Not all Lavender is the same
Lavender is the most used essential oil all over the world, it is gentle and versatile and smells lovely. It is part of the mint family (lamiaceae) and there are over 40 distinct species and over 400 cultivated varieties.
Amazingly - each species of Lavender has a different chemical profile and so can benefit us in separate ways. I thought this was fascinating and I wanted to share the main properties if the 3 most popular Lavenders.
True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) previously known as (Lavandular officinalis). This is often called English Lavender but to avoid confusion check for the latin name. It produces less oil than other lavender species and the smell is softer, sweeter and lighter.
Happiest grown at altitude, this flower produces an essential oils that has high concentrations of linalol and linalyl acetate, which give it it's calming and wound healing properties.
L. angustifolia essential oils can be used as analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anxiolytic, antispasmodic, carminative, cicatrisant, diuretic, emmenagogue, nervine, sedative, and uplifting. They are generally useful for any kind of skin ailment, nervous tension, anxiety, lack of restful sleep, aches, pains, and spasms,
Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula spica, Lavandula spicata) sometimes known as French lavender but again this can cause confusion so look for the latin name.
It has a much higher camphor content that varies based on where the plant was grown, sometimes reaching concentrations of up to 35%. It also contains higher amounts of 1,8-Cineole also called eucalyptol so, as you can imagine, the scent is sharper and more medicinal. It stimulates circulation and effectively gets stagnant energy moving through the body again and can help as a decongestant.
L. latifolia essential oil is analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, circulatory, and expectorant. It is sometimes used in skin care preparations and is often included in blends that support skin ailments, cramps and spasms and headaches. Because of the camphor content, it is recommended that this oil be avoided when pregnant.
Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia, Lavandula hybrida, Lavandula x burnati) This lavender is a cross pollination of Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia so has some of the benefits of both, however not enough to make it worth using in aromatherapy. It is grown mainly for the fragrance industry.
Lavandula x intermedia has three flower heads on every stalk to Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia 's one. This improves the yield and makes Lavandin much cheaper to produce. If you take Lavendin and add linalol or linalyl acetate (either obtained naturally or man-made) you get an oil which can be chemically similar enough to be called Lavender Oil - but it isn't and it doesn't have the benefits of Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula latifolia so always check the ingredients!
Here at Oh we use Lavandula angustifolia because it smells the best and has the most benefits.
Find out more at www.ohoils.co.uk