- Lavandula officinalis L.
- Lavandula vera
- Mint family
Parts Usually Used
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.
Lavender is a Mediterranean shrub which is cultivated for its aromatic
flowers in the United States and Europe.
Antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, diuretic, sedative,
stimulant, stomachic, tonic, relaxant, antibacterial, antiseptic
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
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.
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,
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
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
Spirit of lavender in the pharmacy.
Avoid high doses during pregnancy because it is a uterine stimulant.