Part Used: Dried flowers (Provence, France)
Lavender (Lavandula vera) is a shrubby plant indigenous to the mountainous regions of the countries bordering the western half of the Mediterranean, and cultivated extensively for its aromatic flowers in various parts of France, in Italy and in England and even as far north as Norway. It contains the common narrow-leaved variety, grows 1 to 3 feet high (in gardens, occasionally somewhat taller), with a short, but irregular, crooked, much-branched stem, covered with a yellowish-grey bark, which comes off in flakes, and very numerous, erect, straight, broom-like, slender, bluntly-quadrangular branches, finely pubescent, with stellate hairs. Distilled oil from the flower has applications as a stimulant, tonic, headache relief, and for relief of intestinal gas. It is also used to quiet coughs and disinfect wounds. Historically, Lavender was used as an antiseptic and for mental health purposes. Today, the herb is used for conditions such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and depression. Lavender is also used for headache, upset stomach, and hair loss.
There is little scientific evidence of Lavender's effectiveness for most health uses. Small studies on Lavender for anxiety show mixed results. Some preliminary results indicate that Lavender oil, combined with oils from other herbs, may help with hair loss from a condition called alopecia areata. Applied as a compress, Lavender oil provides relief from neuralgic pains, rheumatism, sprains, and sore joints. The principal constituent of Lavender is the volatile oil. The chief constituents of the oil are linalool and its acetic ester, linalyl acetate, which is also the characteristic ingredient of oil of bergamot and is present in English oil of Lavender to the extent of 7 to 10 per cent. Other constituents of the oil are cineol (in English oil, only a trace in French oils), pinene, limonene, geraniol, borneol and some tannin. Lavender oil has aromatic, carminative and nervine properties. In modern times, Lavender is cultivated around the world and the fragrant oils of its flowers are used in aromatherapy, baked goods, candles, cosmetics, detergents, jellies, massage oils, perfumes, powders, shampoo, soaps, and tea. Many people find Lavender aromatherapy to be relaxing, and it has been reported to have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. Lavender aromatherapy is traditionally used for relaxation.
Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-lavender.html
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicines. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/lavender/