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Definition: lavender from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Sweet-smelling purple-flowering herb belonging to the mint family, native to western Mediterranean countries. The bushy low-growing species L. angustifolia has long, narrow, upright leaves of a silver-green colour. The small flowers, borne on spikes, vary in colour from lilac to deep purple and are covered with small fragrant oil glands. Lavender oil is widely used in pharmacy and perfumes. (Genus Lavandula, family Labiatae.)



lavender cultivation

Summary Article: LAVENDER
from Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Plants, and Venomous Animals

(Lavandula Species)


In ancient Greece and Rome, lavender was an antiseptic and a fragrance for baths and cleansing agents. The ancient Egyptians used linen soaked in asphalt and oil of lavender to wrap mummies before drying the casts in the sun.1


For cosmetic and medicinal purposes, the most common variety is L. angustifolia. Other species of lavender include Lavandula burmanni Benth., L. dentata L., L. dhofarensis A.G. Miller, L. lanata Boiss., L. latifolia Medikus (broadleafed lavender), Lavandula X intermedia Emeric ex Lois. (lavandin), and L. stoechas L. (French lavender). Lavandin is a sterile hybrid of English lavender (L. angustifolia) and broadleafed lavender (L. latifolia). Currently, the two most common cultivars in the French lavender industry are Grosso and Super.

  • Common Name: English Lavender

  • Scientific Name: Lavandula angustifolia P. Miller (L. officinalis, L. vera)

  • Botanical Family: Lamiaceae (menthes, mints)

  • Physical Description: English lavender is an evergreen plant with a round, compact shape and opposite leaves that reach 2 in. (5 cm) in length. Small, fragrant, purple flowers appear in summer as interrupted spikes.

  • Distribution and Ecology: Although lavender (Lavandula spp.) is a native plant of the Mediterranean region, the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, and Russia, this plant is cultivated throughout the warm areas of the northern hemisphere.

  • 1. Basch, E, Foppa, I, Liebowitz, R, Nelson, J, Smith, M, Sollars, D, Ulbricht, C. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Miller). J Herb Pharmacother 2004; 4: 63-78.
  • 2. Field, T, Diego, M, Hernandez-Reif, M, Cisneros, W, Feijo, L, Vera, Y, Gil, K. Lavender fragrance cleansing gel effects on relaxation. Int J Neurosci 2005; 115: 207-222.
  • 3. Lehrner, J, Marwinski, G, Lehr, S, Johren, P, Deecke, L. Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiol Behav 2005; 86: 92-95.
  • 4. Lewith, GT, Godfrey, AD, Prescott, P. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula angustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. J Altern Complement Med 2005; 11: 631-637.
  • 5. Takarada, K, Kimizuka, R, Takahashi, N, Honma, K, Okuda, K, Kato, T. A comparison of the antibacterial efficacies of essential oils against oral pathogens. Oral Microbiol Immunol 2004; 19: 61-64.
  • 6. Akhondadeh, S, Kiashani, L, Fotouhi, A, Jarvandi, S, Mobaseri, M, Moin, M, et al. Comparison of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. tincture and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized trial. Prog Neuro-Psychopharmacol Psychiatr 2003;27: 123-127.
  • 7. Hay, IC, Jamieson, M, Ormerod, AD. Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata. Arch Dermatol 1998; 134: 1349-1352.
  • 8. Ripple, GH, Gould, MN, Arzoomanian, RZ, Alberti, D, Feierabend, C, Simon, K, et al. Phase I clinical and pharmacokinetic study of perillyl alcohol administered four times a day. Clin Cancer Res 2000; 6: 390-396.
  • 9. Buchbauer, G, Jirovetz, L, Jager, W, Dietrich, H, Plank, C. Aromatherapy: evidence for sedative effects of the essential oil of lavender after inhalation. Z Naturforsch [C] 1991; 46: 1067-1072.
  • 10. Ripple, GH, Gould, MN, Stewart, JA, Tutsch, KD, Arzoomanian, RZ, Alberti, D, et al. Phase I clinical trial of perillyl alcohol administered daily. Clin Cancer Res 1998; 4: 1159-1164.
  • 11. Flores, G, Blanch, GP, Ruiz del Castillo, ML, Herraiz, M. Enantiomeric composition of studies in Lavandula species using supercritical fluids. J Sep Sci 2005; 28: 2333-2338.
  • 12. Shellie, R, Mondello, L, Marriott, P, Dugo, G. Characterisation of lavender essential oils by using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry with correlation of linear retention indices and comparison with comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography. J Chromatogr A 2002; 970: 225-234.
  • 13. Sanz, J, Soria, AC, Garcia-Vallejo, MC. Analysis of volatile components of Lavandula luisieri L. by direct thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 2004; 1024: 139-146.
  • 14. Kim, N-S, Lee, D-S. Comparison of different extraction methods for the analysis of fragrances from Lavandula species by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 2002; 982: 31-47.
  • 15. Goren, AC, Topcu, G, Bilsel, G, Bilsel, M, Aydogmus, Z, Pezzuto, JM. The chemical constituents and biological activity of essential oil of Lavandula stoechas spp. stoechas. Z Naturforsch [C] 2002; 57: 797-800.
  • 16. Cavanagh, HM, Wilkinson, JM. Biological activities of lavender essential oil. Phytother Res 2002; 16: 301-308.
  • 17. Clegg, RJ, Middleton, B, Bell, GD, White, DA. The mechanism of cyclic monoterpene inhibition of hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase in vivo in the rat. J Biol Chem 1982; 257: 2294-2299.
  • 18. Prashar, A, Locke, IC, Evans, CS. Cytotoxicity of lavender oil and its major components to human skin cells. Cell Prolif 2004; 37: 221-229.
  • 19. Lis-Balchin, M, Hart, S. Studies on the mode of action of the essential oil of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia P. Miller). Phytother Res 1999; 13: 540-542.
  • 20. Parke, DV, Quddusur Rahman, KM, Walker, R. The absorption, distribution and excretion of linalool in the rat. Biochem Soc Trans 1974; 2: 612-615.
  • 21. Zhang, Z, Chen, H, Chan, KK, Budd, T, Ganapathi, R. Gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric analysis of perillyl alcohol and metabolites in plasma. J Chromatogr B 1999; 728: 85-95.
  • 22. Coulson, IH, Ali Khan, AS. Facial "pillow" dermatitis due to lavender oil allergy. Contact Dermatitis 1999; 41: 111.
  • 23. Brandao, FM. Occupational allergy to lavender oil. Contact Dermatitis 1986; 15: 249-250.
  • 24. Schaller, M, Korting, HC. Allergic airborne contact dermatitis from essential oils used in aromatherapy. Clin Exp Dermatol 1995; 20: 143-145.
  • 25. Rademaker, M. Allergic contact dermatitis from lavender fragrance in Difflam¯ gel. Contact Dermatitis 1994; 31: 58-59.
  • 26. Varma, S, Blackford, S, Statham, BN, Blackwell, A. Combined contact allergy to tea tree oil and lavender Oil complicating chronic vulvovaginitis. Contact Dermatitis 2000; 42: 309-310.
  • 27. Fisher, AA. Patch testing with perfume ingredients. Contact Dermatitis 1975; 1: 166-168.
  • 28. Nakayama, H, Harada, R, Toda, M. Pigmented cosmetic dermatitis. Int J Dermatol 1976; 15: 673-675.
  • 29. Sugiura, M, Hayakawa, R, Kato, Y, Sugiura, K, Hashimoto, R. Results of patch testing with lavender oil in Japan. Contact Dermatitis 2000; 43: 157-160.
Copyright © 2008 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.

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