Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia/officinalis) is a Well Known, Powerful, Yet Underestimated Medicinal Plant.

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Medicinal Plant: Lavender

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Introduction

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is possibly the most well known of all the essential oils, and was one of the favourite aromatics used by the Romans in connection with their bathing activities. Lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, which means ‘to wash’. It is widely used as a toilet water, and forms the principal ingredient of many pot-pourris and sachets, yet its powerful medicinal indications are often over looked and badly understood.

Essential Oil of Lavender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant1Lavender: Highly recognised, but greatly under rated.

Lavender is one of the most frequently used essential oils. It’s applications range from being a ‘nice fragrance’, added to a bath, to treating serious skin burns and infections.

There are many ways in which Lavender is used:

  • Aromatherapy oil
  • Bath gels
  • Extracts
  • Infusions
  • Lotions
  • Mist-sprays
  • Soaps
  • Teas
  • Tinctures
  • Whole, dried flowers and probably others.

It has an unmistakeable fragrance and it’s blue flower is equally well recognised. Lavender is native to the mountainous region of the Mediterranean but has now been cultivated all over the world. The most frequently used essential oil of Lavender is produced in France and distributed worldwide.

Robert Tisserand in his book “The Art of Aromatherapy” provides a lengthy list of Lavender’s properties, which include:

  • Analgesic
  • Anticonvulsive
  • Antidepressant
  • Antiseptic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antitoxic
  • Carminative
  • Cholagogue
  • Choleretic
  • Cicatrisant
  • Cordial
  • Cytophylactic
  • Deodorant
  • Diuretic
  • Emmenagogue
  • Hypotensor
  • Nervine
  • Sedative
  • Tonic
  • Vermifuge
  • Vulnerary

From the above list it is easy to see why Lavender is such a frequently used and favoured herb amongst herbalists, Aromatherapists, and increasingly, even orthodox medical practitioners and nurses.

It’s applications and uses are equally impressive. Tisserand (1992) lists an extensive list of Lavender’s uses, which include:

  • Abscess
  • Acne
  • Alopecia areata
  • Asthma
  • Blenorrhoea
  • Blepharitis
  • Boils
  • Bronchitis
  • Burns
  • Carbuncles
  • Catarrh
  • Chlorosis
  • Colic
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Convulsions
  • Cystitis
  • Depression
  • Dermatitis
  • Diarrhoea
  • Diphtheria
  • Dyspepsia
  • Earache
  • Eczema
  • Epilepsy
  • Fainting
  • Fistula (anal)
  • Flatulence
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Halitosis
  • Headache
  • Hypertension
  • Hysteria
  • Influenza
  • Insomnia
  • Laryngitis
  • Leucorrhoea
  • Migraine
  • Nausea
  • Nervous tension
  • Neurasthenia
  • Oliguria
  • Palpitations
  • Paralysis
  • Pediculosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatism
  • Scabies
  • Scrofula
  • Stones (gall)
  • Sunstroke
  • Throat infections
  • Tuberculosis
  • Typhoid fever
  • Ulcers (cornea, leg)
  • Vomiting
  • Whooping cough
  • Wounds

As is clearly demonstrated by the extensive list above, Lavender is considered a natural remedy for a wide range of ailments from Insomnia and Anxiety to Asthma and Burns, as well as many other conditions.

Wildcrafted Herbal Products that Include Lavender:

Lavender oil has been included in the following Wildcrafted natural skin care products:

Currently Known, Active Compounds In Lavender:

Volatile oil, containing linalyl acetate, with linalool, lavandulyl acetate, borneol, camphor, limonene, cadinene, caryophyllene, 4-butanolide, 5-pentyl-5-pentanolide.
Coumarins; Umbelliferone, herniarin, coumarin, dihydrocoumarin.
Miscellaneous: triterpenes e.g. ursolic acid, flavonoids e.g. luteolin.

 

Scientific Research

Recent scientific research supports anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of Lavender. Below are some abstracts of recent studies into the effectiveness of Lavender.

Moon,T.  Wilkinson, J.M.  and Cavanagh, H.M.A. (2006) Antibacterial activity of essential oils, hydrosols and plant extracts from Australian grown Lavandula spp. International Journal of Aromatherapy, Volume 16, Issue 1.

Abstract

Although there is considerable anecdotal information about the antibacterial activity of lavender oils, much of this has not been substantiated by scientific or clinical evidence. In this study we assessed the activity of Lavender essential oils, hydrosols and aqueous and ethanolic foliage extracts from a range of Australian grown Lavandula species. The results support the anecdotal use of Lavender oils as antibacterial agents and demonstrated that some oils which had previously not been investigated (e.g., Lavandula heterophylla) display good antibacterial activity against a range of bacteria including Streptococcus pyogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, Citrobacter freundii, Proteus vulgaris, Escherichia coli, VRE and Propionibacterium acnes. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was the only bacterium not susceptible to any essential oil. There was considerable variability in the activity of the essential oils however; no one oil produced the highest level of antibacterial activity against all bacteria. No correlation was observed between the percentage of major chemical components and antibacterial activity. The Lavender hydrosols and aqueous foliage extracts did not have any antibacterial activity. Six of the ethanolic extracts displayed activity against Pr. vulgaris but no activity against any other organism. Further work is required to determine whether these in vitro results will be realized in a clinical environment but it is clear that not all lavenders are equal in terms of their antibacterial properties.

