LAVENDER FLOWERS

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Herbal Monograph

Herb:   LAVENDER FLOWERS    (Lavendula angustifolia)

Other Names:    not to be confused with other varieties of lavender such as L. intermedia and latifolia.  The varieties are often mixed commercially.    (2)

Other binomials include L. vera, L. officinalis.    (57)

Character/Energetics:    bitter, dry, mainly cooling   (15)

Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected:      

Part(s) used:    fresh flowers collected just before opening    (2)

flowers    (8)

Cultivating:   see “The Herbal Handbook” by David Hoffman, pgs 191-192

Identification & Harvesting:    a 2′ high shrub heavily branched with leafy, erect, grey-green young branches.  Leaves are oblong-lanceolate, margined, green with glandular spots beneath.  Flowers are in whorls of 6-10 amethyst-colored, freshly aromatic blossoms.  Fruit is a glossy brown nutlet.  Cultivated widely.  When the dried herb has a high proportion of stem and leaf material, it is less valuable.    (2)

Gather just before opening between June and September.  Dry gently at 95F or lower.    (8)

Harvest toward the end of flowering when the petals have begun to fade. Dry in small bunches covered with paper bags to collect the florets as they fall.   (15)

Flowers are usually separated from the spikes in the market.  Calyx is tubular, purplish grey and five-toothed, with 13 veins, one tooth being larger than the others.  The corolla is two-lipped, the upper lip with two and the lower lip with three lobes.  Entire flower has a dense covering of stellate hairs, with tiny, shiny oil glands visible under a lens.  Tastes pleasant.  Fragrant and characteristic odor.    (57)

Active Constituents:    Volatile oils 1-3%, chiefly (-)-linalool 20-50%, linalyl acetate 30-40%, cis-ocimene, terpinene-4-ol, beta-caryophyllene, lavandulyl acetate;  hydroxycoumarins, incl. umbelliferone, herniarin;  tannins;  caffeic acid derivatives incl. rosmaric acid.    (2)

up to .5% of volatile oil containing linalyl acetate, linalol, geraniol, cineole, limonene, sesquiterpenes.    (8)

Volatile oil, tannins, coumarins, flavonoids, triterpenoids    (15)

Actions:    choleretic, cholagogue, mild sedative, antiflatulent.  Externally, a rubefacient.    (2)

nervine, sedative, antispasmodic, mild diuretic, anti-inflammatory   (1)

carminative, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressant, rubefacient.    (8)

      …relaxant, circulatory stimulant, nervous system tonic, anti-bacterial, analgesic, carminative, promotes bile flow, antiseptic    (15)

Stimulant, carminative.    (57)

Conditions & Uses:    Treats mood disturbances such as restlessness or insomnia, nervous stomach irritations;  externally, used in treatment of circulatory disorders.    (2)

Apart from having a delightful fragrance, lavender flowers are an effective and valued medicinal herb. The flowers are the most commonly used, but in some parts of the world the leaves are also used in making tinctures, decoctions, e·tc. Perhaps its most effective use is in a tincture where the oil is distilled from the herb. Lavender flowers are used as antispasmodics, sedatives, mild diuretic. They have been used in headaches, fainting, nervous prostration, and dizziness. The leaves have stomachic, carminative and chologogue properties. These are usually used as a tea for flatulence, nausea and vomiting.  Donsbach (1)

Lavender is widely used externally for its mild pain-relieving and anti‑inflammatory effects and is a favorite first aid remedy not only for burns but also minor wounds, sprains, insect bites and stings, athlete’s foot, and muscular aches and pains. Inhaled through the nose, lavender’s fresh, flowery  aroma has a sedating eflect on the central nervous system. It is a mild soporific that can help induce sleep, alleviate stress, and reduce depression and nervous tension. It may also boost immunity and alleviate headaches.

Buying lavender: It is sold as a concentrated liquid, typically in quantities of one ounce or less, as well as in a variety of body care products and combination remedies w·th names like Tranquillity and Euphoria.  NHS (1)

Many uses, culinary, cosmetic and medicinal:  relieves headaches, esp. stress headaches, depression, esp. combined with other herbs.  As a gentle nervine it may be used in nervous debility, exhaustion, insomnia.  The oil can be applied externally for rheumatic pains.    (8)

Seldom used in medicine.  Spike lavender oil is distilled from L. latifolia and other spp. growing in France and Spain.  This is largely used for preventing insect bites.    (57)

Combinations:    Combine with other sedative or carminative herbs.    (2)

For depression, combine with rosemary, kola or scullcap;  for headaches, combine with lady’s slipper or valerian.    (8)

Precautions:    The volatile oils possess a weak potential for sensitization.  No known hazards or side effects with designated dosages.    (2)

(Not really a precaution):  oil is best used externally, or inhaled, not taken internally.    (8)

Avoid high doses of lavender during pregnancy, because it is a uterine               stimulant   (15)

Tincturing Process:

Applications:    Bath:    boil 100 g. of the herb with 2 liters of water and add to the bath.    (2)

Makes an exotic-tasting tea best served as a mild infusion spiked with lemon.   “Herbal First Aid” (1)

              Infusion: take for nervous exhaustion, tension headaches, or during labor; also for colic and indigestion. Give a weak infusion (25% normal strength) to babies for colic, irritability, and excitement.

  Tincture: take up to 5 ml, twice a day, for headaches and depression.

              Mouthwash: use for halitosis    (15)                

Infusion is 1 drachm flowers to a pint of boiling water.    (57)

Divination:

Dosage:    3-5 g. dried herb, or 1-4 drops of the oil may be placed on a sugar cube.    (2)

General Notes:         One of the most popular medicinal herbs since ancient times, lavender derives its name from the Latin lavare, to wash. In Arab medicine, lavender is used as an expectorant and antispasmodic, while in European folk tradition it is regarded as a useful wound herb and worm remedy for children. 

        Species used medicinally include L. Angustifolia or L. Spica.   (15)

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References:

(1) Joniris Herbals Research Data, “Lavender Flowers” file

(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 929

(8)  The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 210

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody,  pg. 73

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 204