Lavender or Lavandula is an herb genus with 47 species native to the Mediterranean region. The main benefits of lavender are improving sleep, reducing anxiety, and alleviating pain and inflammation. Its anti-viral, antimicrobial, and calming properties help the body reduce physical and psychological stress and strengthen the immune system. Aromatherapy also plays a vital role for the herb in positively affecting human health.
Lavender is best cultivated in temperate climates with well-drained soil and at least six to eight hours of direct sun exposure. The herb flourishes in France, Italy, and Spain. Currently, nations like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the United States are leading the commercial production of lavender.
Due to the floral scent of its flowers and stems, the species Lavandula angustifolia, or “English Lavender,” is commonly used in culinary to flavor food and beverages and in cosmetics as perfume. It is widely used to provide fragrance to soaps, lotions, and shampoos. With its dried purple blooms packed in sachets, lavender is employed as fragrant fillers for closets, drawers, and linens. The herb is also utilized as an antiseptic and disinfectant. While lavender is generally well-tolerated, it may cause side effects like skin irritation, nausea, and vomiting.
Some lavender supplements available include teas, tinctures, and essential oils. When produced as pills, lavender is manufactured with other herbal extracts and compounds. The top company manufacturers of lavender are NOW, Bio-Botanical Research, and Dr. Mercola.
What Are The Benefits Of Lavender?
Lavender is one of the oldest plants in human history, with records dating back to 2,500 years ago when it was used to treat anxiety and poor sleep. Here are some proven and preliminary health advantages consumers can obtain from lavender consumption:
1. Helps Improve Sleep
Lavender positively affects sleep when introduced via olfactory pathways during wakefulness. In the study led by Namni Goel, 31 adults aged 18 to 30, who were healthy sleepers, were subjected to three consecutive overnight sessions to examine the effects of lavender aromatherapy. The researchers instructed the subjects to maintain their habitual daytime activities. However, they were not allowed caffeine, exercise, or nap periods. On the second and third nights, the participants inhaled lavender for two minutes in a 10-minute interval before bedtime. Researchers gathered the results via polysomnographic recordings and the Profile of Mood States Questionnaire (POMS). The former is a comprehensive sleep pathology evaluator, recording brain waves, respiratory and cardiac effort, and eye and leg movements. The latter is a standard psychological questionnaire of 65 words/statements used to test dimensions of mood changes over time. After the experiment, researchers observed an increased deep or slow-wave sleep percentage and improved vigor the following morning. Interestingly, the female participants registered a reduced wake after sleep onset (WASO) latency; on the other hand, the male study subjects had increased WASO (the time to reach wakefulness after first falling asleep).
In another research study led by In Sook Lee, college women reported improved sleep latency, insomnia severity, and sleep satisfaction. The 42 participants diagnosed with insomnia observed positive results after aromatherapy using 60% lavender. Another 64 patients diagnosed with ischemic heart disease of both genders reported an improved sleep score quality in the research study headed by Mahin Moeini. Researchers used two drops of lavender on a cotton ball placed inside a box positioned 7.87 inches (20 cm) from the study subjects’ beds. The patients then inhaled naturally during the treatment, which lasted nine hours each night for three days. The team of Li-Wei Chien also found the same results using 0.25 ml of essential lavender oil in 50 ml of water diffused via an ultrasonic ionizer. The treatment lasted for three months and was done twice per week. The researchers positioned the diffuser 3.94 – 5.90 inches (10 – 20 cm) from the study subjects and conducted the therapy for 20 minutes.
An orally administered preparation containing 80 mg of lavender oil (Silexan) has been shown to increase total sleep time, improve mood and sleep quality, and reduce waking frequency and duration. Researcher Siegfried Kasper and his team recorded that the beneficial effects of lavender can be attributed to its primary components, linalool, linalyl acetate, 1.8-cineole, beta-ocimene, terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. Linalool was found to inhibit glutamate (the chief excitatory neurotransmitter) from binding in the brain cortex, contributing to the action of lavender.
2. Reduces anxiety
Traditional medicine uses lavender for its calming effect owing to its pleasant floral scent. Science has explored this benefit and attributes the anxiolytic property to lavender volatile active compounds (linalool and linalyl acetate).
In a clinical trial headed by A. Ozkaraman, cancer out-patients at least 18 years of age inhaled lavender essential oil as the experimental group. For the first therapy, the administering nurse placed a cotton ball with lavender on each participants’ neck and shoulders, at around 10 inches below their nose. After the initial session, the participants repeated the lavender therapy at home every night at 9 p.m. for five minutes for a month. The results showed no change in anxiety levels after a single treatment. However, long-term use (one month) decreased the study subjects’ anxiety levels.
