Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender header

When my eyes were closed, at night in my little room,
my favourite hill used to come to me,
and I would sleep under an olive tree,
enveloped in the scent of hidden lavender
Marcel Pagnol

Lavender is one of the most loved and widely used oils in aromatherapy. There are many different types of lavender including Spike Lavender which I will discuss in another blog.

Family: Lamiaceae, Labiatae

Synonyms: Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula vera, True lavender, French lavender, Tasmanian lavender

Aroma: Sweet floral, herbaceous and refreshing with a balsamic wood undertone

Colour: Colourless to pale yellow

Lavender BeesPlant: It is a small very fragrant shrub that grows to a metre tall with pale green spear shaped leaves and purple flower heads on a spike.

Main Growing Areas: France, Bulgaria, China, Tasmania, England

Major Constituents: Linalool, linalyl acetate, caryophyllene, lavandulyl acetate

Interesting snippets: The name lavender comes from the Latin lavare meaning to wash or bathe. It was used by the Romans in their baths, cooking and to freshen and disinfect the air as well as to cleanse and heal their wounds.

There is evidence that the 16th century glove makers who used lavender to scent their gloves were less likely to suffer from cholera and the Black plague.

In 1970 it took 20 people four to five weeks to harvest four hectares of lavender compared to 1996 when two men and a tractor cut 30 hectares of lavender in three weeks.

Lavender oil was first distilled in the 16th century in England along with many other aromatic plants.

Dr Jean Valnet a french army surgeon who used lavender to treat serious burns and war injuries wrote that in the French Alps when the hunter’s dogs were bitten by snakes they would pick lavender, crush it and rub it onto the bites which immediately neutralised the venom.

There have been studies done showing that lavender can extend the sleep periods of people suffering from dementia.

LavenderPart of Plant used /Extraction: Flowering tops. Steam distillation. The quality of the oil can be affected by the weather, time of harvest, and the altitude. The harvested plants are left to dry for 2-3 days prior to distillation to remove most of the water content. The bulk of Lavender oil is distilled after around 20 minutes with the full distillation lasting around 40-45 minutes using dried or semi dried material. Because the amount of linalyl acetate in the essential oil is used to determine the quality and price of the oil there is always the temptation to adulterate lavender with linalyl acetate from either another cheaper botanical or synthetic source.

Therapeutic actions: Coughs and colds (I prefer to use spike lavender) wound healing, muscle spasm, minor burns, reduces scarring, eczema, measles, chicken pox, bruises, nappy rash.
Ron Guba describes lavender as a “first aid” remedy par excellence, treating a host of minor injuries, aches and pains on both the physical and emotional level.

Emotional and Spiritual: depression, insomnia, nervous tension, tension headaches, mental stress, cleanses and soothes the spirit relieving anger and exhaustion to help create a calmer approach to life. Calming, relaxing effects can help in reaching deeper states of meditation.

Gabriel Mojay writes that soothing the sense of trauma that inhibits self-expression, lavender is suited to the individual who is full of creative potential, but who is frustrated in fulfilling it due to self-conscious reserve. An aromatic “Rescue Remedy” it works to calm any strong emotions that threaten to overwhelm the mind.

Philippe Mailhebiau writes that true lavender prepares children stressed and disturbed by things going badly within the family environment for sleep and that it is the essential oil for preadolescent insomnia involving restless nights and grumpy, miserable awakenings often due to the mother’s absence at least mentally if not physically.

Valerie Ann Worwood writes when deep sadness covers the spirit like a suffocating blanket, lavender gently lifts the weight. When the inner tears fall, lavender wipes them away. When depression clouds the psyche, lavender blows it asunder. And for those with worries that trouble the spirit, lavender lifts the veil of despair.

Robbi Zeck writes that where there has been self-neglect and lack of self-care wearing away the health and energy of your body, Lavender brings nourishment and heartening reassurance.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:
Nurture yourself and your environment and step away from all that holds you back. Create your own “protected space” where you can feel uninhibited, safe and free to be all that you want to be. When you are feeling stuck emotionally or physically in life re-group your energies and start again so that you can feel strong and confident. Take the time to create your sanctuary where you can ask for and obtain all that you need.

Mother holding a baby surrounded by lavender(Courtesy of J. Jefferies & K. Osborn)

Fragrant Change Healing Card: I nourish my body and soul everyday.

Lavender affirmation

Contemplations for the Soul Card:

Lavender contemplation

What do you need to feel nurtured?
How do you nurture yourself and others?
Are you always giving to others but never to yourself?
If so why do you care so little for yourself?
Are you nurturing your creativity and talents or hiding them away because you’re shy or worried about what others may say?
If you are feeling stressed take a few minutes out of your busy day to nourish and nurture yourself.
Spend a little time giving to yourself.
This can be as simple as going for a short walk or buying yourself a little treat.
Taking time to relax and nurture yourself creates greater inner peace and harmony.
How will you nurture yourself today?

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic, safe to use with children and in pregnancy

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Guba R, The Really True, True Lavender Story. JAM Winter (2002)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Jefferies J, Osborn. K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Kerr J, Lavender Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.8 (1998)
Kerr J, Lavender Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.31 (2004)
Llewellyn J, Lavenders of Provence. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.31 (2004)
Mailhebiau P, Portraits in Oils. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1995)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Worwood, V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)