History of Lavender Lavandula


Lavandula, or Lavender, is a powerfully aromatic shrub that is part of the Lavandula angustifolia subspecies Angustifolia, or the subspecies Pyrenaica, commonly referred to as the mint family. It's most widely cultivated species is Lavandula angustifolia, curiously known as English Lavender, although the species is not native to England. The plant is also known as garden lavender. Lavender is one of the most widely used of the essential oils. The lavender plant is best known for its multiple uses, its pleasant floral fragrance, and its visual beauty.

Lavender shrubs grow as high as 6.6 feet tall. Its evergreen leaves are generally from 0.79 to 2.36 inches long, and up to .24 inches broad. The flowers of the lavender plant are a pinkish-purple color that is named after the plant. The flowers are produced on spikes that are approximately 3.15 inches long at the top of slender stems that do not have leaves.

While best known as an ornamental plant, this hearty shrub is used as a herbal medicine, either in the form of herbal tea or as lavender oil. Its flowers are sometimes used as a culinary herb that is included in the French blend, herbes de Provence. 

Lavender Oil History

Lavender was first used for medicinal purposes in India, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, some 2500 years ago. It was referred to as “nardus” or “nard” by the ancient Greeks, after the city of Naarda in Syria. The plant was revered as a holy herb, and was used in holy essences, referred to as “spikenard,” in the Bible, and is believed by Biblical scholars to have been used on the infant Jesus, and as an anointment after the crucifixion in preparation for his burial.

Decorative urns containing lavender residues were found in Egyptian tombs, where the herb was used in the Egyptians mummification process.

During the Renaissance, lavender was used during the Plague to protect people against infections. Lice carried the disease on rats, and lavender was used for its effective insect repellent properties.

It was also used during the Victorian Era, when Queen Victoria appointed Sarah Sprules, as its official purveyor. Furniture and floors were washed in lavender, and the linens were perfumed with its scent. Its popularity quickly spread among wealthy English women who would scent themselves and their homes with the sweet scent. As its demand grew, it began to be cultivated through commercial farms to help maintain its supplies.

The lavender used today was rediscovered by one of the founders of aromatherapy, who had burned himself, and plunged his arm into the lavender essential oil. He noted that the wound quickly healed, did not become infected, and did not scar. Lavender was also used during WWI, as an antibacterial dressing for wounds when soldiers would present with injuries.

The word Lavender comes from the Latin “lavare,” which means “to wash”. Today, its largest producer is Provence, France. It is also commercially grown in the United States, Canada, Bulgaria, Australia, Japan, Spain, Russia, and in the Netherlands. It is generally distilled using the steam method of distillation.

What is steam distillation?

Extracting essential oils by steam distillation takes place three different ways:

  • Straight steam
  • Water distillation
  • Steam/water distillation

Lavender is distilled using the straight steam method. This method involves forcing steam through the plant material, then collecting the essential oil. The steam is used to rupture the membranes in the plant, which releases the oil. The oil travels to a condenser where the lighter essential oil separates and floats to the top. The water is removed from the mixture and used as a hydrosol or floral water. The oil becomes essential oil.

Uses for Lavender Essential Oil:

A few drops of lavender oil can be added to virtually any recipe to enhance the flavor of the food. People add it to lemonade or tea, to cookies and other desserts, to salad dressings and to many other foods to impart a rich, herbal overtone that boosts the natural flavors of the ingredients. 

In addition to being used as a culinary addition, Lavender essential oil can be used to enhance beauty products, such as shampoos, hair rinses, body scrubs, massage oils and beauty creams. It can be used as a natural deodorant, insect repellent, and as an antibacterial cleanser. Lavender also has many different therapeutic uses. The oil can be ingested internally in capsules, diffused or rubbed onto the body, as needed.

It can be used therapeutically for the following purposes:

  • Pain relief
  • Mental clarity
  • Arrythia
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bruises
  • Burns
  • Diaper rash
  • Ear infection
  • Gardia
  • Heat Stroke
  • Insomnia
  • Itching
  • Measles
  • Poison ivy
  • Rash
  • Skin allergies
  • Sunburn
  • Anti-fungal agent
  • Calming agent
  • Sleep aid
  • Pain relief
  • Promotion of respiratory health
  • Improvement of digestion
  • Insect bites
  • Cold sore
  • Dandruff
  • Hay fever
  • Chapped lips
  • Dry skin
  • Nosebleed
  • Motion Sickness
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Minor cuts and scrapes
  • Minor burns
  • Bee stings

A 2009 study published in the Journal of Peri-anesthesia Nursing found that lavender essential oil could effectively reduce preoperative anxiety as a simple, low risk, cost-effective intervention with the potential to improve preoperative outcomes, and increase patient satisfaction.

Another study, published in Perspectives in Public Health, found that lavender essential oil helped patients who suffered from stress-related disorders and that it encouraged the healing process by causing the patients to relax, thus, relieving the stress.

The study stated that essential oils, in general, have an effect on brainwaves and can also alter behavior. The effects of the oils are most likely transmitted through the brain through the olfactory system.

Betts, Fox, Rooth, and MacCallum (1995) found that lavender oil was effective in treating Epileptic seizures.

Buckles (1993) published evidence that lavender essential oil works to calm pregnant women in childbirth. An article in Modern Midwife (1995) noted lavender essential oil's effectiveness in perineal repair after childbirth.

How to Use Lavender Essential Oil


  • Affects niid
  • Cleanses the air
  • Opens airways


  • Quickly absorbs through the skin
  • Full body benefit
  • Immune support
  • Immediate comfort

Apply a few drops directly on the skin and rub in.


  • Benefits mouth and throat
  • Supports digestive system
  • Supports immunity

Place 1 to 2 drops under the tongue, or mix in a glass of water and drink, or place a drop in an empty capsule and swallow.

PLEASE remember to check if the brand and type of essential oil you have can be used internally before using it.

Lavender allergic reactions and precautions:

According to the National Institutes of Health online medical encyclopedia Medline Plus, the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction to lavender include a skin rash, headache, burning sensations in the throat or eyes, blurred vision, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and chills. Should any of these symptoms present themselves, one should seek immediate medical assistance. 

Resource links

World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew".

"Lavandula angustifolia". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 28 July 2017.

The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients
R Braden, S Reichow, MA Halm - Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 2009 

Essential oils and 'aromatherapy': their modern role in healing 
M. Lis-Balchin
First Published October 1, 1997 

Betts T., Fox C., Rooth K. and MacCallum R. (1995). An olfactory countermeasure treatment for Epileptic seizures using a conditioned arousal response to specific aromatherapy oils. Epilepsia; 36(suppl 3), S130

Buckle J. (1993). Does it matter which lavender oil is used? Nurs Times; 89(20), 32-35 Burns E. and Blamey C. (1994). Using aromatherapy in childbirth. Nurs Times; 90, 54-58 Google Scholar

Cornwell S. and Dale A. (1995). Lavender oil and perineal repair. Modern Midwife; 5, 31-33

Essential Oil Usage Guide -A-Z – Doterra Inc.

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