Love of Lavender
Posted by VALERIE OLIVER-FORDE on
L is for Lavender
L is for Love.
Lavender and Love go together.
Lavender is one of those things I just cannot do without. Ever since I discovered the “all beneficial” nature of Lavender Essential Oil, I’ve kept a bottle or two around. I even take a small amount with me when I travel to faraway lands on vacation or business. You never know when you would need to resort to your heal-all essential oil friend. It’s easy to fall in love with Lavender Oil and its so rewarding because you know it will never let you down.
Lavender has been used as a medicine and aromatic since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. In ancient Rome it is estimated that a pound of top grade flowers could be the bought for the monthly wage of a regular worker. Talk about competition…shall I eat or shall I smell great? It is no wonder why these flowers were planted everywhere and its essence reserved for the rich and famous.
These days you don’t have to be rich nor famous to use Lavender Oil as it is a luxury you can afford. In fact we are now re-discovering that this luxury essential oil has potent medicinal properties which include: anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, wound healing, antiseptic, acne treatment, anti-depressant, relaxing and anti-aging. Lavender Essential Oil certainly packs a powerful punch
Where does it come from?
Well, when I got introduced to lavender it was by an organic farmer, now friend, Alexander whose company cultivates thousands of acres of lavender, rose and peppermint farms in Bulgaria. Purple and blue go as far as the eye could see. You could easily get overwhelmed in the moment of Lavender. The colour evokes peace, calm and serenity. The scent keeps you focused and at one with yourself. Of course, as you dig deeper you get to know the fine print.
Hands down and without reservation I believe in Organic Bulgarian Lavender. It is 100% natural and its mere presence invokes beauty. My distiller friend, like many of his comrades, grows Lavandula Angustifolia (vera). This can be regarded as the King of Lavenders but that depends on where and how it is grown. The true Bulgarian type has a beautiful rounded aroma that is fruity (pineapple, plum), floral (rose) with woody undertones and camphor overtones. It is definitely more mellow and pleasant that any of the other types.
Bulgarian Lavender Fields
Lavandula Angustifolia is also grown elsewhere. Notably Hungary, Russia, USA (Oregon region), India and France cultivate this flower and distill vast amounts of the essential oil. France is the top producer but normally buys Bulgarian Lavender in order to blend with local production. In this way the quality (chemical composition) from batch to batch is maintained.
The French also produce a Lavender Oil called Population Lavender, which is the same species of plant but grown at high altitude. When it is called “Fine Population Lavender” this refers to the top grade oil which actually has faint citrus notes with a much sweeter and woodsy fresh aroma.
We can’t forget to talk about a major contender, normally only available to the market in very small amounts…Kashmir Lavender. Though this version of Lavender is too expensive for daily use personal care products it is often used in high end perfumes and high end aromatherapy (think luxury spa) treatments. Beautiful as it is, this type of lavender grows in lower regions of the Himalaya and is always ethically harvested by village farmers. It is usually distilled in small copper stills by methods of the good old days or artisan essential oil distillers.
There is also a kind of French Lavender known as “Maillette Lavender” most often used in perfumery because of its less pungent aroma. This one is easy to spot due to its distinctly sweeter and powdery aroma. Though it is not as complex as the Bulgarian Lavender it does hold its own in the contest for the best Lavender Oil.
There are also two other types of lavender which are produced in smaller amounts called Lavender Spike (Lavandula Latifolia) commonly grown in Spain, and Lavandula Stoechas which is not for general used by non-aromatherapy professionals.
What is it good for?
Lavender Oil has been used in many excellent studies. In general Lavender Oil is safe for use and many believe in its potency for:
Relaxation – the oil has been shown to promote relaxed feelings, reduce tension and induce better sleep. The “high altitude” lavenders are best suited for this purpose such as Population Lavender, Fine Population Lavender and Kashmir Lavender. Use it in an oil burner or mix with a carrier oil and massage yourself to get into a more relaxed state.
Skin healing – Lavender Oil is an excellent wound healer and prevents scars in the case of scrapes and burns. I myself successfully used this oil (organic Bulgarian version) after a kitchen accident during my graduate student years. In two weeks the burn on my face healed up really well and no one will even dare to think I had a huge hot oil burn on my cheeks. I always recommend the organic Bulgarian Lavender Oil for this purpose.
Acne treatment – as a power anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-septic Lavender oil really helps people with acne prone skin. Most types of pure lavender oil will do the job here
Anti-aging - almost every company that sells all-natural anti-aging facial oils put a good helping of Lavender Oil into the product. The fact is that Lavender helps to heal the skin and restore youthfulness without the synthetic proteins and complex chemicals so often found in high end anti-aging treatments. It works well with Carrot Seed Oil, Frankincense Oil, Helichrysum Oil, Patchouli Oil, Rose Oil in this regard. Try this blend in some extra virgin coconut oil with a tid bit of Sea Buckthorn oil for turning back the signs of aging.
Muscle pains – Many people use Lavender Oil, especially when mixed with Rosemary Oil, for relief of aching muscles. Its use in this regard had been scientifically tested and holds true.
Be consumer smart
With this many great uses you are probably wondering why more people don’t use Lavender Oil as part of the homemade remedies?
One issue is getting the real stuff. We can tell you that most of the Lavender Oil on the market is either a natural blend (commonly referred to as French Lavender Natural or 40/42) or mixture of pure lavender oil with synthetics. It is one of the most adulterated oils on the market today. These types of oils don’t have great therapeutic benefits and are really only for perfumery purposes.
Pricing should be your guide. For example, regular Bulgarian Lavender Oil will wholesale between $120-150 USD per kg. The high grade organic variety will go around $180-$220 USD per kg. Add shipping , bottle cost, label cost etc. and you could easily see the price cannot be less than $5.00 per 10ml bottle (at cost) for the regular version.
Lavandin – these oils are not the true lavender and are generally used for perfumery. They can, if pure, be used for aromatherapy but are much less studied. You know Lavandin by the higher amount of camphor in the aroma and somewhat more pungent or herbal aroma. Often the Lavender Oil you buy is actually blended with Lavandin to “stretch” the oil.
The great news
We use pure Bulgarian and French Lavender oil in many of our products. We know the sources of our essential oils and we trust them. What’s more is that we put a functional amount of the Lavender Oil into our products which means they can do the job we say they will do.
Soon we will offer Organic Bulgarian Lavender Oil on our website, along with some very special essential oils. Stay tuned!