encyclopedia

Lavender

Scientific Names:
Lavandula angustifolia Miller[Fam. Lamiaceae]

Forms:
Volatile oil extract of the flowers of the lavender species.

Traditional Usage:
– Antibacterial

– Antifungal

– Antispasmodic

– Antioxidant

– Appetite loss

– Aromatherapy

– Dizziness and fainting

– Fragrance

– Gas

– Headaches

– Insomnia

– Intestinal disorders

– Irritable stomach

– Nausea

– Restlessness and difficulty sleeping

– Upper abdomen conditions

Overview:
Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia [Fam. Lamiaceae], also known as garden or English lavender, originated in the Mediterranean and north Africa but is now cultivated on a large scale in the United States. Its name is a derivative of the Latin word “lavare,” which means to wash, and since the time of the Romans has been used as bath oil, particularly to treat wounds, stimulate the skin, and promote drowsiness. When taken internally, lavender is a mild sedative that helps with restlessness and insomnia, reduces stomach acid and gas, and alleviates other intestinal difficulties. Bitter tasting but with a rich and sweet aroma, lavender is often used in colognes and perfumes and in many calming teas. Lavender is also used in aromatherapy as a holistic relaxant and is said to have carminative, antiflatulence and anticolic properties. Its sedative nature, on inhalation, has been shown both in animals and man. Lavender has spasmolytic activity, as does linalool, one of lavender’s major components. The mode of action of lavender oil resembles that of geranium and peppermint oils. The sedative properties of the essential oil of lavender and of its main constituents–linalool and linalyl acetate–were investigated in mice and it was found that a decrease in motility of female and male mice exposed to lavender essential oil and constituents is closely dependent on the exposure time to the drugs. After mice were given caffeine and hyperactivity was observed, it was reduced to nearly a normal motility only by inhalation of these fragrance drugs. The studies provided further evidence of the aromatherapeutical use of herbal pillows employed in folk medicine since ancient times in order to facilitate falling asleep or to minimize stressful situations of man. Lavender oil can also be used as a local anesthetic and has significant antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal activity.

Active Ingredients:
Lavender flowers contain: 1-3% essential oil, containing mainly monoterpenes (Lavandulae aetheroleum, DAB 100, the most important component of which is linaloyl acetate (30-55%), also linalool (20-35%), b-ocimene, cineole, and camphor, and also the sesquiterpene caryophyllene oxide; tannins (5-10%), derivatives of rosmarinic acid; courmarin; flavonoids; phytosterols.

Suggested Amount:
Tea: Pour boiling water over 1.5 grams of lavender flowers, cover and let stand for 5-10 minutes then strain. Lavender oil is recommended with the dosage of 1-4 drops (20-80 mg) on a sugar cube. Externally, lavender and lavender oil can also be used in baths: use 20-100 grams of flowers and stems per bath water or 6 drops of the essential oil.

1 Teaspoon = 0.8 grams

Drug Interactions:
None known

Contraindications:
None known

Side Effects:
None known

References:

Buchbauer G, Jirovetz L, Jager W, Dietrich H, Plank C. 1991. Aromatherapy: evidence for sedative effects of the essential oil of lavender after inhalation. Z Naturforsch [C]. 1991 Nov-Dec; 46(11-12): 1067-72.

Ching M. 1999. Contemporary therapy: aromatherapy in the management of acute pain? Contemp Nurse. 1999 Dec; 8(4): 146-51.

Daferera DJ, Ziogas BN, Polissiou MG. 2000. GC-MS analysis of essential oils from some Greek aromatic plants and their fungitoxicity on Penicillium digitatum. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Jun; 48(6): 2576-81.

Ghelardini C, Galeotti N, Salvatore G, Mazzanti G. 1999. Local anaesthetic activity of the essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia. Planta Med. 1999 Dec; 65(8): 700-3.

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Lavandulae flos – Lavender. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 292-294.