 

Evandria, M.G. Battinellia, L. Danielea, C. Mastrangelob, S. Bollea, P and Mazzantian, G. (2005) The antimutagenic activity of Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) essential oil in the bacterial reverse mutation assay. Food and Chemical Toxicology. Volume 43, Issue 9.

Abstract

Essential oils from Melaleuca alternifolia (tea-tree oil) and Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender oil) are commonly used to treat minor health problems. Tea-tree oil possesses broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, and is increasingly used for skin problems. Lavender oil, traditionally used as an antiseptic agent, is now predominantly used as a relaxant, carminative, and sedative in aromatherapy. Despite their growing use no data are available on their mutagenic potential. In this study, after determining the chemical composition of tea-tree oil and Lavender oil, by gas-chromatography and mass spectrometry, we investigated their mutagenic and antimutagenic activities by the bacterial reverse mutation assay in Salmonella typhimurium TA98 and TA100 strains and in Escherichia coli WP2 uvrA strain, with and without an extrinsic metabolic activation system. Neither essential oil had mutagenic activity on the two tested Salmonella strains or on E. coli, with or without the metabolic activation system. Conversely, Lavender oil exerted strong antimutagenic activity, reducing mutant colonies in the TA98 strain exposed to the direct mutagen 2-nitrofluorene. Antimutagenicity was concentration-dependent: the maximal concentration (0.80 mg/plate) reduced the number of histidine-independent revertant colonies by 66.4%. Lavender oil (0.80 mg/plate) also showed moderate antimutagenicity against the TA98 strain exposed to the direct mutagen 1-nitropyrene. Its antimutagenic property makes Lavender oil a promising candidate for new applications in human healthcare.

 

Edwards-Jonesa, V, Bucka, R. Shawcrossa, S.G. Dawsona, M.M. and Dunnb, K. (2004) The effect of essential oils on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus using a dressing model. Burns, Volume 30, Issue 8

Abstract

Patchouli, tea tree, geranium, lavender essential oils and Citricidal™ (grapefruit seed extract) were used singly and in combination to assess their anti-bacterial activity against three strains of Staphylococcus aureus: Oxford S. aureus NCTC 6571 (Oxford strain), Epidemic methicillin-resistant S. aureus (EMRSA 15) and MRSA (untypable). The individual essential oils, extracts and combinations were impregnated into filter paper discs and placed on the surface of agar plates, pre-seeded with the appropriate strain of Staphylococcus. The effects of the vapors of the oils and oil combinations were also assessed using impregnated filter paper discs that were placed on the underside of the Petri dish lid at a distance of 8 mm from the bacteria. The most inhibitory combinations of oils for each strain were used in a dressing model constructed using a four layers of dressings: the primary layer consisted of either Jelonet™ or TelfaClear™ with or without Flamazine™; the second was a layer of gauze, the third a layer of Gamgee and the final layer was Crepe bandage. The oil combinations were placed in either the gauze or the Gamgee layer. This four-layered dressing was placed over the seeded agar plate, incubated for 24 h at 37 °C and the zones of inhibition measured. All experiments were repeated on three separate occasions. No anti-bacterial effects were observed when Flamazine™ was smeared on the gauze in the dressing model. When Telfaclear™ was used as the primary layer in the dressing model compared to Jelonet™, greater zones of inhibition were observed. A combination of Citricidal™ and geranium oil showed the greatest-anti-bacterial effects against MRSA, whilst a combination of geranium and tea tree oil was most active against the methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (Oxford strain). This study demonstrates the potential of essential oils and essential oil vapours as antibacterial agents and for use in the treatment of MRSA infection.

 

Liu, M. Mattson, R.H. and Kim, E. (2004) Influences of lavender fragrance and cut flower arrangements on cognitive performance. International Journal of Aromatherapy, Volume 14, Issue 4.

Abstract

Olfactory and visual effects of Lavender fragrance and cut flower arrangements on cognitive performance of university students (34 females and 32 males) were examined by measuring their performance of completing a mental arithmetic task (calculating speed and calculating accuracy). For female participants, olfactory effects of the Lavender fragrance tended to enhance calculating speed and calculating accuracy, and visual effects of the cut flower arrangements significantly improved calculating speed. For male participants, visual effects of the cut flower arrangements tended to improve calculating accuracy. The combined olfactory and visual treatment did not show positively additive effects to benefit cognitive performance for either gender.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of studies. There are literally hundreds of scientific studies supporting the effectiveness of Lavender in the treatment of various diseases and disorders.

 

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