Research conducted by S. Kasper evaluated the effect of Silexan (a standardized lavender extract produced in capsules) in subsyndromal anxiety disorder (a common psychiatric disorder characterized by long-term anxiety not related to any physiological conditions). A study group composed of 221 participants consumed 80 mg of Silexan for 10 weeks. After the treatment, the subjects reported improved anxiety symptoms and anxiety-related sleep problems.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure And Heart Rate
Because of the calming effect of lavender, the herb can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs. In the study conducted by N. B. Karan, a research population of 126 patients aged 18 to 37 inhaled 100% pure Lavandula angustifolia before their wisdom tooth extraction. After the surgery, the participants registered decreased blood pressure and respiratory rate. They also enjoyed the lavender scent and verbalized that it helped their anxiety.
In a study conducted by Winai Sayowan, researchers tested how the inhalation of lavender oil influenced the autonomic nervous system, brain activity, and emotional state. In particular, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates involuntary body processes, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Clinicians performed the trial in a series of three sessions. The first session lasted for 10 minutes and was considered the resting phase without any intervention. In the following session, the participants inhaled 1 ml of pure sweet almond oil administered via a respiratory mask operated by an oxygen pump system. The rate of airflow was 2 L/min for 20 minutes. The final session, also lasting for 20 minutes, used 1 ml of 10% lavender oil in almond oil (base oil). After each session, the ANS parameters were assessed: heart rate, skin temperature, and respiratory rate were checked at one-minute intervals, and blood pressure every five minutes. The study showed decreased pulse and breathing rates after the first session compared to the resting phase. After lavender inhalation, there was also a significant further reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, skin temperature, and heart rate.
It is important to note that some studies found a contradiction to these effects, such as the testing by Sriboon, where an increase in blood pressure was observed after lavender oil was inhaled via an aroma lamp. However, the researchers attributed this to the hedonic effect (pleasant or unpleasant), where the body reacts to pleasant stimuli by decreasing ANS parameters and increasing similar parameters to unpleasant stimuli.
4. Decreases Menopausal Hot Flashes
Researchers accredit the positive effects of lavender on menopause to its ability to activate neurons leading to limbic system stimulation. In the clinical trial published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, researcher Roya Nikjou found evidence that lavender decreased the symptoms of menopause. A study group of women aged 44 to 55 experiencing menopausal hot flashes was divided into a control and experimental group. The former was given a glass with diluted milk, while the latter was given lavender essence. Both glasses had the same form, color, and size. The participants smelled them twice a week for 20 minutes. After the four-week trial, the intervention group reported a significant decrease in flushing symptoms.
The results from a crossover trial conducted by R. Kazemzadeh and his team coincide with these findings. Menopausal women aged 44 to 55 underwent a treatment lasting 12 weeks with a washout period of four weeks. There was no difference in hot flashes experienced by both groups before the therapy. However, there was a significant decrease in menopausal symptoms after lavender treatment. The researchers attributed this positive effect to the reduction in stress hormones and stimulation of beta-endorphin secretion. Beta-endorphins are considered the body’s internal opioid system for pain relief.
5. Helps Treat Skin Blemishes
Lavender has widely been used in the cosmetic industry to lessen skin blemishes (any discoloration, mark, or spot that appears on the skin). In the study led by D. Andrys, lavender at 0.01, 0.001, and 0.0001% promoted procollagen synthesis by fibroblasts in the skin. The amino acids in procollagen minimized dark spots and prevented the skin’s aging process. In another study led by Marietta Bialon, lavender positively benefited the skin through its antimicrobial property. The researchers found that a lavender oil concentration of 70 µL/cm3 was most effective at reducing the number of microbial cells in the skin. This antimicrobial characteristic helps prevent skin breakouts that cause further discoloration.
6. Relieves Asthma Symptoms
The effects of lavender essential oil in reducing asthma symptoms stem from the herb’s traditional use. To date, there is no evidence of this benefit in humans. However, a few animal studies evaluated the effects of lavender on asthma and its symptoms.
