LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia)

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Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), a.k.a. English Lavender

A delightful herb producing fine oils!

Family: Lamiaceae

Habitat & Cultivation: Taken by the pilgrims to the New World around 1620. Native to France and the Mediterranean, now cultivated worldwide for medicinal purposes and perfume production. A sun loving, highly fragrant, perennial shrub that can be grown from seeds or cuttings.

Constituents: Flavanoids, Volatile oils (containing over 40 constituents, including linalyl acetate, cineole, linalool, nerol, borneol), Triterpenoids

Actions: Antidepressant, Relieves anxiety, Neuroprotective, Antiseptic, Antiviral, Antibacterial, Antimicrobial, Painkiller, Decongestant, Antirheumatic, Anti-inflammatory, Relaxant, Therapeutic, Antispasmodic, Nervous System stimulant, Circulatory stimulant, Carminative, Cholagogue, Anti-emetic, Analgesic

Parts Used: Flowers (fresh/dry) – Rich in volatile oils 

Traditional Uses: Tonic, Infused Oil, Essential oil, Bath, Potpourri, Tincture, Massage oil, Infusion (tea)

  • Back Pain: Seeking a specialist’s attention and a good rest is strongly advised when it comes to back pain. Meanwhile, however, some herbal remedies may help to alleviate pain and tension, while delivering comfort. Lavender Oil and John’s Wort are worthy remedies if nervous tension is contributing to the issue. 

  • Bites & Stings: Inflamed and swollen area(s) on the skin; a very common and uncomfortable symptoms which usually subsids in a few hours. To ease the irritation, soreness, and inflammation some remedies such as Lavender, John’s Wort, or Calendula may be considered. 

  • Option 1: rub fresh Lavender leaves, essential oil, or neat (undiluted) tincture around the area.

  • Option 2: apply a Calendula ointment, cream, lotion or tincture onto the affected area.

  • Option 3: apply John’s Wort Oil onto the affected area. 

  • Earache: Usually caused by local infection (garlic is very effective in this case) or congestion. To relieve the pain apply 2 drops of essential oil onto a cotton ball and plug it into the ear. 

  • Headaches & Migraine: Very exhausting and unbearable when occurring often. Choosing relaxing and soothing herbs may be the first step in order to alleviate nervous exhaustion. Consider using herbs such as Lavender, Peppermint (an infusion), or Vervain (an infusion) to bring comfort, reduce stress and sooth the nervous system. Rub Lavender Oil with Peppermint essential oil onto the temples. Another alternative is to make an aromatherapy blend by combining 20 drops of essential oil with 1 tsp of a carrier oil and massaging it onto the temples. 

  • Stiff & Aching Joints: The problem ranges from aging, wear and tear, arthritis, inflammation, to waste being built up in those areas. An herbal blend may reduce pain and discomfort. Combine 2 ½ Tbsp. of St. John’s Wort Oil or Comfrey Oil with 20-40 drops of Lavender essential oil and gently massage it onto the affected area. 

  • Depression, Nervous Tension: Take a tincture up to 1 tsp. (5 ml) 2x/day. 

  • Insomnia: A very common problem causing exhaustion, nervous suffering, and fatigue. Considering sedative and stimulant herbs – may improve sleeping patterns while reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. Some herbs to consider are German Chamomile, Linden, Lavender, Hops, and Passionflower. The listed herbs should be taken internally at night, prior to going to bed. Choose one of the above herbs and make an infusion by combining 1-2 heaping tsp of herb with ¾ cup (150 ml) of water. Another alternative is taking sleeping pills when 1 pill contains one or all of these herbs - Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Hops (Humulus lupulus), and Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). 

  • Insect stings: Apply undiluted essential oil onto the affected area. 

  • Digestive problems: Make an infusion by combining 1 tsp (2-3g) of dried or 2 tsp (4-6g) of fresh flowers with 1 cup of water. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Take 2 cups (500 ml)/day. 

  • Indigestion: Make an infusion by combining 1 tsp (2-3g) of dried or 2 tsp (4-6g) of fresh flowers with 1 cup of water. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Take 1/3 cup (75 ml) 2x/day. 

  • Hair Rinse - Head Lice: Use as a final hair rinse. Combine 20 drops (1 ml) of essential oil with a jug of water. Apply a few drops of neat essential oil onto a comb and run it through the hair to remove lice and nits. 

Research: To compare Lavender oil with a placebo and a conventional tranquillizer, a study was conducted in 2014, to seek effectiveness on relieving generalized anxiety. The conclusion was that the Lavender oil was more effective in treating anxiety, compared to placebo and conventional tranquilizer. It was also discovered that the Lavender oil acted as an antidepressant. 

Other studies confirmed that the Lavender oil was not just an effective antidepressant, but it is also a great relaxant and gentle sedative. 

The oil is low in toxicity and has a significant antibacterial and antifungal action.

Lavender flowers and oil have very similar properties. 

It has been decided that Lavender flowers have a strong carminative effect and neuroprotective constituents.

When applied externally, extracts are rubefacient (irritant & stimulating to the local circulation) and insecticidal. 

Caution: AVOID during epilepsy and fever. Seek advice if suffering from hay fever or asthma. Do not take an essential oil internally, except under supervision of a healthcare practitioner. Avoid high doses during pregnancy, as Lavender is a urine stimulant.

Credits: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine (Andrew Chevallier), The Complete Medicinal Herbal (Penelope Ody), Healing Remedies (C. Norman Shealy), National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs (Rebecca L. Johnson & Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog & David Kiefer), University of Maryland Medical Center
  • Jana Glanzer
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