Lavender.

Botanical Name :Lavandula spp
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Lavanduleae
Genus: Lavandula
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Syn.  : Lavandula angustifolia,   :Lavandula  officinalis

Common name : Lavender.

L. stoechas, L. pedunculata and L. dentata were known in Roman times. From the Middle Ages onwards, the European species were considered two separate groups or genera, Stoechas (L. stoechas, L. pedunculata, L. dentata) and Lavandula (L. spica and L. latifolia), until Linnaeus combined them. He only recognised five species in Species Plantarum (1753), L. multifida and L. dentata (Spain) and L. stoechas and L. spica from Southern Europe. L. pedunculata was included within L. stoechas.

By 1790 L. pinnata and L. carnosa were recognised. The latter was subsequently transferred to Anisochilus. By 1826 Frédéric Charles Jean Gingins de la Sarraz listed 12 species in three sections, and by 1848 eighteen species were known.

One of the first modern major classifications was that of Dorothy Chaytor in 1937 at Kew. The six sections she proposed for 28 species still left many intermediates that could not easily be assigned. Her sections included Stoechas, Spica, Subnudae, Pterostoechas, Chaetostachys and Dentatae. However all the major cultivated and commercial forms resided in the Stoechas and Spica sections. There were four species within Stoechas (Lavandula stoechas, L. dentata, L. viridis and L. pedunculata) while Spica had three (L. officinalis (now L. angustifolia), L. latifolia and L. lanata). She believed that the garden varieties were hybrids between true lavender L. angustifolia and spike lavender (L. latifolia).

More recently work has been done by Upson and Andrews, and currently Lavandula is considered to have three subgenera.
Subgenus Lavandula is mainly of woody shrubs with entire leaves. It contains the principal species grown as ornamental plants and for oils. They are found across the Mediterranean region to northeast Africa and western Arabia.
Subgenus Fabricia consists of shrubs and herbs, and it has a wide distribution from the Atlantic to India. It contains some ornamental plants.
Subgenus Sabaudia constitutes two species in the southwest Arabian peninsula and Eritrea, which are rather distinct from the other species, and are sometimes placed in their own genus Sabaudia.

In addition there are numerous hybrids and cultivars in commercial and horticultural usage

Habitat :Lavender is native to the Old World and is found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, southern Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. Many members of the genus are cultivated extensively in temperate climates as ornamental plants for garden and landscape use, for use as culinary herbs, and also commercially for the extraction of essential oils. The most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia is often referred to as lavender, and there is a colour named for the shade of the flowers of this species.

Description:
Lavender is an annual or short-lived herbaceous perennial plant, and suffrutescent perennials, subshrubs or small shrubs.

Leaf shape is diverse across the genus. They are simple in some commonly cultivated species; in others they are pinnately toothed, or pinnate, sometimes multiple pinnate and dissected. In most species the leaves are covered in fine hairs or indumentum, which normally contain the essential oils.

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Flowers are borne in whorls, held on spikes rising above the foliage, the spikes being branched in some species. Some species produce coloured bracts at the apices. The flowers may be blue, violet or lilac in the wild species, occasionally blackish purple or yellowish. The calyx is tubular. The corolla is also tubular, usually with five lobes (the upper lip often cleft, and the lower lip has two clefts).

Cultivation:
The most common form in cultivation is the common or English lavender Lavandula angustifolia (formerly named L. officinalis). A wide range of cultivars can be found. Other commonly grown ornamental species are L. stoechas, L. dentata, and L. multifida (Egyptian lavender).

Because the cultivated forms are planted in gardens worldwide, they are occasionally found growing wild as garden escapes, well beyond their natural range. Commonly such adventitious establishment is apparently harmless at best, but in some cases Lavandula species have become invasive; for example, in Australia Lavandula stoechas has become a cause for concern; it occurs widely throughout the continent, and has been declared a noxious weed in Victoria since 1920.  It also is regarded as a weed in parts of Spain.

Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun.[10] All types need little or no fertilizer and good air circulation. In areas of high humidity, root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem. Organic mulches can trap moisture around the plants’ bases, encouraging root rot. Gravelly materials such as crushed rocks give better results

Edible Uses:
It is grown as a condiment and used in salads and dressings.  Flowers yield abundant nectar from which bees make a high-quality honey. Monofloral honey is produced primarily around the Mediterranean, and is marketed worldwide as a premium product. Flowers can be candied and are sometimes used as cake decorations. Lavender flavours baked goods and desserts (it pairs especially well with chocolate), and is also used to make “lavender sugar”. Lavender flowers are occasionally blended with black or green teas, or made into tisanes.

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Though it has many other traditional uses in southern France, lavender is not used in traditional southern French cooking. It does not appear at all in the best-known compendium of Provençal cooking, J.-B. Reboul’s Cuisinière Provençale In the 1970s, a herb blend called herbes de Provence usually including lavender was invented by spice wholesalers, and lavender has more recently become popular in cookery.

Lavender lends a floral and slightly sweet flavour to most dishes, and is sometimes paired with sheep’s-milk and goat’s-milk cheeses. For most cooking applications the dried buds (also referred to as flowers) are used, though some chefs experiment with the leaves as well. Only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender, from which the scent and flavour of lavender are best derived.

In the United States, both lavender syrup and dried lavender buds are used to make lavender scones and marshmallows.

Parts Used: Flowers, leaves and stems

Constituents:  volatile oil (up to 1.5%, containing linabol, linalyl acetate, lavendulyl acetate, terpinenol, cineole, camphor, borneol, pinene, limonene), tannins, coumarins (coumarin, umbelliferone, hemiarin), flavonoids, triterpenoids, rosmarinic acid

Medicinal Uses:
Acne * Air Fresheners * Anxiety * Aromatherapy * Beauty * Burns * Candida/yeast * Children * Colds * Culinary/Kitchen * Cuts & Wounds * Depression * Ear * Facial Care * Fibromyalgia * Headache/Migraine * Hypertension * IBS * Insect Repellent * Insect/flea Bites * Lice * Lupus * Nausea * Pet * Pregnancy/Childbirth * Skin Care * Sleep/Insomnia

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Properties: * Analgesic * AntiCancer * Antifungal * Antioxidant * Antiperspirant/Deodorants * Antirheumatic * AntiViral * Aromatic * Cardiac tonic Cordial * Cholagogue * Cicatrisant * Cytophylactic * Diaphoretic/sudorific * Diuretic * Emmenagogue * Hypotensive * Insect repellents * Muscle Relaxant * Nervine * Parturient * Sedative * Splenic * Vermifuge * Vulnerary

The essential oil was used in hospitals during World War I.

Lavender has some powerful properties for such a gentle, sweet smelling flower. Lavender can lift your spirits, help you sleep, relieve pain, kill germs, heal burns and rashes, and help keep annoying insects at bay.

In the evening lavender comes into its own, the relaxing and sedative aroma of lavender has an almost immediate effect as soon as it hits the sensitive membranes inside your nose.  Duke, 138-139  Soaking in a lavender scented bath relaxes away mild depression and anxiety and may even lower high blood pressure.  129  Regular lavender baths are recommended throughout a woman’s pregnancy.  Gladstar, 36

Clinical trials confirm the conventional wisdom that lavender relaxes the body in the presence of pain, most likely by reducing anxiety levels. A calm mental state makes pain more bearable, lessening it’s impact by reducing the perception of pain. 130,131 Massage with lavender oil at tender trigger points reduces the pain and tension of fibromyalgia in long term sufferers. Weed 51  Lavender combines well with the analgesic power of rosemary to relieve all types of pain: arthritis, sore muscles, and nerve pain. Lavender can also be used in a massage oil to relieve the pain and arthritic stiffness older dogs, (but not cats). Worwood 173

Lavender is well regarded for it’s skin healing properties as well. It’s effectiveness in treating burns was first discovered by French biochemist René Gattefossé when he cooled his hand in a handy vat of lavender after burning it in a lab accident. This storied burn healed so quickly, and without scarring, that it is often cited as a seminal event in the birth a modern aromatherapy.  Balch 89  To make a all purpose remedy for scalds, burns, and sunburns: apply a cloth wet with witch hazel, then apply a few drops of lavender essential oil directly to the burn.

A recent clinical study investigated anxiolytic effects and influence on sleep quality. Lavender oil with a high percentage of linalool and linalyl acetate, in the form of capsules, was generally well tolerated. It showed meaningful efficacy in alleviating anxiety and related sleep disturbances.

