Use of Lavender Oil ~ I have never been as fond of Lavender oil as I have been of its complementary opposite, Rosemary. They are like the yin and yang of essential oils. Where Rosemary is stimulating, Lavender is calming and when Rosemary wakes up your skin, Lavender soothes it. I will choose Rosemary over Lavender every time except when it is time to sleep. Then I use sweet Lavender hydrosol as a spray for the pillow case and inhale the scent of a combination of Bergamot and Lavender to sleep. Umm! Peaceful quiet sleep is the best on lovely linen sheets, feather pillows and with the sweet scents of Lavender and Bergamot.
PERFUMERY AND BLENDING ~ Lavender blends with well with most other essential oils especially other Mediterranean oils like Marjoram, Thyme, conifers of all types and in perfumery the citrus scents of Lemon and Bergamot, other florals such as Jasmine, Osmanthus and herbal florals like Rose Geranium. As Eden Botanicals says, “In aromatherapy, Lavender is one of (if not) the most commonly used essential oil due to its general availability, modest price, versatility and universally pleasant scent. Lavender has been an integral part of fine fragrances for centuries – it is a middle to top note, can be used as a perfume modifier, and can also help mask unpleasant aromas of oils you want to use in blends.”
In perfumery is where you want to get the benefits of the Lavender scent, use the lovely Lavender absolute. It is soft and floral and more like the best of the best Lavender scent. It works exceedingly well in floral perfumes and adds a rich deep soft floral note to them.
BLENDING – WITH PERFUME FORMULA ~
Perfume of a 1000 Flowers
10 drops Lavender absolute
5 drops each of Bergamot, Jasmine abs, Rose abs, Neroli, Tuberose and Vanilla
5 drops of Rose Geranium and Ylang-Ylang complete
Make a synergy using succussion.
Age the blend 2-4 weeks.
Dilute with an equal amount of 95% neutral grape spirits.
Shake again. Age again.
Label your container.
HOW TO EXTRACT SCENT from Lavender: There are many methods that one can use to ‘get’ the scent out of a plant and these have been detailed in several books including my own Herbal Body Book. One method is as follows: Fill a large jar with flowers of the Lavender (and some Calendula). Small flowers should be chosen, and they should all be stripped of their stalks and leaves to leave room for as many flowers as possible. Now fill with a light Olive oil, fill it up slowly. As the oil is absorbed into the flowers, you may need to add a bit more so that the flowers are always slightly covered with oil. Leave them to macerate for twenty-four hours in the oil, then pour the entire contents of the whole jar into a double boiler and heat the oil until is almost boiling. Let it cool and then strain. You will need a strainer lined with silk (or panty hose). Let the oil drip through without a lot of squeezing. If you want the end result to be a one flower oil then you must start and finish with the same flower. This formula yields an infused or macerated oil.
There is an art to the extraction of scent from flowers and this art is much older than distillation. Distillation is generally used for the herbaceous plants but home-methods will yield a good quality infused oil if care is taken.
HYDROSOL OF LAVENDER
HYDROSOL ~ There are umpteen uses of Lavender hydrosol. They can depend on the variety or the chemotype that was distilled. Lavender is a true all-around product — use it in baths, in skin care, in skin products, as a facial or body spray, use the sweeter Lavender hydrosols for baby or elder care, carry in your car for a refreshing spray while you drive or to clean the baby’s skin after you change a diaper. There are extensive files at the “Hydrosols – Herbs&Aromatherapy” Facebook page if you want specific uses. And every book that discusses hydrosols also has many uses for Lavender hydrosol. Try my book, 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols.
Hydrosol of Lavender can be gargled for hoarseness, added to teas for flavor. The hydrosol is an antiseptic for swabbing pimples, wounds, acne, or sores. The hydrosol is used as a wash for puffy eyes, bruises, bites, and other minor external sores or blemishes to normalize the sebaceous glands and reduce puffiness, and as a hair rinse to reduce oiliness.
Lavender hydrosol is sprayed on the face for skin care, to relieve eyestrain, for cooling and soothing the temper. It works just as well on seniors or for babies.
Jeanne Rose Lavender Hydrosol Recipe for the Skin: Lavender Hydrosol ~ Use a true high-altitude Lavender to distil as that will have the chemistry Lavender is known for. Lavender hydrosol is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can be used on all skin types. Perfect for use as a daily toner and light astringent, especially for acne-prone, troubled skin. It is pure and therapeutic. Aromatic note: True Lavender hydrosol, unlike other hydrosols, should not have a camphor-type scent. This is because Lavender generally does not have as many aromatic particles that are water soluble, so the scent is earthy, sweet, and herbal.
