Lavandula, the genus of which our lovely lady Lavender belongs, is native to the Mediterranean Sea, southern Europe through northern and eastern Africa, as well as Middle Eastern countries to southwest Asia and southeast India, however many gardeners here in America grow lavender in well-drained soil, planters and pots. Lavender is in full bloom in Oregon this season, a wondrous event to witness!
The Lavandula genus includes more than 30 species, dozens of subspecies, and hundreds of hybrids and selected cultivars(3). The different varieties of lavender range in size from about 9 inches to 3 feet tall, although some may grow taller with age, proper care, and a little dose of love. One of the most well-known varieties, L. angustifolia, commonly known as English Lavender, is a frost tolerant species that is very fragrant with colorful flowers of mostly blue and violet. This type of lavender was formerly known as L. vera or L. officinalis(3). At the Dragon Herbarium for example, we offer this variety to our community at our local Portland shop as well as through our website as its traditional name of Lavender offinalis. Another abundant variety of lavender is L. stoechas, which is typically a large late-blooming plant with greenish-grey foliage and a very strong odor. This variety is sometimes known as French lavender. L. latifolia is another worth mentioning, which is a Mediterranean grass-like lavender you may also find more commonly here in America. L. intermedia or Lavandin, is a potent hardy hybrid of L. ofinalis and L. latifolia(3). The various lavenders have similar ethnobotanical properties and major chemical constituents, though they may vary slightly(1).
The description of medicinal benefits of lavender date back thousands of years. The leaves and stems of the plant have been used to prepare decoctions for health-supporting purposes as well as for cosmetic purposes. The Romans used lavender oil for bathing, cooking and purifying the air(3). Early and modern aromatherapy texts advocate for lavender’s use as a microbial-balancing essential oil(3). Lavender oil is a favorite addition to perfumes, soaps and candles because of its pleasant floral essence. In fact, lavender oil was among the aromatics used for anointing those with health, as mentioned in historical ancient texts such as The Bible, and it has been traditionally used to imbue courage and strength in those who wish to connect with the guidance and magic of Mother Nature in a simple way.
Established herbalist David Hoffman in his comprehensive book titled “Medical Herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine”, describes the essential oil of lavender as consisting generally of linalyl acetate, β-linalool, and β-caryophyllene(1). The properties of lavender oil are typically researched as antibacterial, antifungal, carminative (smooth muscle relaxant), sedative, antidepressant, promoting wound healing, and increasing the detoxification of enzymes associated with insecticide resistance(1). A number of researchers report the sedative effects of lavender oil caused by the major components linalyl acetate and β-linalool(1). These compounds can be rapidly absorbed through the body by inhalation with plasma reaching a maximum peak in approximately seven minutes after administration, which can cause a depression of our nervous system(4). Researchers also found that individuals felt more relaxed with an improved mood after inhaling lavender oil(4).
With its amazing properties and varied uses, lavender oil is a must-have in every medicine cabinet, toiletries bag, and household cleaning bin. If you would like to add lavender or lavender oil to your botanical collection, Dragon Herbarium offers organic dried lavender flowers in bulk to our community as well as a selection of essential oils from different varieties of lavender including True Lavender (L. angustifolia or L. oficinalis), Lavender Spike (L. Latifolia), and Lavandin (L. intermedia). We also offer a nice selection of handcrafted natural body care products with lavender as the main ingredient, such as our Lavender Soaking Salts, Lavender Sage Deodorant, and Facial Serum.
When it comes to learning how to make our own medicinal herbal remedies, Rosemary Gladstar is one trusted resource, renowned for her knowledge and stewardship in the global herbalist community. She has been learning, teaching and writing about herbs for over 40 years and is the author of eleven books, one of which I own and reference now all the time, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide(2). We sell this book right here at the Dragon Herbarium. Below are a few recipes from the book that I highly recommend to those of you looking to explore the diverse uses of lavender more creatively for your own personal health and wellbeing.
Lavender Antiseptic & Calming Spritzer
- 7 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon vodka or witch hazel
- 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil
- 1 (4) oz spritzer bottle
Combine ingredients in the spritzer bottle. Use this spritzer when you need a quick moment of relaxation. You can mist your car, your bedroom, the bathroom, or wherever your free Spirit takes you! You can also use this to disinfect your environment and your hands as you go, just make sure to shake it well before each use(2)!
Lavender Eye Pillow
- 10”x5” rectangle of soft fabric
- Needle and thread
- 1 oz dried lavender flowers
- Few drops of lavender essential oil
Cut a 10inx5in rectangle out of a soft selected fabric. Stitch the fabric closed on three sides, leaving one end open to fill will lavender flowers. Once you have filled the pillow with dried lavender flowers, stitch the open end shut. For extra medicinal benefit, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the surface of the pillow. You can also heat it in an oven or microwave and place the warm pillow over your eyes or on your neck or lower back for relief from headaches or muscle pain(2).
Lavender Lemon Balm Tea
- 4-6 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers
- 4-6 tablespoons of dried lemon balm leaf
- Tea pot/Glass quart mason jar
- Boiling water
Mix dried herbs in the glass mason jar or tea pot and pour boiling water over the herbs, filling your container. Let steep for 30-45 minutes for a potent medicinal blend. Strain herbs to enjoy warm on its own, with your favorite natural sweetener, or for a delicious and refreshing upgrade during the hot summer months, try adding the tea to some iced homemade lemonade(2)!
For anyone looking to immerse themselves more intimately with the profound therapeutic essence of our Lovely Lady Lavender, I highly suggest visiting Sauvie Island Lavender Farm with a few close friends or family if you have a chance sometime this month. The family-owned and operated farm nurtures 800 lavender plants of 14 different species on a quaint slice of heaven just 0.89 square acres. Welcomed by fairies, your visual, olfactory, and tactile senses will take your Spirit on a dreamscape adventure meandering through purple violet rows of living lavender and blossoming fruit trees. Sauvie Island Lavender Farm opens their gates to the public at the end of the lavender blooming season, typically from June until September. for a small donation, they offer visitors a bundle or a bucket of lavender hand-picked yourself from their lovely lavender garden!
Author of blog: Jillian Mondrow, a passionate Portland botanist and nature lover studying for a masters degree in holistic nutrition.
- Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism the Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press, 2003.
- Gladstar, Rosemary. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. Storey Publishing, 2012
- McCoy, J. Lavender: History, Taxonomy, and Production. 1999 Retrieved from https://newcropsorganics.ces.ncsu.edu/herb/lavender-history-taxonomy-and-production/
- Sayorwan, Winai & Siripornpanich, Vorasith & Piriyapunyaporn, Teerut & Hongratanaworakit, Tapanee & Kotchabhakdi, Naiphinich & Ruangrungsi, Nijsiri. The Effects of Lavender Oil Inhalation on Emotional States, Autonomic Nervous System, and Brain Electrical Activity. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. 2012; 95(4):598-606