Lavender Oil

Some lavender flowers beside a amber bottle of lavender oil

The industry that makes the most use of Lavender Essential Oil is the cosmetics industry. The oil is used extensively for both its aromatic and therapeutic properties. It is employed in all types of soaps, creams, lotions, shampoos, conditioner, detergents, perfumes, toilet water, and colognes and can basically be added to any cosmetic product. Lavender Oil is also used in pharmaceutical antiseptic ointments and other pharmaceutical products. It is often added as a fragrance. In the food industry, they use it as a flavoring agent in most food categories as well as alcoholic and soft drinks. It is generally regarded as the most versatile aroma therapeutic essence and is still used as a folk remedy for most of those conditions for which it was used for throughout history. Lavandula angustifolia, formerly Lavandula officinalis/Lavandula vera, is also called Common Lavender, True Lavender, Narrow-leaved Lavender or English Lavender (though not native to England). It is a highly aromatic, evergreen woody shrub, that usually grows up to 1 meter tall, with pale green, narrow, linear leaves and beautifully violet-blue colored flowers on blunt spikes. At room temperature, its oil is a colorless to a pale-yellow liquid and holds a soothing, sweet, floral-herbaceous scent with a balsamic-woody undertone. Altogether it has a very tranquilizing and reassuring smell. Lavender Essential Oil is obtained by steam distillation of the fresh flowering tops of the plant which only yield around 0.2-1% of oil. The oil itself is composed of over 100 constituents, the main ones being linalyl acetate (up to 40%), linalol (25-35%), lavandulol, lavandulyl acetate, terpineol, cineol, limonene, ocimene and caryophyllene. Lavender essential oil has analgesic, anticonvulsive, antidepressant, antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, cicatrisant, cordial, cytophylactic, deodorant, diuretic, emmenagogue, hypotensive, insecticide, nervine, parasiticide, rubefacent, sedative, stimulant, sudorific, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary properties.

History

Lavender and its oils have a long and lavish history, and as an herb, Lavender has been documented in use for over 2500 years. Lavender even appears in the “Song of Songs” or Song of Solomon written around 900 BC. It was most likely the Arabs who were the first to have domesticated Lavender and from there, the tradition spread to Europe around the year 600 AD. Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and Arabs used Lavender as a perfume for incense and for mummification. Ancient Greeks and Romans used Lavender oils for cooking, as a favorite bath scenting oil, for scenting the air and as an aphrodisiac. Other historical uses include repelling mosquitoes, curing animals from lice, taming lions and tigers, snuff flavoring, disinfectant, and as an ingredient in lacquers and varnishes. It was even said that Cleopatra seduced Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony with Lavender’s seductive scent. The name Lavender is derived from the Latin verb lavare, meaning: to wash. The herb was considered luxurious during the antiquity period because of its combined beneficial effects of the strong aroma and qualities of the flower and the oils, combined with the uses of the dried plant in smoking mixtures, giving it great value. In Roman history, during the period of Pliny the elder’s time (23-79 AD) Lavender blossoms were sold for 100 Roman denarii per pound which equaled a farm laborer’s monthly wage or the price you would pay to get 50 haircuts from the barber. Lavender was often mentioned in the Bible under the name Spikenard (derived from the Greek name for Lavender naardus). For example, in the gospel of John 12:3 “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Ancient Christians also believed that Adam and Eve had taken the plant from the garden of Eden, amongst them it was regarded as a holy safeguard against evil, and a Lavender cross was often hung over the doors of Christian houses for protection. In the Dark Ages Lavender increased in popularity throughout Europe and became known because of the protective properties against plague infestation that had been rapidly spreading throughout the continent. People washed themselves with Lavender oil and fastened Lavender bundles around their wrists for protection against the Black Death. In England, the washing women were known as “Lavenders” and they used the herb to scent wardrobe drawers and hung the clothes to dry on Lavender bushes. A variety of European monarchs were known to make use of Lavender and its oils. French kings Charles VI (slept on Lavender-filled pillows), the sun king Louis XIV (enjoyed luxurious Lavender scented baths) and English queen Elizabeth I who demanded to have abundant fresh Lavender flowers at the royal table every day of the year (which was a hard task for the gardener considering the English climate).

Geography

Lavender is a genus of 39 different species of flowering plants and it is native to the Mediterranean regions, the Middle East and South-West Asia. Currently, it’s spread around the world and the largest producers of Lavender and Lavender oils are Bulgaria, France, Spain, England, Italy, South Africa, China, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Skin & Body Care

Lavender essential is a known remedy for acne, abscess, athlete’s foot, boils, burns, bruises, dermatitis, eczema, insect bites and stings, insect repellant, psoriasis, sunburns and wounds.

Hair Care

Lavender essential oil is a known remedy for dandruff, lice, soothing the scalp, and general dermatitis.