Dilute hydrosols by at least 50-75% for children 6 and older;
Dilute further for ages under 6 or avoid altogether.
PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, and by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh to extract as much cellular water of the plant as possible.
The perfect choice for a culinary experience — L. angustifolia Avice Hill to flavor a dessert
Courtesy of Evening Light Farms
CULINARY USES of Lavender ~ If you are using Lavender flowers and stalks in your cooking, please understand that whatever the chemistry is of that particular plant is what you will be eating. If your Lavender has a strong camphor odor then your food will also have that odor. It is best to use a ‘sweet’ culinary type Lavender that has little to no camphor/borneol odor, that is high in linalool and linalyl acetate instead. Beware of plants that come from very hot or desert like areas as they will probably be very high in camphor. Smell the flower and stalk first before you use it in your grill.
The most unpleasant taste is a delicious steak or vegetable kebob that was speared onto a high camphor Lavender stalk or even a salad with camphoraceous Lavender flowers. Buy your culinary Lavender from Evening Light Farms — they grow particular types for particular culinary uses.
You can infuse ‘sweet’ Lavender flowers in white wine for 24 hours, strain the flowers out and then drink the wine. You can make Lavender wine using grapes, yeast. Lavender buds and the fermentation process. See page 209-218 of The Herbal Guide to Food by Jeanne Rose.
HERBAL USES OF LAVENDER ~ A tea brewed from the tops is excellent to drink to relieve a headache caused from excess fatigue or exhaustion or for a slight stimulation to wake you up. Fomentation of Lavender in bags can be used as an analgesic to relieve pain or as a therapeutic mask for the face.
The dried plant is added to baths and facial steaming herbs to stimulate the complexion, cleanse the skin, and act as an aromatic astringent; it can be mixed with any other herb, especially Rosemary, Comfrey and Rose. It is commonly use in potpourris and sachets.
My Herbs & Things, Herbal Body Book and Herbal Guide to Food have many uses for Lavender herb. Read them for the formulas.
CHEMICAL COMPONENTS ~ To smell like Lavender your sample should exhibit high levels of the alcohol linalool and the ester linalyl acetate. Lavender should have linalool and linalyl acetate in it in a proportion of 2:1 or about 40:20. It should contain little to no Camphor. If your Lavender has high quantities of camphor in it, then you have either the wrong plants or the wrong earth. The essential oil is the expression of the earth in the plant. Camphor can be in Spanish Lavenders and spike Lavenders but fine Lavender will have a soft and soothing scent.
Linalool is an alcohol like the alcohol in wine. The essential oil alcohols here are monoterpenols. They are bactericides, anti-infectious, antiviral, stimulating to the skin to heal, good general tonics and free of hazards.
Linalyl acetate is an ester. Esters are somewhat fruity in scent, are gentle in action, soothing to the skin, anti-inflammatory, effective on skin rashes and other skin problems. They can both calm and uplift and combined with the tonic virtues of alcohols are very balancing, especially to the nervous system.
Comparison of Main Components ~ There are many GC/MS available for Lavender and its derivatives.
Over the years, I have had many samples analyzed. Some years ago, I had 12 samples of California-grown Lavender analyzed and put together in a chart. This chart is available from me, if you wish to see it, just e-mail me, email@example.com
Lavender oil gland
HISTORICAL USES ~ Lavender is involved with the history of Photography. The first permanent photograph was an image produced in 1825 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. His photographs were produced on a polished pewter plate covered with a petroleum derivative called bitumen of Judea. Bitumen hardens with exposure to light. Niépce also experimented with silver chloride, which darkens when exposed to light, but eventually looked to the bitumen, which he used in his first successful attempt at capturing nature photographically. He dissolved the bitumen in Lavender oil, a solvent often used in varnishes, and coated the sheet of pewter with this light capturing mixture. He placed the sheet inside a camera obscura to capture the picture, and eight hours later removed it and washed it with Lavender oil to remove the unexposed bitumen.
Nicéphore Niépce’s earliest surviving photograph of a scene from nature, circa 1826, “View from the Window at Le Gras,” Saint-Loup-de-Varennes (France). The photograph was found to have been taken in 1825.
INTERESTING INFORMATION ~ The history of Lavender is long and varied and should include a bit about René Maurice Gattefossé who determined some interesting uses of the essential oil. He was born in 1881 and used essences (aromatic oils) during WWI as well as in skincare. He wrote a cosmetics manual and a Perfumery magazine in 1908 and he used Lavender oil for healing. In his words, “The external application of small quantities of essences rapidly stops the spread of gangrenous sores. In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped “the gasification of the tissue”. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day (July 1910).” He wrote a book of his experiences, published in 1937, which I had the honor to translate in 1990 which later was made available to the public. Gattefossé died in 1950.
