Plant Family: 

Lavender belongs to the Lamiaceae (or mint) family.

 

Habitat & Cultivation: 

Lavandula angustofolia is native to lower mountain regions and is cultivated in mainly France, but also grown in the U.S., Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia, the netherlands, the U.K. and Australia (Upton, 2011). Historically, Lavandula angustofolia was used by ancient Arabian, Greek, and Roman medicine as an antiseptic (Upton, 2011). It was used as a bactericide to clean hospitals (Upton, 2011). Lavender was also added to baths as a way to purify the body and the spirit, which is where the latin name “lavare” or “to wash” came from (Upton, 2011).

 

There are approximately 39 different species that fall into the genus of Lavendula.  The two most common species found in the Northern latitudes are angustifolia and x intermedia (also called lavandin). Some species are used in a culinary aspect to add in recipes (culinary buds of the plant) I.e. Lav. Angustifolia and var. Melissa, other species of Lavendula are used as fragrance to make sachets or other fragrant products using the dry buds of the plant.  Lastly, Lavendula species are used for making essential oils which can be used medicinally in Correct form and dosing I.e. Lav. x-intermedia var. Grosso.

The identifying factors that set Angustifolia apart from other Lavendula species are:

“Flower petal color: blue to purple
Leaf type: the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement: opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges: the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry: there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
Fusion of sepals and petals: the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Stamen number: 4”

 

 

Parts Used/Collection: 

There are approximately 39 different species that fall into the genus of Lavendula.  The two most common species found in the Northern latitudes are angustifolia and x intermedia (also called lavandin). Some species are used in a culinary aspect to add in recipes (culinary buds of the plant) I.e. Lav. Angustifolia and var. Melissa, other species of Lavendula are used as fragrance to make sachets or other fragrant products using the dry buds of the plant.  Lastly, Lavendula species are used for making essential oils which can be used medicinally in Correct form and dosing I.e. Lav. x-intermedia var. Grosso.

The identifying factors that set Angustifolia apart from other Lavendula species are:

“Flower petal color: blue to purple
Leaf type: the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement: opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges: the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry: there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
Fusion of sepals and petals: the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Stamen number: 4”

 

 

Herbal Actions: 

  • Carminative for people with gas, nausea and vomiting. Used to treat stagnation in GI tract. (Winston & Maimes, 2007).

  • Antispasmodic

  • Antiseptic- small wounds

  • Antimicrobial- UTI’s , vulvovaginitis (Romm, 2015)

  • Analgesic properties when applied topically (Romm, 2015)- recommended in Sitz bath

  • Relaxing nervine-

    • Insomnia: reduces difficulty falling asleep, promotes restful sleep, prevents night time walking (Winston & Maimes, 2007).

    • Gentle sedative: treats nervous headaches, premenstrual headache, migraine, exhaustion

    • Anxiolitic: also treats old-age induced anxiety.

    • Antidepressant - used to treat emotional stagnation (Winston & Maimes, 2007).

    • Anti Stress- Romm, A, (2015), mentions it as an important nervine that could be used as part of the treatment protocol in clients whose stress precipitates HSV outbreaks.

    • Mild nootropic agent, meaning that may improve cognitive function (Winston & Maimes, 2007).

  • Rubefacient

  • Emmenagogue

  • Hypotensive: treats mildly elevated blood pressure

 

Indications: 

  • Depression

  • Insomnia

  • Need for a nervous system tonic

  • Muscle aches & pains

  • Rheumatism

 

Contraindications: 

  • Allergic contact dermatitis

 

Plant Constituents: 

 

  • Volatile oil

  • Tannins

  • Flavinoids

  • Coumarins

  • Phytosterols

  • Triterpernes

System Affinities:

  • Integumentary

  • Nervous system

  • Cardiovascular

  • Endocrine

  • Musculoskeletal

Energetics: 

Pungent and cooling. PK-Vo.

  • Constitutional match

    • Vata

    • Pitta

 

  • Constitutional mismatch

    • Kapha

  • Pitta is the ideal match for lavender (i.e. someone who would be supported and balanced by lavender) - this is someone who runs hot, fiery, red, tight, perhaps hypertensive.  They might have also have a fiery digestive and MSK system - prone to cramps, pains, aches in joints. Their nervous system has trouble slowing down, it might be challenging to shut down for sleep.  The kapha picture is also balanced by lavender: this person might be characterized by slow digestion, trouble moving around, depressive symptoms.

  • My sense is that lavender is agreeable to most constitutions.  In terms of a mismatch, really the only thing that comes to mind is an extremely vata person who is really “airy” and light, perhaps hypotensive, doesn’t have much of an appetite, and/or just feels less physically present.  

 

Safety: 

Lavender is safety class 1 for whole plant.  

Volatile oil:  may lead to contact dermatitis.  

There were case reports suggesting a link between lavender essential oil and estrogenic effects on boys which were criticized based on normal estrogen levels in the cases cited and lack of support based on traditional use and research.  Additionally, other ingredients in the products used have been associated with estrogenic effects. (AHPA, 2013)

 

Dosage

Infusion:  1-2 teas. in 8 oz water

essential oil:  via inhalation

Bath:  20-100g added to bath, or 3-10 drops EO added to bath water

(ABC, 2013)


Personal Experience:

I enjoyed lavendar in my bath while having lavender tea. It was calm and relaxing after my long days.

 

Research: 

ABC Guide. (2018). Evening Primrose Oil. Herbal Gram. Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/ABCGuide/GuidePDFs/Evening_Primrose_Oil.pdf

 

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.

 

Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone. 

 

Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health. St. Louis, Mo: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

 

Weed, S. (1986). Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

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