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Common Name: Lavender | Scientific Name: Lavandula Officinalis

Family Name: Labiatae


Lavender is the pacifyer for the grown up. The essential oil, applied to the forehead, or just even smelled, settles people down and quick. This action was even tested in a home for very cranky alzheimers patients, who, when cranky, really get their cranky on.


Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet

Parts Used: Flowers and oil extracted from the flowers

Remember This: Passport to La-La Land

Reasonable Uses: nervousness, hysteria, anxiety, irritability, agitation, tension, stress, stress related disorders, muscle cramp, insomnia, tendency towards road rage.

History and Traditional Uses

Imported from Syria by the ancient Greeks for its relaxing fragrance, lavender’s scent freshened rooms, perfumed the body, and scented baths. In fact, its botanical name, Lavandula, comes from the Latin lavare, meaning to wash. The Romans, who knew tension and relaxation, used it in relaxing baths. As far back as the Middle Ages, these purple flowers were used as a home remedy for stress, hysteria, menopausal anxiety, headaches, and even convulsions and fainting spells. Even in modern times, lavender oil is an important ingredient in smelling salts.

Scientific Back Up

Researchers have found that the fragrant, volatile oil in lavender blossoms, contains more than 100 chemical compounds, many which calm the nerves.

Research shows that the volatile oil of this fragrant flower has a mild sedative effect. In a small preliminary study conducted in England, researchers found that lavender oil introduced into the air with a diffuser worked as well as prescription medication for people with insomnia. The study participants also appeared to sleep more restfully.

Herbalists Use It To…
Torch Tension
Many find that by the time their day is over they are wound tighter than a top. They have a hard time enjoying their evening because they are so tensed up. Practitioners recommend a strong cup of lavender tea followed by four drops of lavender oil massaged into the neck and shoulders. Stress melts and floats away.

Just say no to agitation
Sometimes you can feel yourself shifting from a relaxed content mood to a state of agitation. Perhaps a situation happens at work or a child acts up and the serenity starts to slip away. Herbalists say don’t let yourself go all the way. Reach for a cup of lavender tea, a hit of lavender tincture bottle, or a few drops of lavender oil. Let lavender help you maintain your composure.(Even when in the car! )

Help hot heads stay cool
If you tend to be hot under the collar you will find you can stay cool with lavender. The key is using it when you know you are likely to go off, but before you go off. If you tend to loose it in rush hour, use lavender to avoid a road rage conviction! If you tend to blow up at your boss, have some lavender before you go into a meeting. Keep you yourself under control with lavender.

Bring on deep sleep
Sleep is the time our body restores itself. If you are not sleeping well you are unlikely to be doing well during the day. Stress and tension ruins more sleep than any other factor. Use lavender to bring on the deep, relaxed sleep your body needs.

Shopping Tips
Only buy essential oil of Lavender from a reliable source. Make certain it is pure Lavender oil and not lavender oil in a base oil.

Lavender is generally regarded as safe.

Kava kava(Piper methysticum)
Valerian(Valeriana officinalis)

Chapter from “Backyard Medicine Chest” by Dr. Douglas Schar


Please refrain from speaking to me, my head feels like it has a time bomb in it and your voice may set it off.

lavandula officinalis

In that Americans spent nearly three billion dollars on headache medication last year it would seem that the disorder is a fairly common one. Bearing in mind that each bottle of aspirin contains about two hundred pills and costs a few dollars we are talking about a lot of headaches. If you calculate the numbers it would seem that most americans float around life with a headache.

My copy of dorlands medical dictionary , the 20th edition, has a particularly insightful definition of a headache. “Pain in the head” . Well, tell me something I didn’t know.

A few of the causes of headaches are as follows, muscular tension in the neck and head, vascular tension, food allergies, chemical poisoning, brain tumors, and trapped nerves. As usual the stress factor rears its ugly head and it seems stress is at the root of many of our headaches. A day on the highway and at the job result in us tensing up and as we clench the muscles of the face and neck nerves get pinched and “head aches result”. Taking some time to work out a stress management program may reduce the number of headaches a person has. But, since that may or may not happen, lets take a look at an herbal option for treating pain in the head.

For a long time one of the most famous headache remedies was the tea made of willow tree bark. The tea was quite good at ending a headache but was quite unpleasant to get down the hatch. Somehow a pharmacist by the name of Bayer figured out which of the hundreds of chemicals contained in white willow bark was responsible for this headache removing action. He went onto discover how this substance could be made in the lab and produced pills made of this isolated substance. The name Bayer should seem familiar, its the same as one of the largest aspirin manufactures and there is no coincidence. Another plant, famous for its relief of headaches didn’t get pulled and prodded by Bayer – and this is the plant we will use for headaches – Lavender.

Though lavender can be found growing all over the world its real home is the mediterranean region where the best lavender is still produced. French lavender is famous and can be found in sachets in womens underwear drawers just about everywhere. It is one herb that most people can identify in a day when they cant identify many. Sadly, we know it only as a quaint room freshener, its wonderful actions as a drug have been all but forgotten.

As far as plants go lavender is really almost a small bush, left to its own devices in the right environment it becomes woody and rather tall. The plant has attractive silver leaves which when bruised emit the characteristic lavender scent. Lavender belongs to the labiatae family, more commonly known as the mint family. The entire family, including mint, oregona, thyme, sage, and rosemary are quite fragrant and this has to due with the volatile oils they contain.