Prior to 1930, L. x intermedia or Lavandin was not available. Now, most of what people know and experience in France as “Lavender oil” is really Lavandula x intermedia. The discovery of this new variety of Lavandin was told by Pierre Grosso himself to Christiane Meunier in May 1985 and is reported in her book Lavandes & Lavandins (pp. 69-70). Mariuccia, Pierre Grosso’s sister, gives other details in Maritano’s book.
“Pierre began to cultivate Lavandin from his arrival in France, at the beginning of the thirties. Probably at the beginning of the fifties, he found an old abandoned Lavender field at Caseneuve (a township in Provence). Here, among dead plants, there was just one still living, a beautiful Lavandin plant. He collected it, took some cuttings and in April the following year planted them out. He then began to produce and sell this new Lavender. People bought the Lavandin of the Grosso farm because it grew quickly and proved to be resistant to dèpèrissement, a progressive drying disease of plants, transmitted by insects. At the beginning of the seventies, Pierre Grosso decided to register his new variety at the Syndicat of Sault. From 1972-1975 the Lavandin ‘Grosso’ began to be planted in preference to the variety ‘Abrialii’. Now it represents about three quarters of the cultivated Lavender in Provence and is one of the best-known cultivars all over the world. Pierre’s Lavender farm went on to produce two or three million cuttings a year, prepared by French and Spanish female workers.”
KEY USE ~ Lavender is called ‘the Oil of First Thought’ because it is the first one anyone thinks about to use in just about any situation while Lavandin is called the ‘the Oil of Second Thought’ since you can use it if you don’t have Lavender.
SCIENTIFIC DATA ~ There are many articles regarding Lavender on the scientific websites. When you do your searches look for a website that is NOT selling you something. Look for ‘science’ in the title or look for the Journal of Essential Oil Research. Here is one about Lavender and the Nervous System https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/ . And look for specifics like Lavender and Fungus infection.
What is Lavender 40/42?
This is a standardized oil with the same aroma every time you buy it. The numbers in Lavender 40/42 indicate the linalyl acetate + linalool content; in this case, they indicate the product contains 40%-42% of linalyl acetate and linalool. Lavender 40/42 is generally a blend of various lavenders in order to get a consistent scent from batch to batch, with processors adding linalyl acetate to cover the smell of camphor or borneol components of a given lavender. Properties: Because this oil is standardized it has a consistent aroma from lot to lot. It is low in therapeutic qualities. Benefits: We do not recommend using lavender 40/42 for therapeutic uses. It is an okay oil for perfume and fragrance applications, because it will have a consistent aroma for each batch that you make. Of Interest: To standardize this oil different lavender oils are blended together. A nature identical linalyl acetate is then added to the blend to create an aroma that is the same every time. Lavender 40/42 is actually a blend of various lavenders and ingredients and is thus a manufactured oil, not truly from an actual plant.
FORMULAS~ Lavender Luxuries
SKIN CARE USING HERBS AND ESSENTIAL OILS
There are many books giving many recipes for making skin-care treatments including my own The Herbal Body Book (See Table 1) as well as Kitchen Cosmetics. Use these for reference. Read these books very carefully and practice making your own body-care products. Lavender is a well-known addition to any skin-care or beauty products. Lavandula angustifolia, the ‘true’ Lavender, with its high ester content is best in formulas for acne that is either pustular or dry, reddened or couperose skin, devitalized (skin with no life) skin, inflamed or irritated skin, oily skin, skin that is fully of water (edema) but dry and fatty and for wrinkles.
Lavender that is higher in camphor or borneol, Lavandula latifolia, the ‘Spike’ Lavender or certain chemotypes of Lavender can be used specifically for acne and dry acne. Know your Lavender, especially it is good to know what type of Lavender that you are using when you make a skin-care formula.
Refer to Table 1 of The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations and Table 1 of The Herbal Body Book for your choice of essential oils. Get the book from 41`5-564-6785 or www.jeannerose.net
SIMPLE SCRUB as a cleanser or soap substitute ~ 1 T Oatmeal added to 1 T warm honey + 1 drop Lavender oil. Apply to moistened skin.
