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Lavender

  • Lavandula officinalis L.
  • Lavandula vera
  • Lavandulae
  • Labiatae
  • Mint family



Common Names

herbsCommon lavender
herbsGarden lavender
herbsSpike lavender


Parts Usually Used

Flowers, leaves


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

The stems, growing 1 or 2 feet high, are gray-green and angular, with flaking bark. The gray-green leaves are opposite, sessile, downy, and lanceolate to oblong-linear. The lilac-colored, tubular flowers are arranged in successive whorls up the stem. Each false whorl consists of 6 to 10 flowers. Flowering time is July to September.

Other varieties: Used interchangeably with L. officinalis; L. angustifolia, L. spica, L. vera.

Harvest the flowers just as they are opening, when the essential oil content is greatest and the fragrance purest. Cut off the flowering shoots, tie them into bundles, and hang them up to dry in a dust-free, well-ventilated place. This old method of preparation has proved most reliable, because the essential oil survives best in this way. Once the bunches are dry, strip off the flowers and store them protected from light and dampness.

Other varieties: English lavender (L.angustifolia); (L. alba) has white flowers; (L. Jean Davis) has pink flowers; (L. Munstead) dwarf lavender flowers; (L. Twickle purple) very fragrant with soft lavender flowers and broader, more silvery leaves; (L. hidcote) 12 inches high with purple flowers; (L. provence) 2 foot stems becomes a 3 foot shrub with soft gray foliage; French lavender (L. dentata), also known as fringed or Spanish lavender, has roughly toothed leaves and a camphorous smell: (L. spica) is used medicinally.


Where Found

Lavender is a Mediterranean shrub which is cultivated for its aromatic flowers in the United States and Europe.


Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, diuretic, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, relaxant, antibacterial, antiseptic


Biochemical Information

Essential oil, coumarin, triterpene, tannins, and flavonoid.


Legends, Myths and Stories

One of the most popular medicinal herbs since ancient times; in Arab medicine, it is used as an expectorant and an antispasmodic. In European folk tradition it is used as a wound herb and a worm medicine for children.

The name lavender comes from the Latin, lavare, to wash and refers to the Roman custom of scenting bath water with the leaves and flowers of this aromatic plant. Used in perfumes, soaps, and sachets.

The early Romans used this herb to scent their public baths.


Uses

Used as a nerve tonic, cough cure and anti-paralytic, gargle, mouth-wash for halitosis and improve the gums. An essential oil of lavender, for external application, (no essential oil should ever be taken internally), soothes headaches, migraines, cold sores, dizziness, reduces inflammation, fever, and calms angry joints and muscles.

Used in moderation, lavender may be taken as a mild sedative and to relieve fainting spells. Tea steeped from the flowers is a tonic. Prevents fainting and stops nausea.

A decoction of the leaves is a useful remedy for stomach problems, nausea and vomiting. Once treated dropsy, epilepsy, cramps, convulsions, palsy, toothache.

In aromatherapy, lavender oil is used to promote relaxation, relieve anxiety, and treat headaches. A traditional remedy for gassy stomach.

Sometimes used to keep moths away. Not used medicinally much today. Lavender has long been known as a sachet, making perfumes, and delicate flavoring for beverages, cakes, muffins, and fruit soups. Lavender flowers were once used for centuries to preserve linens from insects and leave them with a fresh, clean scent.


Formulas or Dosages

A fine nerve tonic may be made by preparing a tincture (Lavandulae composita) of lavender, rosemary, crushed cinnamon, and nutmeg. Dabbed on the forehead, this eases nervous headaches and quickly calms a fever.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. leaves in 1/2 cup water. Take 1/2 to 1 cup per day.

Oil: take 5 drops on a sugar cube or mixed with 1/2 to 1 tsp. honey, 2 times per day.

Bath: mix 5 drops of essential oil in warm water; a soothing bath.


How Sold

Spirit of lavender in the pharmacy.


Warning

Avoid high doses during pregnancy because it is a uterine stimulant.

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