Lavender

Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae

Lavandula officinalis

 

Lavender is native to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean where it grows in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the U.S.  

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION

Lavender is a heavily branched short shrub that grows to a height of about 24 inches. Its broad rootstock bears woody branches with upright, rod like, leafy, green shoots. A silvery down covers the green narrow leaves, which are oblong and tapered, attached directly at the base, and curled spirally. (Univ. of Maryland medical center)
Aside from the roots, lavender oil is present in all parts of the plant. The long, thin leaves and the natural oils provide the plant with its natural protection in the wild, enabling it to survive mid-summer droughts, rendering the plant unappetizing to most grazing animals, and yet, with its heady fragrance, attracting potential pollinating insects. (bees that have browsed on lavender produce an especially rich, intensely flavored honey) (50 plants that changed the course of History)

ALSO CALLED

Bastard Lavender, Common lavender, English lavender, Garden Lavender, Hidcote Lavender, Jean Davis Lavender, Lady Lavender, lavender, Munstead Lavender, Rosea Lavender, True Lavender, Twickle Purple Lavender

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PHARMACOGNOSY

CONSTITUENTS

 

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ETHNOBOTANY

HISTORY

One of the earliest references to lavender in European medicine is by Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century abbess, who said it refreshes and frees the spirit and fosters “pure knowledge and a clear understanding” (Fluckinger 1879) She also noted its effectiveness against fleas and head lice.
While in 77 CE, Dioscorides, author of the De Materia Medica, noted its healing qualities, especially for burns and wounds.
In the 19th century lavender oil was recommended for hysteria, nervous headache and other nervous afflictions. (Bently & Trimen 1880).
Lavender-flower tea was also used as a remedy for headache due to fatigue or weakness, and the essential oil was taken internally to counteract faintness, nervous palpitations, spasms, and colic.

FOLKLORE

The name lavender derives from the Latin lavo (to wash). Family- mint – Lamiaceae

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PREPERATION METHODS

Lavender oil also, is used as an insecticide and is great for mosquito bites, along with infusers, sprays and salves.
Lavender flowers can be used in soaps, in pillows, and some species of flowers can be used in cooking.  See Lavender Cookie Recipe. 

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INDICATIONS

Use

The flowers have carminative, spasmolytic, tonic, sedative and antidepressant properties. Lavender (infusion or oil) us used for spasms, colic, neuralgia and nausea, internally as well as externally (Leaung,1980). It may also be effective for headaches and for inducing sleep. Lavender is a gentle strengthening tonic for the nervous system and benefits those suffering from nervous exhaustion. (Hoffman 1983)

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PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

 It is contraindicated in pregnancy. Never use the oil internally.

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