FACIAL OIL FOR SKIN ~ Make your blend of therapeutic essential oils using Table 1 of the Herbal Body Book or the chapter on Blending of the Aromatherapy Studies Course. Add 4-6 drops of your EO. mixture to 1 oz. of herbal infused vegetable oil. Particularly recommended is Lavender Infused Oil with your added essential Oils. Or use Olive oil for normal skin, Hazelnut oil for oily skin and Sunflower oil for dry skin. Bottle, label and use. Make only one ounce of facial oil at a time because as you treat your skin condition, it will change and so will your choice of essential oils.
STEAMING YOUR SKIN AS A CLEANSING ALTERNATIVE ~ Any mixture of herbs and essential oils will work. But for simplicity sake use Lavender flower, Chamomile flowers, Rosebuds and Comfrey leaf. Infuse 1 T of each in one cup of water, then heat this water just to boiling. Remove the pot to a table and place face over pot and let the steam do its work. Use only 1 drop of your choice of essential oil per steam. See the Herbal Body Book and The Aromatherapy Book.
GENTLE MASKS for Stimulation ~ These were discussed at length in The Herbal Body Book and many examples are given. The easiest mask and the most therapeutic besides the ones mentioned in the required readings is to simply take the simplest store-bought mask and make it therapeutic by adding high-quality Lavender oils and a bit of herbal Lavender infusion or hydrosol. Use no more than 1-2 drops essential oil per mask. You may also use 1 t. clay + 1 t. hydrosol + a touch of Lavender/Chamomile essential oil.
HOT OIL TREATMENTS FOR SKIN AND HAIR ~ add 1 drop Lavender oil + 1 drop of Rosemary oil to 1 teaspoon Jojoba oil and rub into the scalp for a gentle treatment. Wear a hair cap or wrap your head in a hot towel until the towel cools. The wash hair as usual immediately or the next day. You can also make a Rosemary infused oil with Jojoba or Olive oil and to ½ oz. of this add 20 drops or more of Lavender oil. Rosemary and Lavender EO work well together.
SHAMPOO ~ Shampoo can be easily made from herbs, soap and essential oils. However, if you don’t wish to do this, make herbal shampoo the easy way. Make an herbal infusion using 1 oz. of mixed Lavender flowers to 2 cups of water. Strain and add 1/2 cup of this floral infusion to 1 oz. of store-bought shampoo. Add 3 drops of essential oil of Lavender. Shampoo hair. Dry by using a Linen or silk towel and rubbing the hair with the towel. This will give a gloss to the hair. With the rest of your Lavender herbal infusion you can steam your skin or add it to your aromatic Lavender bath or use as a hair rinse. The excess can be refrigerated or used in your bath.
BATHING ~ Bathing with Lavender herb and essential oil is an important part of any aromatherapist personal skin treatment. Without a bath once a week for soaking and contemplating and herbal immersing, one’s personal cleansing ritual is not complete. A shower is great for the morning hurry but in the evening, a bath is a spiritual and physical necessity. I generally add Spikenard or Lavender/Chamomile EO. to a bath. Other bath treatments can be made with any number of herbal and essential oil ingredients. Salt scrub baths made up of 1 oz. Sea Salt + 1 oz. Hazel nut oil + 5 drops Lavender essential oil is used as externally to exfoliate for dead skin cells. A shower or soak follows the salt scrub (see The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations).
A BLUE LAVENDER TOMATO TALE with a Formula Attached.
When I first started working with Artemisia arborescens, nobody else much knew about it but I knew it produced a gorgeous dark indigo-blue oil. I had a large bag of the cuttings from my garden and my friend at the Alameda Distillery offered to distill it in his smallest still. I warned him about the blue oil that would be released from the plant – but he was undeterred. So, we went through the distillation process, got some beautiful opaque indigo-blue oil and lots of interesting hydrosol. Later when they distilled some grapes for the eau de vie, it came out blue as well. They were shocked but agreed that it was still tasty.
They called me about how to clean these azulene molecules from the still and I suggested running a load of Lavender. Thus, was Blue Lavender born. When Eatwell.com made the same error some years later of running the Blue Artemis first, and then their Lavender they also got a lovely blue-colored Lavender oil. But in this case, they sold the blue-Lavender oil to fascinated customers and then began to make it into a healing salve.
The A. arborescens has an amazing healing EO that is used for serious skin disease. Unlike the Moroccan plant, West coast Artemisia arborescens does not contain thujone but it does contain camphor. This camphor in the Blue Artemis treats skin conditions such as skin tags while azulene is used as an anti-inflammatory for conditions like Rosacea. It is used externally. And when distilled prior to anything else, it leaves some of its healing qualities behinds that become incorporated into the final product. So, Lavender is often used to clean out the still from the blue azulene particles and then also lends itself to the healing qualities of the resultant oil, called Blue Lavender. The Lavender softens the strong herbal scent of the blue Artemis and is calming as well.
