Lavenders are typical shrubs of the Mediterranean region (hot and dry in summer, humid in winter ) and they develop well in limestone soils at medium and low altitude (0 at 800m).
They are very aromatic plants with discreet, gray-green or ashy foliage, and inflorescences in slender spikes or glomeruli with blue-purple flowers.
The officinal species in France is Lavandula angustifolia (with narrow leaves) = L. officinalis = L. vera; another wild species (aspic lavender) is less used: Lavandula latifolia (broadleaf) = lavandula spica.
There are natural hybrid forms or fruits of agronomic selections: lavandins: Lavandula intermedia = Lavandula hybrida; hybrids or crop varieties (cultivars) are the object of industrial cultivation, especially in Provence (improved essential oil yield, essential oil varieties with precise chemical composition (chemotyped)).
Lavandula stoechas is another species common in French gardens, it has larger flowers with decorative foliage.
Mediterranean lavender has been widespread and is cultivated all over the world but there are other native lavenders (in Asia, Middle East, North Africa).
The inflorescences and the essential oil are medicinal
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
ESSENTIAL OIL OF LAVENDER OFFICINAL AND OTHER SPECIES OF LAVENDER
The chemical composition of OFFICINAL LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL vary depending on the growing conditions, the season, the crop variety and even the extraction technique.
Here is an example taken from an agronomic document:
2.000 - 3.500 kg of fresh flowers per hectare gives 400 to 700 kg of dry flowers and 15 to 35 kg of essential oil.
To be "officinal" the essential oil of lavender must contain 25 to 38% of linalool (alcohol), 25 to 45% of linalyl acetate (ester), 0.1 to 0.5% of limonene (monoterpene), 0.3 to 1.5% cineole (= eucalyptol), 0.2 to 0.5% camphor (monoterpene), 0.3 to 1% alpha-terpineol (alcohol).
Other standards impose a minimum content of specific compounds: 0.3% of lavandulol and 2% of its acetic ester.
The essential oil also contains eugenol, caryophyllene.
LAVENDER HYBRIDS ESSENTIAL OIL "grosso" is also officinal, its composition is close to that of officinal lavender: 25 to 35% of linalool, 28 to 38% of linalyl acetate, 4 to 7% of cineole, 6 to 8% camphor: it is a much more camphoric oil and therefore less "pleasant".
LAVANDULA SPICA ESSENTIAL OIL has a very different composition from the officinal variety: in general much more camphor (up to 20%) and cineole (up to 40%), it is less appreciated.
Lavender inflorescences contain other pharmacologically active compounds: flavonoids, phenol acids (rosmarinic, caffeic)
The essential oils of lavender and officinal lavender are:
ANTIBACTERIAL and moderately antifungal
SOOTHING, ANXIOLYTIC, sedatives, antispasmodics
ANALGESIC (general and local)
possibly mildly hypoglycemic
The flowers or inflorescences of lavender (officinale, aspic, hybrids) are harvested at maturity or at the start of flowering depending on the climatic region.
It can be made into an alcoholic tincture which will contain the terpenoids of the essential oil as well as the anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds.
The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the flowers; this distillation is carried out as soon as possible after harvesting (to avoid fermentation of the vegetable mass and the loss of essential oil which is very volatile).
The THERAPEUTIC INDICATIONS OF LAVENDER depend on its pharmacological properties.
(WARNING) some people are allergic to the essential oils of different lavender):
- WOUNDS AND BURNS (up to 2nd degree like sunburn) recent or infected: you can use a concentrated infusion, alcoholic tincture or essential oil pure or diluted 1/10 in alcohol at 60 °; the oil somewhat calms the painful component of burns
- ZONA is also an indication: pure lavender essential oil applied topically seems to reduce pain and shorten the healing time of skin vesicles.
- DERMATOSES OF MYCOSIC ORIGIN in association with other essential oils (such as that of "tea tree" for example).
- LEUCORRHEA: in the event of a mycotic infection, a good result can sometimes be obtained by incorporating essential oil of officinal lavender directly into a liquid gynecological soap.
- To eliminate HEAD LICE: a few drops of lavender essential oil directly on the hair, styling it, once or twice a week, or mix lavender essential oil with shampoo (10 drops in a large tablespoon shampoo) but it is less effective.
- To eliminate or KEEP INSECTS AWAY from cupboards (especially moths): a fabric bag filled with dry lavender flowers.
- RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS (acute or chronic bronchitis, sinusitis), DIGESTIVE (gastroenteritis, colitis), URINARY (cystitis, urethritis):
2 to 3 drops 3 to 4 times a day in honey, on a piece of sugar or with a little of condensed milk.
- INSOMNIA, difficulty falling asleep, mild anxiety, nervousness: several studies show that the essential oil of officinal lavender is soothing, sedative, especially in the elderly:
example : 2 g of lavender flowers (more or less two tablespoons coffee) in a bowl of very hot water, infuse 5 to 10 minutes, in the evening 1/2 to 1 hour before bedtime.
for mild anxiety (2 to 3 drops of essential oil (officinal lavender) 3 times a day);
to facilitate falling asleep (2 to 4 drops of essential oil (officinal lavender) 1/2 hour to 1 hour before bedtime).
LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL
ANTALGIC AND ANTISPASMODIC:
RHEUMATISMAL PAIN (3 to 4 drops 2 to 3 times a day by mouth and massage around the painful area with a few drops of pure essential oil or diluted in massage oil (20 drops of lavender essential oil in 10 ml of massage oil (sweet almond for example)
DYSMENORRHEA in young girls: slight reduction in pain and spasms with 3 to 4 drops of essential oil 3 times a day, to start 2 days before menstruation.
Do not exceed the recommended dosages because lavender essential oils (officinal, aspic, lavandin) are toxic in high doses (like the majority of other essential oils).
SOME PEOPLE ARE ALLERGIC OR INTOLERANT TO LAVENDERS OR THEIR ESSENTIAL OIL: risk of bronchospasm, asthma attack, eczema.
Lavender extracts are widely used in cosmetology and perfumery
Lavenders are typically Mediterranean plants, they thrive beautifully on well-drained soils, in areas with hot, dry summer and wet winter.
However, there are crop varieties which adapt to the majority of temperate countries.
They can be grown in the ground or in pots.
Propagation is by seed or by fragmenting a clump of lavender.
In the fall, it is advisable to properly prune the tuft of lavender.
BE CAREFUL, people who fear or are allergic to Hymenoptera venom should avoid planting lavender near their place of residence because lavender flowers attract bees .
LAVENDER a scented, antiseptic and soothing essential oil
A scented, antiseptic and soothing essential oil .
Lavenders are aromatic shrubs typical of temperate regions with a prolonged dry season.
Lavender essential oils are present in many cosmetic products and are widely used in perfumery.
Lavender essenial oil is antiseptic, antispasmodic and sedative
Copyright 2020 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel