Herb Reference Guide

Lavender

History

The lavenders (Lavandula) are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. These species are native to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean, but widely distributed throughout Southern Europe, Australia and The United States today. The fragrance of lavender is as compelling and rich as its history of use. Recorded history goes back as far as 2,500 years to Egyptian uses in the mummification process. Ancient Greeks called this plant "Nard" or "Nardus" named after the Syrian city of Naarda and it appears in the Bible in Song of Solomon. So valued was this beautifully fragrant purple flower that Romans charged 100 denari per pound, the equivalent of a months wages mostly for the purposes of adding to baths for fragrance. The current common name Lavender is a derivation of the Latin, lavare, meaning, to wash. In modern times it is certainly still used as a fragrance for perfumes, soaps and other toiletries as well as a natural remedy.

Function

The oils in this plant produce numerous fragrance notes, and it is used in aromatherapy widely for stress, sleep, and other methods to support relaxation. Lavender oil and burn treatment have a long history. Rene Maurice Gattefosse was a French Chemist attributed with coining the term "aromatherapy" and contributed greatly to the acceptance of this modality. In July of 1901, he was working in his lab and burned his hand severely. He had been intensively researching the properties of essential oils for three years at this point and immediately had a rinse of Lavender oil prepared to administer to the burn. He noticed dramatic improvement and a reduction in scarring. A recent search of PubMed, The National Center for Biotechnology Information's database on scientific research; yielded 1674 scientific papers or articles with information on the use of lavender.

Uses of Lavender

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Borneol, Camphor, Cinnamaldehyde, Fenchone, Linalol, Linalyl-Acetate

Parts Used

  • Flower

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy and lactation.

Additional Resources

Han SH, Hur MH, Buckle J, Choi J, Lee MS. Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2006;12(6):535-41.

Moon T, Wilkinson JM, Cavanagh HM. Antiparasitic activity of two Lavandula essential oils against Giardia duodenalis, Trichomonas vaginalis and Hexamita inflata. Parasitol Res. 2006;99(6):722-8.

Pemberton E, Turpin PG. The effect of essential oils on work-related stress in intensive care unit nurses. Holist Nurs Pract. 2008 Mar-Apr;22(2):97-102.

Shimizu K, Gyokusen M, Kitamura S, Kawabe T, Kozaki T, Ishibashi K, et al. Essential oil of lavender inhibited the decreased attention during a long-term task in humans. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Jul;72(7):1944-7.

Yip YB, Tse SH. An experimental study on the effectiveness of acupressure with aromatic lavender essential oil fo r sub-acute, non-specific neck pain in Hong Kong. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2006;12(1):18-26.