Monday, January 2, 2012
Essential oils: Lavender - an overview
There are a few different lavenders you'll see out there. English or French lavender (Lavender angustifolia) has the most lavender-y type smell you'll find, with an emphasis on the flowery scent. Regular old lavender (Lavandula officianalis) generally smells a little more camphory. Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) has more of the camphor and 1,8-cineole. (I find it has a mustier, less floral scent than the English lavender). You might find lavender as an essential oil or as a hydrosol, and the essential oil is generally steam distilled.
Camden Grey). You might see it listed as Lavandula officianalis and its origin as France. I've seen write-ups at suppliers stating that this type of lavender essential oil has the lowest level of therapeutic abilities, but that's for us to investigate over the next few days!
The main compounds we find in lavender are linalool at 29% or so (a monoterpene alcohol that is responsible for a lot of the fragrance), linalyl acetate at 33% (a terpene ester responsible for a lot of the fragrance also). We find a lot of camphor (up to 13%) and eucalyptol or 1,8-cineole (up to 26%) in in Lavandula latifolia or Spike lavender.
What are the claims about lavender? It is purported to be an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, insect repellant and bite soother, anxiolytic (meaning it can treat anxiety), sleep aid, acne treatment at 1:10 with water, pain reliever, urine flow increaser, and respiratory disorder treatment. That's an awful lot of stuff to investigate, but here goes! But wait - we need to take a look at linalool and linalyl acetate as well as a little chemistry with isomers! Join me tomorrow for more on lavender!