Lavender may be very effective with wounds; however, Lavender Honey (created from bees feeding on lavender plants), instead of lavender essential oil has the best effects of uninfected wounds.

Other Uses:
Flower spikes are used for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourris. Lavender is also used extensively as herbal filler inside sachets used to freshen linens. Dried and sealed in pouches, lavender flowers are placed among stored items of clothing to give a fresh fragrance and to deter moths. Dried lavender flowers have become recently popular for wedding confetti. Lavender is also popular in scented waters and sachets.

The ancient Greeks called the lavender herb nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda (possibly the modern town of Dohuk, Iraq). It was also commonly called nard. The species originally grown was L. stoechas.

Lavender was one of the holy herbs used in the biblical Temple to prepare the holy essence, and nard is mentioned in the Song of Solomon

*nard and saffron,
*calamus and cinnamon,
*with every kind of incense tree,
*with myrrh and aloes,
*and all the finest spices.

During Roman times, flowers were sold for 100 denarii per pound, which was about the same as a month’s wages for a farm laborer, or fifty haircuts from the local barber. Its late Latin name was lavand?rius, from lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb lav?re (to wash). The Greeks discovered early on that lavender if crushed and treated correctly would release a relaxing fume when burned.

In medieval times powdered lavender was used as a condiment.

In the past, lavender has been used as a folk remedy for numerous conditions, including acne, cancer, colic, faintness, flatulence, giddiness, migraine, nausea, neuralgia, nervous headache, nervous palpitations, poor appetite, pimples, rheumatism, sores, spasms, sprains, toothache, vomiting and worms.  Lavender salts have been employed for centuries as a stimulant to prevent fainting; lavender oil vapor is traditionally inhaled to prevent vertigo and fainting. A compound tincture of lavender (also known as Palsy Drops) was officially recognized by the British Pharmacopoeia for over 200 years, until the 1940s.  Used to relieve muscle spasms, nervousness, and headaches, it originally contained over 30 ingredients.  Tests show that lavender’s essential oil is a potent ally in destroying a wide range of bacterial infections, including staph, strep, pneumonia, and most flu viruses. It is also strongly anti-fungal.  A lavender-flower douche is an effective treatment for vaginal infections, especially candida-type yeast infections.  Lavender ointments are rubbed into burns, bruises, varicose veins, and other skin injuries.  The straight oil is dabbed on stops the itching of insect bites.

Known Hazards:
Lavender oil can be a powerful allergen, and it is also recommended that it should not be ingested during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The volatile oils in lavender can be very hard on the liver and kidneys of cats and dogs so no internal use of the herb is suggested for our animal friends.

In vitro, lavender oil is cytotoxic. It increases photosensitivity as well. Lavender oil is cytotoxic to human skin cells in vitro (endothelial cells and fibroblasts) at a concentration of 0.25%. Linalool, a component of lavender oil, may be its active component. Aqueous extracts reduced mitotic index, but induced chromosomal aberrations and mitotic aberrations in comparison with control, significantly. Aqueous extracts induced breaks, stickiness, pole deviations and micronuclei. These effects were related to extract concentrations.

However, according to a 2005 study “although it was recently reported that lavender oil, and its major constituent linalyl acetate, are toxic to human skin cells in vitro, contact dermatitis to lavender oil appears to occur at only a very low frequency. The relevance of this in vitro toxicity to dermatological application of lavender oils remains unclear.”

In terms of phototoxicity, a 2007 investigative report from European researchers stated that, “Lavender oil and sandalwood oil did not induce photohaemolysis in our test system. However, a few reports on photosensitivity reactions due to these substances have been published, e.g. one patient with persistent light reaction and a positive photo-patch test to sandalwood oil.”

In 2007, a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine which indicated that studies in human cell lines indicated that both lavender oil and tea tree oil had estrogenic and antiandrogenic activities. They concluded that repeated topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oils probably caused prepubertal gynaecomastia in some boys.[28] The Aromatherapy Trade Council of the UK has issued a rebuttal, and it is also disputed by the Australian Tea Tree Association, a group that promotes the interests of Australian tea tree industry

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavandula
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail31.php

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

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