Asthma is a lung disease triggered by allergens causing inflamed airways and hypersecretion of mucus. Researcher Tomoe Ueno-lio and his team used either 5 μL or 20 μL of lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) to perform aromatherapy on BALB/c mice that were 6-8 weeks old. The treatment was conducted inside an 11 in x 8.5 in x 4 in (28.5 cm x 21.5 cm x 10 cm) inhalation cage where a 4 in x 4 in filter paper with lavender oil was placed on the upper side of the cage. The therapy lasted for 20 minutes for five days. After the treatment, the researchers observed a decreased number of total cells, lymphocytes, and eosinophils in the mice administered 20 μL of lavender. Lung resistance was the least in the lavender group, and inhalation of the herb reduced the increase in airway hyperresponsiveness. The lavender treatment also inhibited mucus hyperplasia (an increase of mucus in airways usually due to allergens, oxidants, or toxins). The researchers deduced that lavender presents a novel role in allergic airway inflammation and mucous hyperplasia.
In a study using another lavender species, Lavandula dentata, male guinea pigs with ovalbumin-induced asthma were treated with 300 mg/kg of lavender extract for 21 days. After the treatment, Z. N. Almohawes and his colleagues recorded that the experimental group had a decreased IgE concentration. The researchers concluded that lavender might be a potent asthma suppressant by lowering IgE levels.
7. Helps Combat Fungus Growth
Researchers have found evidence that lavender has antifungal properties. In the in vitro study by E. Bona and team, lavender essential oil showed inhibitory effects on 48% of 30 Candida albicans strains.
Another study supports this result. Lavender effectively impeded fungal growth in Candida albicans compared to clotrimazole (an antifungal drug). F. Behmanesh and researchers prepared dilutions of lavender and clotrimazole with a pure solvent Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) in 1/10, 1/20, 1/40, 1/80, and 1/160 ratios. The preparations were assessed after 24 and 48 hours. After the first day, the cell count in the lavender group was lower than in the clotrimazole group and more pronounced after 48 hours in all dilutions. During the two assessments, the lavender group dilutions of 1/20 and 1/80 significantly differed. Interestingly, the 1/10 dilution had a higher fungal cell count after 48 hours than the other preparations. The researchers noted that some drugs are more effective at lower dilutions. They also stressed the importance of the study results in providing an alternative antifungal treatment given the rise in drug resistance and adverse effects of available antifungal drugs.
8. Promotes Wound Healing
Studies have shown that lavender can effectively heal insect bites and burns. Researchers Mori et al. focused on the topical application and usage of lavender. They found that it improved the healing process by forming granulation tissue, remodeling tissue, and promoting wound contraction. In a study by Hartmann and Coetzee, patients with chronic ulcers were administered a 6% concentration of lavender and chamomile. The treatment group had wounds that healed after 420 days, but the control group did not have complete wound healing.
It is best to note that scientists instituted a precautionary measure in the topical use of lavender due to possible allergic reactions, degradation of its unstable compounds, and low aqueous solubility. In this notion, Maryan Kazmie and her team experimented on a nanoemulsion preparation of lavender. Nanoemulsion is a drug delivery approach using thermodynamically stable nano-sized systems that improve efficacy by minimizing possible side effects and increasing the solubility and bioavailability of the herb. The team employed 220-250 adult male Wistar rats. After anesthesia administration, the researchers created a 2 cm diameter oval full-thickness wound on the study subjects’ necks. Lavender extract with licorice in nanoemulsion form was applied daily to the post-surgical site covering the whole area for 14 days. Other groups were given lavender and licorice emulsion form, phenytoin 1%, or Eucerin ointment. The lavender-licorice nanoemulsion group showed the highest wound contraction at different assessment periods. There was also an upregulation of TGF-β1, which controls collagen synthesis and tissue granulation. Researchers suggested the potential use of nanoemulsion formulation with lavender essential oil to improve wound healing, but further human studies are needed.
9. Impedes Bacterial Growth
Aside from its antifungal properties, lavender also exhibits antimicrobial abilities. An in vitro study by Veronika Valkova, showed that lavender essential oil had significant resistance against Pseudomonas aeruginosa (a gram-negative bacteria).
In the preliminary study done by Daniela Predoi and her team, the researchers experimented on the feasibility of using hydroxyapatite (HAp) coated with lavender essential oil as an antimicrobial agent. HAp is a naturally-occurring form of calcium commonly used in pharmaceutical and medical fields due to its similarities with hard human tissue. HAp with lavender essential oil showed inhibitory characteristics against gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) and gram-negative (Escherichia coli) bacteria. Lavender recorded an inhibition zone of 16 mm in E. coli to 24 mm in S. aureus. It was effective compared to HAp alone. The results provided evidence that HAp particles can be used as carrier agents for low concentrations of lavender essential oil with antibacterial properties.
10. Potentially Promotes Hair Growth
There is no evidence of the effects of lavender on hair growth in humans. However, a preliminary study was conducted on C57BL/6 mice by Boo Hyeong Lee and colleagues using lavender oil for its hair growth-promoting properties. The study subjects were divided into four groups: the saline group, jojoba oil (vehicle carrier) group, lavender group (3% and 5%), and minoxidil group. The researchers applied the different treatments on the shaved backs of the mice five times per week, lasting for four weeks. There was no new hair growth observed after a week. However, hair follicle growth was observed at week three in the lavender and minoxidil group. Minoxidil is a topical drug used to treat baldness. After four weeks, there was a significant increase in the hair follicle number, depth, and dermal thickness in the lavender and minoxidil groups.
What Are The Risks (Side Effects) Of Lavender?
While lavender is well-tolerated in most of the research done to evaluate its benefits and efficacy, the consumer may experience these side effects:
- Increased appetite
- Skin irritation after topical application
A case report of a 45-year-old female with an erythematous on her back, persisting for two weeks, was documented. History review of the patient included topical use of Ketoprofen (Fastum gel), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. When the gel components were examined, it was noted to contain 2% lavender oil. The results suggested the case was photoallergic contact dermatitis, increasing precaution on the possible allergic reactions to lavender.
Research results and scientists have raised the precaution on these conditions and individuals taking or planning to consume lavender. It is best to consult a medical doctor before taking lavender or other essential oils to prevent possible side effects and undesirable outcomes.
- Pregnant women: The essential oil of the species Lavandula stoechas may cause miscarriage when taken orally. Moreover, there is limited research on lavender and its effect on pregnancy and the growing fetus.
- Teenage boys in puberty: A medical journal published in Nutrition Review states that there is an increasing number of cases of gynecomastia (overdevelopment of breast tissues in males). The condition is attributed to the topical application of lavender and tea tree oil. Dr. Kenneth Korach, Ph. D. found these essential oils to contain properties hindering the hormones that control puberty. When the individuals stopped using the essential oils, the symptoms disappeared.
- Patients who will undergo surgery requiring anesthesia: Since lavender slows down the nervous system, its combination with anesthesia might cause an overly depressed nervous system. It is best to stop lavender consumption two weeks before surgery.
- Taking lavender with sedative medications: This combination might cause breathing problems or extreme sleepiness.
How Does Lavender Work Within The Human Body?
Lavender affects the human body with the help of the active ingredients linalool and linalyl acetate. While it is usually administered orally, lavender is also employed in aromatherapy (inhalation), aromatherapy massage, dripping oil, and bathing.
As an anti-anxiety agent, the effects of lavender are attributed to its inhibitory property of the voltage-dependent calcium channels in the neurons found in the hippocampal region. Studies also recorded that lavender suppressed autonomic activation resulting in decreased or normalized vital signs. When used in aromatherapy, lavender helped endorphins release into plasma, reducing stress hormones. In terms of topical application, researcher Benjamin Malcolm stressed that lavender could rapidly penetrate cell membranes and reach serum concentrations over 100 ng/ml. Moreover, P. H. Koulivand and his team mentioned in their research study that lavender serum levels reached their peak 19 minutes after topical administration.
Another mechanism by which lavender affects and promotes sleep and relaxation is its influence on melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone produced primarily by the pineal gland in the brain that regulates the circadian rhythm. In the study headed by R. Velasco-Rodriguez, participants 60 years and older inhaled 92.5 mg of lavender dispersed into the atmosphere. For four weeks and two aromatherapy sessions per week, the researchers utilized five drops (326 mg) of 100% lavender oil diluted in 20 ml distilled water infused for thirty minutes. After the eighth session, the blood melatonin of the participants showed increased serum levels from a mean of 102.3 pg/ml to 132.5 pg/ml. As part of the aging process, melatonin levels decrease, but the researchers found evidence that lavender helped increase melatonin which further aided sleep cycles.
How Do You Determine The Correct Lavender Dosage?
The appropriate amount of lavender to consume depends on dosage factors, such as gender, age, purpose, scientific research, and route of administration.
For oral administration, a trademarked drug, Silexan, has shown efficacy in improving sleep in patients with insomnia and anxiety. Aromatherapy in adults 18-30 years old for 10 min effectively treated sleep problems, while a five-minute therapy proved efficient in reducing anxiety symptoms in long-term use. The topical application of lavender at 1/20 and 1/80 dilution inhibited fungal growth, and a 6% combination of lavender and chamomile helped wound healing.
What Are The Facts About Lavender?
Mainly cultivated in Europe, lavender is a perennial plant that produces green waxy leaves and blue or purple flowers. Other species can also have white, pink, yellow, or red blooms. The color of the flower comes from the compound anthocyanin.
Like mint, lavender belongs to the order Lamiales and the family Lamiaceae. The most cultivated species is Lavandula angustifolia. Essential oil from this species is the main component of lavender health supplements and cosmetic products. The tallest lavender can grow up to 3 ¼ feet (100 cm) like the hybrid species Lavandula x intermedia from English lavender and Portuguese lavender. On the other hand, the shortest lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) matures at 1 foot (30 cm).
Lavender emits a pleasant fragrance often described as a combination of balsam fir, honey, and thyme and is a common sight in shrub gardens because of its attractive flowers and fragrant leaves. This aroma is attributed to its terpene compounds from the oil glands embedded in plant hairs (trichomes) covering the stems, leaves, and flowers.
How Is Lavender Processed?
Lavender processing refers to the steps taken to produce a delivery form of the herb. In this case, lavender essential oil is the primary form that supplement manufacturers utilize in making health supplement products.
The first step is chopping and drying the lavender flowers and placing them in a large stainless container. In another chamber, water is boiled to create steam, which is supposed to pass through the lavender flowers. Distillation machinery can be used to remove oil and other compounds from the plant material, releasing it as a vapor at 5-6 atmospheres. The steam is funneled into a cooling chamber or a condenser, and hot water is decanted off from the vapor. At this stage, oil floats on the water, and this is the lavender essential oil used in the supplement, culinary, and cosmetic industries.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Lavender?
Genus Lavandula has 47 species whose relative level of components varies per type. Here are the chemical constituents of lavender essential oils according to the International Standard:
- Linalyl acetate (25-45%)
- Linalool (25-38%)
- (E)-ocimene (4-10%)
- Terpinen-4-ol (2-6%)
- Lavandulyl acetate (>2%)
- (Z)-ocimene (1.5-6%)
- 1,8-cineole – eucalyptol (<1%)
- Alpha-terpineol (<1%)
- Camphor (<0.5%)
When lavender is incorporated into food, the herb provides a low-fat, low-calorie, and floral-scented meal. A 100-g serving contains the following:
- 49 calories
- 1 g fat
- 287 IU vitamin A
- 215 mg calcium
- 2 mg iron
What Are The Supplement Forms Of Lavender?
Lavender supplements are produced in the following forms:
1. Lavender Extract
Lavender extract is produced from the flowers using extraction solvent, such as purified water or edible ethanol, allowing good solubility and safety. This processing form is utilized for food flavoring and beverages.
A more concentrated form of liquid lavender is essential oil. The company W. Spitzner Arzneimittelfabrik GmbH, based in Germany, developed a standardized form of lavender essential oil. As the purest form of lavender, it is produced via steam distillation, containing linalool 36.8% and linalyl acetate 34.2%.
Why Is Lavender Extract Useful?
With its many valuable properties, a lavender extract is an excellent option for those wanting to improve their health and quality of life. It has been proven effective in improving sleep patterns, heart rate, and blood pressure. The extract has also shown positive benefits in hot flashes, wound healing, and fungal growth.
2. Raw Lavender
This processing form of lavender entails using fresh or dried buds, flowers, and stems. The most common species for this form are English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and lavandins (Lavandula x intermedia). Raw lavender contains less oil than processed forms used in the standardized formulation for perfumes and soaps.
Like other health herbs, raw lavender is manufactured to achieve standard formulation efficacy, longer shelf life, and convenient administration. The following are different delivery forms of lavender:
1. Lavender Powder
This delivery form is made from dried and pulverized lavender plant parts. It is an organic, green powder with a mild lavender scent and is mainly used in cosmetics, soaps, skin lotions, perfumes, and other body care products. It can also be combined with baking soda and serve as a natural carpet deodorizer. Some insect repellants utilize lavender powder as a natural ingredient. The following are product brands that use lavender: Weleda Body Care, Desert Essence, NOW, Heritage, Good Clean Love, and Goddess Garden.
2. Lavender Pills (Tablets and Capsules)
The tablet and capsule forms of lavender provide an accurate herb dosage. These forms also allow other compounds and herbal extracts to be combined with lavender for a more beneficial health product.
