Welcome to Smallflower’s Ingredients Spotlight series! Here, we walk you through the benefits and characteristics of popular ingredients you’re probably seeing pop up in the products you shop for and use. Today our focus is on Lavender.
When you think of Lavender, do you picture beautiful purple fields in the south of France? Or does its peaceful, earthy scent wafting on a warm breeze come to mind? Lavender is a hardy bloom that flourishes in the late spring and summer, resistant to both droughts and pesky critters like deer and rabbits.
The most common species of lavender is Lavandula angustifolia, also known as English Lavender. Despite the name, this species is native to the Mediterranean and came by the moniker because it grows the best in the temperate English climate. The plant has been known and cultivated in Europe since Roman times. It’s mostly grown commercially for the essential oils used in fragrance, but also has culinary and medicinal applications.
There’s some debate as to where the name “lavender” came from. Some believe that it takes inspiration from the Latin “lavare” meaning to wash, since the plant has traditionally been used to fragrance laundry products. Others think that it comes from the Latin word “livere” meaning “bluish,” a nod to the bright hue of the flowers.
Benefits of Lavender
Some preliminary evidence has suggested that lavender may be beneficial in fighting fungal infection. One study using the essential oil of Portuguese Lavandula viridis showed that it could prevent the growth and even kill some pathogenic fungi.
Whether used in a bath, massage, or dropped in a diffuser, essential oil of lavender is one of the most popular used in aromatherapy. It’s said to assist with calming and soothing a worrying or stressed mind. It is also commonly used to treat sore or tired muscles.
Some studies have drawn a link between lavender extracts and soothing symptoms of anxiety disorders and related conditions. Some participants even found that the results were comparable to well-known anti-anxiety medication.