Eatwell.com makes a gorgeous healing salve of this oil.
SOME SPECIES OF LAVENDER
Courtesy of Evening Light Farms
Lavandula angustifolia with many varieties that are distilled including favorites like Munstead, Hidcote, Jean Davis, Lady, and Vera to name just a few. So-called English Lavender alone has over 40 different named varieties of plants with the broadest range of color choices available from white Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Arctic Snow), to pink (Lavandula angustifolia rosea), then to the deepest royal purple (Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote) spanning the full Lavender color spectrum.
French Lavender, Lavandula dentata, leaves are grayish green with a beautiful serrated edge which is why the name Lavandula dentata. The plants do very well in dried flower arrangements and can be distilled for a pale green, yellow oil. This oil on analysis has up to 40% cineol. Cineol is what makes Eucalyptus and Rosemary therapeutic. So, think of this oil as a sweet version of Eucalyptus and you will know how to use it. AND
Lavandula stoechas, the flower spikes have been used as tea internally for headaches, irritability, feverish colds and nausea, and the infusion externally used for wounds, rheumatic pain and as an insect repellent. Hydrosol can be used as a wound wash. The essential oil is used commercially in air fresheners and insecticides. The EO contains up to 40% pulegone.
Lavandula viridis oil vs. fungus, Lavender oil from green Lavender can knock out drug-resistant fungi called dermatophytes, lab-dish tests show. Distilled from the Iberian shrub Lavandula viridis L’Hérit, the oil inhibited dermatophytes by attacking their cell membranes. It also proved promising against Candida fungi. Dermatophytes cause athletes’ foot, ringworm and nail infections, while Candida causes yeast infections. Researchers at the University of Coimbra in Portugal report the results in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology. The active ingredient in the lavender oil appears to be an organic compound called alpha-pinene, they note. More tests are planned. —Nathan Seppa AND
Lavandula x intermedia, a variety of Lavandin, is the very commonly seen and known plant grown in vast quantities in France and in the United States and has many chemotypes. Few of these chemotypes are suitable for EO use or for using the stems or flowers in cooking. In too many cases this plant is very high in camphor. That in itself is not necessarily bad, but in many cases, renders this oil unfit for fine skin care or emotional care.
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CONTRAINDICATIONS: There do not seem to be any contraindications for the use of Lavender plant nor for the essential oil in perfumery or aromatherapy. There are no known scientific reports of interactions between Lavender and conventional medications. However, because Lavender promotes relaxation, it may make the effects of central nervous (CNS) depressants stronger. There are some distillers and practitioners who have developed sensitivity to the scent and use of Lavender and are unable to be near it or to smell it without negative consequences.
Patch Test: If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64
Do not Ingest essential oils: Although some oils are important flavoring oils in the flavor industry and thus ingested in very small amounts in many foods, especially meats and sausages, it is not a good idea to use them yourself either in capsules or in honey to take internally.
Safety Precautions: Do not apply the essential oil neat, especially to the underarms or delicate parts of the body. Most oils are probably not to be used on babies, children or pregnant women. Many aromatherapist suggest that there are some oils not be used at all. However, as with many plants, essential oil chemistry is subject to change depending on species and terroir.
DISCLAIMER: This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor. The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©
Coombs, Allen J. Dictionary of Plant Names. Timber Press, Portland, OR. 1995.
Geuter, Maria. Herbs in Nutrition. New York. BioDynamic Agricultural Assn. 1962.
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Meunier, Christiane. Lavandes & Lavandins. Édisud. Aix-en-Provence. 1992
Nickell’s, J.M. Botanical Ready Reference
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne. Lavender, Lavender, Lavender. Sequim, WA. Sequim Lavender Growers Assn. 2003.
Rose, Jeanne. Natural Botanical Perfumery. San Francisco, Ca. 1999
Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. San Francisco, California.
Worwood, Susan. Essential Aromatherapy. New World Library, San Rafael, CA. 1995.
other books referenced are numerous.
Biography: Jeanne Rose has been teaching aromatherapy since 1972. Jeanne has written 25 books on herbs and aromatherapy and has two home-study courses; Aromatherapy and Herbal Studies Course and the Aromatherapy Studies Course, Practitioner. For contact information on these courses and the books see: www.jeannerose.net/
Lavender, Lavender, Lavender
It will soothe your psyche and make you Purr
I don’t like it it’s true
It’s all so new.
But I use it on all my friends with fur—JeanneRose2015
A single lovely Lavender flower stalk.
~ JR ~