There is no available health supplement containing purely lavender produced in a tablet. However, the company, W. Spitzner Arzneimittelfabrik GmbH, based in Germany, manufactures standardized lavender oil in capsule form. The company makes Silexan which contains 80 mg of lavender extract and is approved for use in subsyndromal anxiety. Silexan is commonly used in research studies involving the oral intake of lavender.
New Chapter formulates lavender tablets with other compounds and herbal extracts. Vital Nutrients, DaVinci Labs, Terry Naturally, Gaia Herbs, and Natural Factors produce the capsule form.
3. Lavender Tea
This delivery form is made from the dried parts of lavender. It contains only trace amounts of active compounds from the herb. Fresh lavender buds can also be brewed into tea. Four teaspoons of the herb is an excellent sleep remedy. In the research study by Shu-Lan Chen, lavender tea improved the quality of sleep in postpartum mothers after two weeks of acknowledging the herb’s aroma and then taking a full cup of tea afterward. The company Yogi Tea produces lavender tea.
4. Lavender Oil
There are two types of lavender oil sold in the market. Lavender massage oil contains the essence of the herb and carrier oil. It is used to lubricate the skin and reduce friction during massage therapy. This delivery form helps to protect from possible skin irritation when the lavender is directly applied to the skin. In the clinical study headed by B.M Sahin, postoperative patients who underwent gynecologic surgery reported decreased pain levels per a Verbal Rating Scale (VRS). The result was based on subjective reporting 30 minutes after lavender massage compared to the controlled group. These companies manufacture massage oils with lavender as an ingredient: Banyan Botanicals, Aura Cacia, and W.S. Badger Company.
The second type, essential oil, contains purely lavender essence. Some lavender essential oils are standardized to a 40/42 formulation: 40% linalool and 42% linalyl acetate. Essential oils can be mixed with a carrier oil in making lavender massage oil, sprinkled onto cotton, tissue, or cloth for inhalation, or added to a vaporizer or diffuser for aromatherapy. The companies Dr. Mercola, Amrita Aromatherapy, and Garden of Life produce lavender essential oils.
5. Lavender Tincture
Lavender tincture is made from the entire herb and contains active compounds. Compared to essential oils, tinctures are specifically formulated for internal consumption. The companies Herb Pharm and Gaia Herbs produce lavender tinctures.
6. Cooked Lavender
While not necessarily a supplement form of lavender, cooked lavender still produces health benefits like other herb forms. Cultivators grow culinary lavender from English lavender or lavandin and make them into lavender butter or sugar for baked goods.
What Is The Etymology Of Lavender?
The word lavender is a Middle English word based on the Anglo-Norman French word lavendre, which is also from the Medieval Latin term Lavandula, meaning “the lavender plant.” It may also come from the Latin word lividus, which means “bluish,” and be influenced by lavo, meaning “to wash,” pertinent to lavender’s use in washing clothes.
What Place Does Lavender Have In Society And Culture?
Lavender found its prominence in ancient times, and different societies in various eras have particular and distinctive symbolism and meaning for the herb.
The ancient Romans burned lavender inside temples and planted the herb around their homes for good luck. The Egyptian civilization regarded the herb as sacred because of its aroma and medicinal properties. In the Middle Ages, witches were believed to make incantations using lavender because of the herb’s affinity to death and evil spirits. During the late 1800s, women were encouraged to carry a sachet of dried lavender flowers around their necks for protection against diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.
In the present society, lavender flowers denote calmness, devotion, grace, silence, and serenity. The color purple is considered the color of royalty; it symbolizes elegance, luxury, and refinement. The color is also linked with the crown chakra, radiating from its center energy with a higher purpose and spiritual connectivity.
What Are Some Food Recipes That Contain Lavender?
Culinary artists use lavender in grilled entrees, desserts, baked goods, and beverages because of its floral flavor and aroma with subtle earthiness, herbaceousness, and mint. Some species give off a fruity, woody, or smoky flavor. Here is a list of food and beverage recipes that utilize lavender as an ingredient:
- Lamb Leg with Lavender
- Wild Turkey with Lavender Masala
- Grilled Pork Chops with Lavender and Rosemary
- Wyebrook Farm Fried Chicken
- Pepita and Lavender Brittle
- Concord Grape and Lavender Sorbet
- Lemon-Lavender Tea Cookies
- Lavender Galaktoboureko
- Blueberry-lavender Cornmeal Cream Tarts
- Lavender Lemonade
- Peach LavenderJam
- Lavender Spritzer
What Are The Lavender Parts?
