Lavender is a name generally applied to a group of small woody plants, grown as herbs and for ornament. The commonest forms are given the botanic name of Lavandula angustifolia (formerly L. officinalis). A wide range of cultivated forms can be found. The plant is much grown in gardens. Flower spikes are used for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourris. Dried and sealed in pouches, they are placed among stored items of clothing to give a fresh fragrance and as a deterrent to moths. The plant is also grown commercially for extraction of lavender oil from the flowers. This oil is used as an antiseptic and for aromatherapy.
Lavender is stimulating and carminative. Its aromatic properties make it useful in pharmacy to add to lotions and creams. This herb has been used extensively in perfumes, soaps, and sachets. Lavender water, made from the essential oil, is used in therapeutic baths to reduce nervous excitement. The oil has a sedative action on the heart and will lower blood pressure. A small amount added to bland oils makes a useful application in skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis, and a rub for rheumatic conditions.
The primary chemical constituents of Lavender include essential oil (linalol, eucalyptol, geraniol, limonene, cineole), tannins, coumarins, flavonoids, and triterpenoids. The herb exhibits activity against diphtheria, typhoid, pneumonia, staph, strep and many flu viruses. Lavender is also useful as an antibacterial agent. Known topical uses include acne, burns, cellulite, cold sores, eczema, edema, fatigue, halitosis, headache, infection, insect bites, insect repellent, insect stings, irritability, joint pain, lice, muscle soreness, rheumatism, scabies, scars, snakebites, toothache, vertigo, and yeast infections. Place a drop of Lavender essential oil on the edge of the mattress of a teething baby to calm him/her down. Use Lavender as a rinse for fragrant hair, and use it in massage oil, and as a salve for eczema. The common name Lavender also includes Lavendula viridis, Lavendula vera, Lavendula officinalis, as well as other Lavendula species, which are used interchangeably with Lavendula angustifolia.