Spike lavender although not as well-known as true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the first oil I reach for in cases of respiratory and muscular issues.
Family: Lamiaceae, Labiatae.
Synonyms: Lavandula spica, Aspic lavender.
Aroma: Fresh, floral-camphoraceous, smells similar to rosemary.
Colour: Pale yellow.
Plant: Shrub grows from 30 to 80 cm tall. The flowers are pale violet on loose spikes at the top of tall, branchy stems that lean over somewhat.
Main Growing Areas: Spain, Italy, France and Portugal.
Major Constituents: 1.8 cineole, camphor, linalool.
Interesting snippets: Spike lavender grows at low altitudes whereas true lavender grows at high altitudes hence its high camphor content and aroma. Spike lavender is more stimulating than true lavender.
Spike lavender was used by the ancient Romans to scent their bath water.
The word Aspic comes from the Greek meaning “Egyptian cobra”. It’s possible that this name was chosen because the ancients used Spike lavender against the venom of the asp.
Part of Plant used/Extraction: Flowering tops. Steam distillation.
Therapeutic actions: This is an excellent respiratory oil. Use it for bronchitis, laryngitis, headaches associated with catarrh and the onset of colds and flu with fatigue, chilliness, aches and pains. It is useful for muscular spasms and cramps and sore overworked muscles as well as rheumatic pains and menstrual cramps. Relieves insect bites and stings. Helpful for shingles, chicken pox, wound healing and burns.
Emotional and Spiritual: Useful for nervous tension, anxiety and depression. It helps to ease frustration, irritability and moodiness in people who find it difficult to express themselves. Instils feelings of vitality and confidence while easing tension and anxiety in those with chronic fatigue.
Safety: Because of its camphor content it is perhaps wise not to use with epileptics whose seizures are not controlled by medication.
Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Guba R, The Really True, True Lavender Story. JAM Winter (2002)
Kerr J, Lavender Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.8 (1998)
Mailhebiau P, Portraits in Oils. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1995)
Mojay G, Spike Lavender Class notes