The volatile oil contained in lavender is made up of linalyl acetate, linalool, lanvandulyl acetate, borneol, camphor, limonene, cadinene, caryophyllene, and some other rather long named ingredients. You may ask your self the question what is a volatile oil and how is that different to other oils. Volatile oils, like volatile people, are not stable. If you put a drop of volatile oil on a piece of brown paper and leave the paper on the kitchen counter over night you would discover in the morning the oil had evaporated. Non-volatile oils dont evaporate as you well know, once on a shirt or a bit of fabric, they are always there. The plant also contains coumarins including umbelliferone, herniarin, coumarin, dihydrocoumarin. Other chemicals contained in the plant include triterpenes and flavanoids.

The Greeks knew of lavender and its powerful fragrance , they called it nardus as at that time the best lavender came from a Syrian city by the name of Naarda. They imported the flower heads in quantity to be used to fragrance rooms and to be used in medicine. The Romans had a bit of apprehension when it came to lavender as they were convinced that a poisonous snake , the asp, liked to live amongst the lavender bushes. This didn’t stop them from buying the dried flowers once someone else risked their lives picking them out in the country side. They were one of the more expensive medicinal items at the market however. From its first record lavender was used for scent, the Libyans made a perfume of it and the Romans used it for bathing. Its scientific name, lavandula, comes from the Latin lavare, to wash. Lavender made its way to northern Europe well before the middle ages and was used both for medicine and scent.

As soon as lavender appears in the medical literature we see it in use for the brains and all its connecting parts and illnesses that affect them. Please note that in 1994, smelling salts, used to rouse a person having fainted, are made of the essential oil of lavender blossoms. The smell jolts the nerves and brings the person around. The medicinal actions are not confined to rousing the dead but it does hint of its powers.

Let’s see what Gerard had to say about lavender. Please notice that it was used to treat headaches, light megrims as he put it, and a lot of other head problems, the most serious being the swimming of the brains. “The distilled water of lavender smelt unto, or the temples and forehand bathed, therewith is refreshing to them that have the catlapsie, a light migram, and to, the them that have the falling sickness, and for them that swoune to muche.

It doth helpe the panting and passion of the heart, prevaileth against giddiness, turning, or swimming of the briane, and members subject to palsey. Conserve made of the flowers with sugar, profiteth much against the diseases aforesaid, if the quantitie of a beane be taken therof in the morning fasting.” Gerards notion of making a conserve out of lavender flowers to be used when headache set it was not an original thought, rather a long held European tradition. Marmalade for the head in distress! Parkinson, an herbalist that came after gerard adds this to the picture, “Lavender is almost wholly spent with us, for to parfume linnen, apparel, gloves, and leather and the dryed flowers to comfort and dry up the moisture of a cold braine . Lavender is of special good use for all griefes and pains of the head and braine.”

Maude Grieve put together one of the best encyclopedias of herbal medicine ever assembled in the 1930′s. The book lists how medicinal plants are to be grown, harvested, and manufactured into medicine. The details are excellent and if you are interested in learning more about herbalism her two part book is a great place to start. Miss grieve went on and on about lavender, here is a sample of her chatting about the plant.

“‘ The essential oil or a spirit of lavender made from it, proves admirably restorative and tonic against faintness, palpitations of a nervous sort, weak giddiness, spasms, and colic. It is agreeable in taste and smell, provokes appetite, raises the spirits and dispels flatulence…outwordly applied it relieves tooth ache, neuralgia, sprains, and rheumatism. In hysteria , palsy, and similar disorders of debility and lack of nerve power, lavender will act as a powerful stimulant…..In some cases of mental depression and delusions , oil of lavender proves a real service, and a few drops rubbed on the temple will cure nervous headache….A tea brewed from lavender tops , made in moderate strength, is excellent to relieve headache from fatigue and exhaustion. ” I would say that just about covers it all, when it comes to problems from the neck up the plant of choice seems to be lavender. I think the line “raises the spirits and dispels flatulence (gas)” is an interesting coupling of medicinal actions, I’m not sure they are related.

Every country has its own official book of remedies, in the United States its called the USPharmocopia and in Britain its called the British national pharmacopeia. Today they are books filled with drugs produced by drug manufacturers, in the past they were filled with lists of medicinal plants. In the BNP the following was written about lavender, ” Against the falling sickness and all cold distempers of the head, womb, stomach, and nerves; against apoplexy, palsy, convulsions, megrim, vertigo, loss of memory, dimness of sight, melancholy, swooning fits.” Its amazing that a plant so famous for its ability to treat headaches and nervous disorders should have ever gotten forgotten. Mr.Bayer and his descendants are quite rich by now and poor lavender has been relegated to the underpanty drawer. Not for long, next time a headache strikes pull the satchet from the panty drawer and drop it in the teapot.

Two teaspoons dried flowers+ added to one cup boiling water+ take off the stove+ let stand ten minutes+ strain+ drink. You can have as many cups as many cups as it takes for the headache to go away.

Getting your supply:
1. Purchase the dried flower heads from the health food store or herb seller.
2. Grow you own. Lavender quite easy to grow and a real asset to the garden. When you contemplate growing some lavender know this, it isnt very forgiving when it comes to getting wet feet. This is the fastest way to kill your new lavender plant and when selecting a site for a lavender plant make certain it is dry and gets atleast half a day of sun. Being a very common plant, young plants can be had at just about every garden center. The best time to plant is either in the fall or in the spring, this gives the plant maximum rooting time before the summer sets in. A handful of manure added to the soil will make the lavender plant quite happy and help it to produce an abundance of flowers. The flowers are picked at the height of flowering and dried in the shade in a warm location. In that we use the flowers for their volatile oil you dont want to dry at a high temperature, no more than 75 degrees, or the oil will evaporate!

Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.