Lavender oil is one of the most popular and widely used essential oils among the aromatherapists because of its calming aroma and numerous benefits. Because of its popularity, it is also one of the most adulterated essential oil in the market. There are not only unrelated oils that are sold as lavender oil but also there are many varieties of lavender oil available in the market. Read on to know further.
Lavender is a group of more than 30 known species of small aromatic flowering plants in the Lavandula genus, commonly known as Lavender. It belongs to the Lamiaceae family or mint family.
Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region and is now grown across Europe, northern and eastern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and North and South America, Southwest Asia, and northern India, especially the state of Kashmir.
Bulgaria is one of the largest producers of lavender in the world. Some of the locations that produce the best quality lavender oils are Bulgaria, France, Italy, and Kashmir.
Although lavender is not widely cultivated in Kashmir, the quality of the Kashmir lavender oil is considered to be one of the best, possibly because distilling lavender at a high altitude allows for lower temperatures and lower pressure for distillation of the oil, which allows the volatile phytochemical to come through and be present in the final product.
Some of the main species in the Lavandula genus are: English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), French Lavender (Lavandula dentata), Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia), Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), and Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia).
Synonyms of Lavender
Please note that some species are known in reference to country names like English lavender, French Lavender, Spanish Lavender, and Portuguese lavender but it is not that they are grown in these countries only. Most of these species are grown widely in other countries also.
History of Use of Lavender
Lavender has a rich and long history of use for centuries, especially in the Mediterranean region. It was cultivated by Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for its fine floral, refreshing fragrance, versatile therapeutic actions, and multi-purpose usefulness. The Romans used it in baths, beds, clothes, and hair.
Lavender oil was distilled and used in medieval times in Persia and France. At that time, Spike lavender was much more widely used in essential oil. Lavender was used in first commercial-level production of scent in the United Kingdom, in Mitcham, Surrey, in the seventeenth century.
How Lavender Oil is Extracted?
Lavender oil is extracted from flowers and leaves of the plants using steam distillation. Around 100-150 KG of the herb produces 1 kg oil yield.
Characteristics of Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is a mobile clear to pale yellow fluid. It has a light sweet-herbaceous floral odor, with faint fresh overtones and mild woody undertones.
|Botanical Name||Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) | Lavandula dentata (French Lavender) | Lavandula latifolia (Spike Lavender) |Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender)|
The scent of Spike lavender is stronger and more pungent than English lavender scent due to a higher presence of camphor.
Composition of Lavender Oil
Hundreds of compounds have been identified in lavender oil. Some of the compounds found in lavender oil are:
- Esters 40–55% (incl. linalyl acetate 30–60%, lavandulyleacetate <6%, geranyl acetate)
- monoterpenols 27–52% (incl. linalool and its acetic esters 26–50%, geraniol, terpineol, borneol, lavandulol)
- sesquiterpenes 2–8% (incl. beta-caryophyllene 2–8%, farnesene)
- monoterpenes 4–5% (incl. beta-ocimenes, limonene, pinene, camphene)
- oxides 2% (incl. 1,8-cineole 0.5–2.5%, linalool oxide)
- ketones 4% (incl. camphor <1%, octanone < 3%)
- lipic aldehydes 2% (incl. myrtenal, cuminal, benzaldehyde)
- lactones, coumarins 0.3%
Please bear in mind that the composition of lavender oil varies from species to species; however, the majority is dominated by linalool and linalyl acetate.
Quality of Lavender Oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the most sought after essential oil in the world. There are very high chances of adulteration with lavender oil.
- It is often adulterated with cheaper Lavandin oil or simply cheaper, more large-scale industrial versions of the same species, including from the clonal varieties.
- Lavender oil may be adulterated with synthetically created compounds like linalool, linalyle acetate, terpenyl propionate, isobornyl acetate, terpineol and fractions of Ho leaf and Rosewood oils.
- Sometimes other unrelated species such as Lavender sage (Salvia lavandulifolia), Lavender oregano (Origanum dubium ct. linalool) and Lavender tea tree (Melaleuca ericifolia) are being sold as ‘lavender’ oil.
The following are a few characteristics compositions of lavender oil of fine quality.
- The amount of linalool and linalyl acetate should never more than 80%.
- The amount of cis and trans ocimenes (common monoterpene hydrocarbons) should at least be 9%.
- Lavadulyl acetate should be at least 4.5%.
- The concentration of camphor should be below 0.5%.
Blending with Lavender Oil
Properties of Lavender Oil
Lavender oil has analgesic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, calmative, diuretic, regenerative, sedative, and tonic properties.
Benefits of Lavender Oil
Out of the numerous benefits of lavender oils, let’s discuss a few for everyday usages.
One of the most widely known benefits of lavender oil is as a relaxant and anxiolytic because of its unique mix of calming, balancing and somewhat uplifting aroma. Lavender oil is effective in dealing with anxiety, tension, fear, and depression. It also helps in reconcile emotional conflict and balancing mood swings.
One of the advantages of lavender oil over drugs such as benzodiazepines or pregabalin is that lavender oil has a calming effect without producing sedation and lacks a withdrawal syndrome.
As per a study conducted in 2017, standardized lavender oil proved short-term efficacy in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including subsyndromal anxiety disorder (anxiety not otherwise specified), GAD, restlessness, and agitation with disturbed sleep, and Mixed Anxiety and Depressive Disorder.
According to another study, in addition to having a better anxiolytic effect in comparison to the placebo, lavender improved associated symptoms such as restlessness, disturbed sleep, and somatic complaints and had a beneficial influence on general well-being and quality of life.
Lavender oil is suggested as a natural remedy to treat insomnia and improve sleep quality. Lavender oil improves the quality and duration of sleep and general mental and physical health without causing any unwanted sedative or other drug-specific effects.
According to a study, diffused lavender oil might be used as a temporary relief from continued medication for insomnia and reduces the side-effects of these drugs. In another study, the administration of lavender odor showed a trend towards an improved quality of daytime wakefulness and more sustained sleep at night on hospitalized patients.
For a restorative sleep add four drops of Bulgarian lavender with two drops of Roman chamomile in a diffuser.
Lavender oil is a natural skincare agent. It promotes healing and regeneration of skin. For any skin-care challenge, lavender is your number one go-to oil. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are beneficial in a number of skin conditions like allergic reactions, acne, and aging effects.
Lavender oil can be used to treat ulcers, burns, scarring, eczema, psoriasis, insect bites, etc.
Lavender oil is possibly effective in the treatment of hair loss, particularly associated with alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body. Research shows that lavender can promote hair growth by up to 44 percent after 7 months of treatment.
To get the best results, dilute lavender oil with a carrier oil of your choice, preferably coconut oil or jojoba oil, and massage with the blend on the scalp. For better results, wrap your head with a towel after massage and leave it in overnight. Otherwise, at least wait for 5-10 minutes before rinsing out.
Lavender oil is effective to be used for the treatment of surface infection in the form of a prophylactic or topical application. Lavender oil stimulates new cell growth, kills bacteria, prevents scarring, and reduces pain.
Its regenerative and healing properties stimulate tissue repair and aid in wound healing, especially in case of cuts, burns, insect stings. It is also helpful in soothing skin irritations, razor bumps, and sunburn.
A study conducted in 2016 found that the topical application of lavender oil promoted collagen synthesis and differentiation of fibroblasts, accompanied by the up-regulation of TGF-β. It concluded that lavender oil has the potential to promote wound healing in the early phase by the acceleration of formation of granulation tissue, tissue remodeling by collagen replacement and wound contraction through up-regulation of TGF-β.
Apply a few drops of diluted lavender oil on the affected area.
Since the Rene Gattefosse’s find of the healing power of lavender oil for burns, lavender oil is an absolute classic for treating first-degree burns. Regenerative and healing properties of lavender oil stimulate tissue repair.
To get the best results, apply a few drops of diluted lavender oil on the affected area.
Lavender oil is an effective natural treatment for acute as well as chronic or intractable pain. The use of lavender oil is shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, wakefulness, and pain in patients.
A study conducted on 200 term pregnant women to evaluate the effect of lavender essence on post-cesarean pain found aromatherapy using lavender essence to be a successful and safe complementary therapy in reducing pain after CS.
To get the best results, apply a few drops of diluted lavender oil on the affected area.
The analgesic and antispasmodic properties of lavender oil make it useful for relieving common aches and pains like headaches, especially sinus headaches.
According to a placebo-controlled clinical trial, inhalation of lavender essential oil is suggested to be an effective and safe treatment modality in the acute management of migraine headaches.
To get the best results, apply a few drops of diluted lavender oil on the affected area or use inhalation methods.
According to a study, lavender oil is helpful in dealing with mood changes and instability during menopause. Its calming action makes lavender useful for relieving premenstrual tension, alleviating insomnia and promoting restful sleep.
Another randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial suggested that a blend of lavender, clary sage and rose is effective in decreasing the severity of menstrual cramps. Aromatherapy can be offered as part of the nursing care to women experiencing menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea.
According to another study, aromatherapy massage with lavender accompanied with rose geranium, rose, and jasmine in almond and primrose oils once a week for 8 weeks is reported as an effective treatment of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, depression, and pain in climacteric women.
- Motion Sickness: It is also useful as a first-aid treatment in case of motion sickness due to its calmative action. Blend with peppermint or ginger oil to enhance this effect.
- Urinary Tract Infection: Lavender oil is beneficial in treating urinary tract and bladder infections. Its antiseptic properties make it an effective treatment for vaginal yeast infection when used as a douche. Blending it with tea tree or juniper berry oil can enhance this effect.
- Relieve Respiratory Disorders: Lavender oil can help alleviate respiratory problems like colds and flu, throat infections, cough, asthma, whooping cough, sinus congestion, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. It can be applied on your neck, chest, or back, or inhaled via steam inhalation or through a vaporizer.
Safety With Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing oil. Conduct a patch test before using topically. Dilute with a carrier oil before each use, especially if you sensitive skin.
Consult your healthcare provider if you’re pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or being treated for other health challenges. Keep out of reach of children.
Care must be taken in storing lavender oil. It must be stored in a cold and dark place. The shelf life of lavender oil is around 4-5 years.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only, it is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or, diagnose any disease or condition. Nor is it intended to prescribe in any way. This information is for educational purposes only and may not be complete, nor may its data be accurate.
Kymberly Keniston-Pond. Essential Oils 101 Konstantine, Ramit. “Essential Oils: A Complete Guide to Healing With Natural Herbal Remedies, Alternative Therapies, and Using Essential Oils For Beauty, Essential Oils For Stress and Weight
Loss Susan Burgess. Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Beginners: Au Naturoil: A Guide for Stress Relief, Healing Remedies and Natural Cleaners – With Over 100 Essential Oil Recipes
Jean Valnet. The Practice of Aromatherapy