Lavandula x intermedia - family Labiatae (Lamiaceae)
ORIGIN OF THE NAME
The word lavender originates from the Latin word lavare, which means “to wash”. The Romans used lavender to scent their bathing water. In the Middle Ages, it was frequently used for stomach disorders in medicine and cooking.
Lavendin (lavandula x intermedia hybridii) is a cross between true lavender (Lavandula augstifolia) and spike lavender (Lavandula spica). This hybrid occurs naturally through cross pollination by bees and other insects at a height between 500 and 800 metres. As the seeds produced by lavendin are sterile, cuttings from a mother plant need to be taken for large scale production and by 1930 this became standard practice. The cloned plants all flower at the same time and produce a uniform aroma and flower size flower making harvesting simpler. Lavendin produces 5-6 times the volume of true lavender making it more affordable for the food and flavouring industry.
Lavendin is a hardier than true lavender and grows at a lower altitude (ie less than 600 metres). Varieties include „Abrial?, „Grosso?, „Reydovan? and „Super?. Abrial is high in linalool but is no longer produced due to disease. Grosso accounts for 90% of French production but has a lower ester content. Reydovan, too, has a lower ester content, while Super contains the highest proportion of linalyl acetate.
It is native to the South of France and also grows in Spain, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia and Argentina. It is a hardy fragrant shrub, growing to a height of one metre, with narrow, lanceolate leaves and pale bluish-mauve flowers in terminal spikes, borne on slender stalks. Lavendin is a larger plant than true lavender, with more woody stems. The flowering tops are distilled to create the essential oil with a yield of approximately 1%. Being a hybrid, lavendin itself is infertile and has to be propagated by cuttings for large scale cultivation.
The scent is fresh and herbaceous with soft floral yet bittersweet notes. It is more camphoraceous than true lavender, but less harsh than spike lavender. When used in perfumery it comprises chiefly middle notes, sometimes top notes.
How do you tell the difference between the lavenders? The true lavender plant has small delicate flowerheads and there are no side shoots from its stems. It has the most subtle and sweet fragrance and is found at heights above 600 m. In contrast, lavendin and spike lavender are larger and have side stems. They are both more camphoraceus and grow at lower altitude.
The main chemical constituents are:
- Monoterpenic alcohols, including linalool (35%) borneol (2.9%)
- Esters, including linalyl acetate (27%) lavandulyl acetate (1%)
- Ketones, including camphor (8.9%)
- Oxides, including 1,8-cineole(7.6%)
- Monoterpenes, including cis- and trans-ocimene (5.6%) and limonene(0.7%) Sesquiterpenes, coumarins and numerous trace compounds
The medicinal properties are:
Lavendin is more medicinal than true lavender, with less of the camphoraceous scent of spike lavender. Lavendin is almost twice as effective as true lavender in alleviating anxiety. It has a calming effect on the cerebro-spinal activity so can be used for depression, stress, insomnia, hysteria, shock. The analgesic properties make it useful for headaches, neuralgia, vertigo, and sciatica. Small quantities are calming for the heart and blood pressure, whereas larger quantities have the opposite effect. Being an immune stimulant, bactericidal and antispasmodic, it can be used for throat infections, asthma, coughs, colds and flu, bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonia. It helps with menstrual cramps, muscular aches and cystitis. It is has many properties that make it ideal for the skin, from acne and allergies, to fungal infections, athletes foot and as a first aid for bruises, bites, sunburn and burns.
Naturopath and Kineseologist, Robbi Zeck, recommends lavender for self nurturing and self nourishment where one has been worn down looking after the needs of everybody else except oneself. She says it nourishes and nurtures the heart and emotions.
Lavendin offers many psychological benefits for those suffering from nervous tension, nervous debility, anxiety and depression, making it an ideal oil to use during the darker winter months when many people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
It is also useful for those who find it difficult to express themselves and need to release pent up energy, so easing frustration, irritability and moodiness. Herbalist Peter Holmes describes lavender as “both habit-breaker and crisis smoother” – and with the approaching year end festivities and New Year resolutions what better oil to use!
Due to its camphor content, lavendin is contra indicated for anyone under 2 years of age, those with epilepsy or fever, pregnant or breast feeding an infant under two years.
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE:
The camphor content makes lavendin an ideal inhalant for respiratory infections, and in a cream for muscular aches and pains. As an ingredient in bath oils it would provide some self care nurturing and as an aid to restful sleep. It could be great in a massage blend for helping clients break unhelpful habits and start the new year afresh. Or what about in a hand cream as a Christmas crisis smoother? Whether used regularly on an emotional or medical level, or simply kept in your first aid kit, lavendin has a large repertoire of uses.
- Natural Healing for Women by Susan Curtis and Romy Fraser
- The Blossoming Heart by Robbi Zeck
- The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia
- Course notes from ITHMA Diploma