Lavenders are small green flowering shrubs in the mint family that secrete a distinctive floral scent. They have numerous health uses, including physiological and psychological benefits. Here is a list of the lavender parts with their characteristics and purposes:
- Flowers: The floral part of the lavender plant is the main ingredient of the essential oil used in supplements. The flower is distinctly purple with a delicate, sweet smell combined with woodsy and herbal undertones. The blossoms are arranged on the spikes at the tips of long bare stalks, making them similar to a star. The blooms’ scent is from the glossy oil glands immersed in tiny star-shaped plant hairs (trichomes) that enclose the flowers, stems, and leaves.
- Leaves: The foliage of lavender is characteristically narrow and elongated in gray to green hues. At about 2 inches long, lavender leaves are covered with trichomes (minuscule, star-shaped hairs), including flowers and stems. They grow densely in clumps 2-3 feet wide in a spiral formation with the leaves packed together. In moderate climates, lavender leaves are evergreen; in frost season, the plants die back down to the earth and sprout new leaves in the spring.
- Stem: Growing 2-3 inches, the stalks of lavender are slender and square. The new stem is usually green and flexible for the first year but thickens and gets woody, changing from square to round.
- Roots: Lavender has a shallow root system with an average depth and spread of 8-10 inches. The roots grow best in sandy soil or rocky conditions as long as they have good drainage. Since lavender is a frost-hardy perennial, the roots withstand winter under the earth even in freezing temperatures.
What Is The History Of Lavender?
Since ancient times, around 2,500 years ago, lavender has been establishing its importance in different cultures. It is believed to originate from the Mediterranean, India, and the Middle East. The Romans presumed the herb to have healing properties and used it to dress wounds. They also cleaned themselves in lavender baths. The Egyptians used the herb’s calming effects on the mind; they also utilized lavender as a perfume in their mummification process. Aside from using lavender as an adornment in temples and statues, ancient Greeks employed it in healing skin infections, headaches, and indigestion. The Greeks called lavender nardus or more commonly Nard, after the Syrian city of Narada. Owing to its flowers that grow on the blunt spikes of its leaves, the people in India call lavender spikenard.
The first-ever written record about the healing properties and uses of lavender is that of Dioscorides in 77 AD. He was a Greek military physician who collected medicinal plants and herbs around the Mediterranean.
During medieval times, France used lavender as a currency. Physicians of this era, like Razi and Ebn-e-Sina, prescribed the herb for treating migraine attacks and epilepsy. Lavender was also found to be helpful in the alleviation of pain and tremors. When the bubonic plague affected Europe and Asia, lavender was utilized to ward off the disease and mask the smell of death.
In the Renaissance Period, washing women were called “lavenders” and applied the herb in drawers when cleaning and sun-dried laundry on top of lavender bushes. The beginning of lavender in America can be traced back to the Shakers (a group of non-conformist Protestant sects that left Europe for America during the 17th century). They were the first to commercially cultivate lavender by developing it upon their arrival from England. They produced medicines from lavender and sold them to the “outside world.”
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the use of lavender as an ingredient in deodorant was popularized. Queen Victoria of England approved the herb; she had all of her furniture cleaned using a lavender-based solution, and her preferred beverage was lavender-infused tea. Furthermore, Queen Elizabeth deemed it necessary to have lavender marmalade on the royal table and fresh blooms throughout the residence. The herb then became accepted and Victorians planted it in gardens.
The popularity and prominence of lavender in North America began in 1933 with the formation of the Herb Society of America. Years before this, in 1924, L.J. Wyckoff, then a Seattle resident, spearheaded the commercial growing of lavender in the Pacific North. In recent years, research studies on lavender examined its effects on humans based on its traditional uses and discovered new benefits.
What Are The Other Plants That Are Called Lavender From Time To Time?
Some plants are mistaken for lavender because of their flowers, leaves, general appearance, and similar benefits. Here are some herbs that are called lavender from time to time:
- Sage (Salvia officinalis): This perennial herb is native to Southeastern Europe and grows up to 3 feet, sprouting violet blooms in the summer. It is often an adulterant for lavender or a substance found in a product but not officially listed as part of the ingredients.
- Purple Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia): This herb, also a member of the mint family, looks similar to lavender with its light purple to pale pink, aromatic blossoms, and densely arranged inflorescence (flower head of a plant, namely, flower, bract, and stalk). Like lavender, its leaf system and stems are covered with short hairs.
- Floral Spires Lavender Basil (Ocimum basilicum): At first glance, this herb can be mistaken for lavender due to its lavender flower spikes on top of bushy, green foliage.
- Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus): This aromatic herb is an evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves. The pale blue to white flowers of rosemary are arranged in an inch-long cluster appearing in winter and spring.
- Catmint (Nepeta mussinii): Like lavender, catmint bears spikes of pale purple flowers and sprouts gray-green leaves.
What Are The Most Common Questions For Lavender Usage?
With its prominence in treating anxiety and improving sleep and its availability as an herbal supplement, common questions about lavender usage focus on its frequency and time of usage, safety, source, and latest trends in research. Below are common questions concerning the use of lavender:
Are Lavender Supplements Approved By The Authorities?
No. The Food and Drug Administration regulates health supplements like lavender as dietary supplements, not as drugs. That means these supplements do not need prior approval from the FDA to be sold. However, once they are on the market, the FDA starts exercising its safety monitoring function. It reviews supplement labels and promotional materials as its resources allow and monitors whether there are safety complaints about the product. The supplement manufacturer is required to report any of these complaints to the FDA within 15 days of receiving them. While extensive pre-marketing approval is not a requisite in manufacturing supplements in the United States, lavender is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration.
Can You Take Lavender At Night?
Yes, lavender is primarily used to improve sleep and reduce anxiety. Taking it at night, before bedtime, promotes a favorable outcome.
Can You Take Lavender After A Meal?
While lavender is utilized in traditional medicine for relieving gastrointestinal disorders, there is no indicated timing of consumption or administration relative to meals.
Can You Take Lavender Every Day?
Yes. Lavender can be taken every day at the prescribed dosage. The supplements available have adjusted dosages for daily use. However, it is best to note that the extensive research-based lavender consumption period is 10 weeks. It is best to consult your physician if you plan to take the supplement beyond this period.
Can A Child Take Lavender?
Yes, a child can take lavender via aromatherapy. Various studies support the positive effects of lavender on a child’s experience in overcoming anxiety before dental procedures. The team of Ipek Arslan recorded a decrease in face image scale (FIS) in children 6-12 years old after inhaling two drops (0.1cc per drop) of lavender essential oil compared to the control group after tooth extraction. In the study by Faezeh Ghaderi, children aged 7-9 inhaled a diffusion of two drops of pure lavender in 100 ml of water. The results showed that lavender reduced pulse rates and salivary cortisol levels during a dental treatment and pain perception during a dental injection. The researchers deduced that lavender could be an alternative for stress and pain control in pediatric dental settings.
Can Your Pet Consume Lavender?
While most research studies on lavender use mice as subjects, there is no scientific evidence on common home pets. Lavender may even be toxic to dogs and cats. These house pets lack the enzyme to synthesize the active ingredients of lavender (linalool and linalyl acetate). According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), lavender may cause nausea and vomiting when taken in significant amounts. The symptoms may progress, causing central nervous system depression and liver damage.
Which Plant Produces Lavender?
The lavender plant produces the extract utilized as an ingredient in supplements. It is a robust, perennial shrub that thrives in plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 per the United States Department of Agriculture. Lavandula angustifolia is the most common species employed in culinary and as a scent in lotions, creams, shampoos, soaps, and perfumes.
What Are The Top Scientific Research Topics For Lavender?
When it comes to health supplements and their primary ingredients, consumers and medical professionals search for their benefits and proof of these advantages to humans. According to the medical research website Pubmed, the following are the most-searched topics for lavender:
- Sleep quality
- Dental anxiety and pain in children
- Treatment of migraine headache
- Wound healing
- Sleep hygiene on self-reported sleep issues
- Depression-like behavior
Why Does Lavender Calm You Down?
Lavender acts as an anxiolytic and calms a person down because of the active ingredients linalool and linalyl acetate. Lavender represses autonomic activation, decreasing and normalizing vital signs. It also helps release endorphins into plasma, reducing stress. Upon electroencephalography (EEG), administration of lavender increased the power of theta and alpha waves in all brain regions. Alpha waves refer to a pattern of brain activity produced when meditating and daydreaming.
Is Breathing Lavender Oil Good For You?
Yes. Breathing lavender oil is proven to be good for you, if following the recommended guidelines. It needs to be diluted in a carrier oil or used in small amounts for 100% essential oil. Lavender aromatherapy has been found to help improve sleep, reduce anxiety, decrease blood pressure and heart rate, and reduce hot flashes associated with menopause.
Can You Drink Lavender Water?
While lavender is generally safe when taken in capsules, there is no scientific evidence of it being diluted and consumed directly by mouth. It is best to consult your physician when planning this route of administration.
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