Lavandula officinalis (Lavender)

Overview of Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)

A beloved and revered herb throughout history. Very effective herb for anxiety. The essential oil of Lavender may be more effective for short-term anxiety, but the whole flower is better long-term. Cooling herb. A powerful anti-convulsive herb, as well as for insomnia in some people. Great for workaholics with tension in shoulders and neck or perfectionists. Also good for flatulence and minor digestive complaints. Good for depression in combination with others, decent for hypertension. More research into how to use the essential oil effectively would be helpful. This herb CALMS.   


Family: Lamiaceae
Parts used: Flowers

Phytochemistry
Volatile Oils (linalyl acetate, linalool, lavandulyl acetate, borneol, limonene, cadinene, caryophyllene,  4-butanolide, 5-pentyl-5-pentanolide)Volatile oils 
Coumarins (umbelliferone, herniarin, coumarin, dihydrocoumarin)
Flavonoids (e.g. Luteolin)
Triterpenes
lavender

Description of Lavender

Lavender is a perennial shrub, 1-6 ft tall (typically 3 ft), with leaves that are narrow, lanceolate, sessile, opposite, and gray-green in colour. Leaves are covered in fine silvery hairs giving a woolly texture. The flowers are small, purple-blue (occasionally pink, white or yellow), growing in terminal cylindrical spikes. 

Actions

Sedative nervine, Anxiolytic, Anti-depressant, Rubefacient (for soothing pain externally), Anti-spasmodic, Emmenagogue, Carminative, Vulnerary, Anti-pruritic (lessens itching – could be due to anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, analgesic, not sure) 

Hypotensive, Antiseptic, Anticonvulsant, Expectorant 

Historical

Ibn al-Baytar: “Warms the uterus, arrests chronic discharge (stops excessive discharge from uterus), restores its health and helps women to conceive (fertility)” 
Parkinson: “The seed is used for worms, and especially for griefs and pains of the head and brain.” 
Gerard: “The distilled flower water poured over someone with palsy helps.”
Culpepper: “A decoction made of lavender, horehound, fennel, asparagus root, a little cinnamon, is very helpful in the falling sickness (epilepsy) and the giddiness or turning of the brain.” 
Salmon: “Biting of serpents, mad dogs, and other venomous creatures, being given inwardly and also applied poultice-wise to the affected area. The spiritous tincture of the dried leaves or seeds, if prudently given, cures hysteric fits” 
Rudolph Steiner: “For negative states of the soul. If the astral body grasps the physical body too tightly. This results in spasm, tension, paralysis and nerve-wasting.” 
Grieves: “Aromatic, carminative, and nervine properties.” 
Arabs used flowers as expectorant and anti-spasmodic. 
Bees love it and is a good source of honey.
A few essential oil drops in a foot bath were used to relieve fatigue. 
Used topically to relieve toothache, neuralgia, sprains, and rheumatism. 
For hysteria, palsy and similar disorders of debility and lack of nerve power, will act as good nervine stimulant. 

Medicinal Actions

A gentle nervous system tonic, ideal for nervous debility and exhaustion. Used for tension, irritability, nervousness, anxiety, shock and panic. 
The essential oil has been shown to reduce the activity of glutumate (neurotransmitter in brain / amino acid, primary ingredient in MSG and most process foods). Silexan (standardized essential oil) has been shown to be more effective than an anxiolytic pharmaceutical (lorazepam). 
Headaches, migraine, especially if induced by stress and insomnia. 
Sleep, insomnia
Depression, particularly in combination with other plants. 
Cooling relaxant suited to spasmodic conditions that involve the muscles, nerves and vascular system. 
For people who overwork, are stressed, with headaches and tension in the neck and shoulders, or drooping of the head from fatigue, perfectionists.
Halitosis (chronic bad breath), gingevitis. Eases nervous flatulence, dyspepsia, cramping, nausea and vomiting, motion sickness, 
Spasmodic IBS, especially connected with depression and anxiety. 
Helpful in range of respiratory complaints, including: colds, influenze, bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough and pneumonia. 
Nervous palpitation, stress/anxiety related hypertension, and may work for neuroprotection (preserves cognitive function). 
Essential oil externally for rheumatism and arthritis
Footbath for painful / arthritic joints, especially after overexertion. Helps with weakness of limbs and paralysis. 
Useful for dysmennorhea
Aids itchiness and varicose eczema.  
Topically a great vulnerary, particularly burns; also for cysts and fluid cavities with redness. Lavender e.o. is an excellent antiseptic that should be in first aid kits. 

Cautions & Contraindications

Allergy; may be overly estrogenic for some people, particularly teenage boys. 

Cultivation

Fairly easily cultivated, in any friable (crumbly) soil. Grows best on light soil, sand or gravel, in a dry, open and sunny spot. Loam over chalk also suits it. It requires good drainage and freedom from damp in winter. Flourishes on warm, well drained loam with a slope to the south or south-west. A loam that is too rich is detrimental to the oil yield, as excessive nourishment tends to the growth of leaf. Check out Grieves for in-depth growing preferences.  

 

This Post was all about Lavandula officinalis (Lavender)..

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Justin McArthur
Herbalist

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