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What comes to mind when you think of lavender? The “scent” of lavender can be found in everything from dish soap to dryer sheets. But this is not true lavender my friends! And most of the products on the market today don’t even smell like actual lavender.  Many people don’t even think of lavender as a medicinal plant because its smell has become synonymous with cleaning products and a “fresh” scent. Lavender is so much more than this! It’s more than a nice smelling essential oil or a dryer sheet or a purple piece of gum (yes Thrills gum is lavender flavoured 😉 )

 

Come join me as we learn about lavender’s sweet medicine.

Lavender Pin

Family: Lamiaceae

Latin names: Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula officinalis

Common names: English lavender, Common lavender, French lavender, Garden lavender

Parts Used:  Flowers, essential oil

Constituents: Volatile oil (linalyl acetate, linalool, lavandulyl acetate, borneol, limonene, caryophyllene); coumarins (umbelliferone, herniarin, coumarin); triterpenes, flavonoids 1

 

Description

There are many species of lavender, however, Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula officinalis are the most commonly spoken of species in herbal medicine.  Lavender is a small perennial shrub from the Mint family, growing to 1-2 metres in height.  The leaves are evergreen and the purple flowers are arranged in tall spikes.

Although lavender can now be found all over the world, it originated in the Mediterranean basin.  It has naturalized in North America and will grow in Ontario (zones 5-8), but it prefers slightly warmer winters.

As with many Western medicinal herbs, lavender has been used throughout history.  Its name comes from the term lavare (“to wash”) – so coined by the Romans as they commonly used it to scent baths.  Due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, the essential oil was used to disinfect hospital floors and walls during WWI.  In modern days, much of its healing ability remains unknown to the average person.  Instead we are familiar with its scent.  Lavender essential oil and synthetic versions of it are used in anything from perfumes to fabric softeners.

 

Therapeutic Properties

Analgesic, antibacterial, anticatarrhal, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, anxiolytic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, nervine, relaxant, rubefacient, tranquilizer, vulnerary

 

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Medicinal Uses 

Nervous system

  • Anxiety, depression, headaches (including tension headaches & migraines), insomnia, nervous exhaustion, inflammatory conditions of the nerves

Digestive system

  • Flatulence, bloating, indigestion, inflammatory conditions, cramping, poor appetite, motion sickness

Epithelial

  • Skin conditions (acne, eczema)
  • Topical conditions (cuts, bite, scrapes, stings, burns, infected wounds)

 

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Essential Oil

Topical Uses

  • Acne, arthritic pain, blisters, bites, burns, bruises, cuts, earaches, eczema, sprains, stings, sunburns)

Physical conditions

  • Exhaustion, headaches, insomnia, migraines, nausea

Psychological conditions

  • Depression, fear, hyperactivity, impatience, insomnia, irritability, mood swings, negativity, panic attacks, relaxation, worry

References:

Aromatherapy – Christine Westwood

Class Notes – Living Earth School

Earthwise Herbal, The – Matthew Wood

Holistic Herbal – David Hoffman

Medical Herbalism – David Hoffman 1

New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown