Since ancient times, Lavender Essential oils have been widely used for their medicinal properties for treating various diseases, ailments, disorders and discomforts. Today they are extensively used in Phytotherapy and Aromatherapy. Lavender essential oils have well known healing effects on the nervous system and contain anti microbial and possible anti cancer properties. It has a fragrance which creates a nice feeling, and thus can also be used as a mood tonic, antidepressant and psychological remedy, for treating injuries such as those created due to shock.
There are thirty two main species of Lavandula. Main producing countries are Canary Islands, Madeira, Mediterranean Basin, North Africa, South West Asia, Arabian Peninsula, and tropical NE Africa and India. They are rich in phenolic constituents and contain 19 flavones and 8 antocyanins.
Mood influencing effect and sedation
Essential oils of lavender have relaxing, anti convulsive, calming and stress relieving effects. However higher doses disturb the motor coordination and can have other negative effects as well. Tests have shown that lavender when used in aromatherapy has positive effect on mood. When tested it increased the B-power in EEG reports, indicating its impact by creating drowsiness. People also reported that they had less depressed mood and felt more relaxed, thereby confirming the anti depressing properties of lavender essential oils. Reports also showed that people who were subjected to Lavender essential oils during aromatherapy performed faster and more accurate mathematical computation. Inhaling essential oils of lavender help in relieving anxiety and create happiness in its users.
Lavender has positive effect on sleep improvement. The stress releasing and relaxing properties of lavender essential oils leave a sedative effect and the resulting sleep generates therapeutic activity. Many tests have been performed to test this ability of lavender. In a study tests were performed on acute ill elderly people and long term patients. Tests clearly showed positive trend towards sleep improvement.
Other therapeutic uses of Lavender Oil
Lavender has few antimicrobial properties. It is considered very effective against Enterococcus faecalis. Bacillus genus is also susceptible to lavender volatile oils. Lavender also possesses anti fungal properties. For paramedical purposes Lavandula angustifoliais is used for its carminative, spasmolytic, tonic and antidepressant properties. It is also used in cases of nervous headache, neuralgia, rheumatism, depression, insomnia, windy colic, fainting, toothache, sprains, sinusitis, stress and migraine.
Production of Lavender and Lavender oils
Depending on effects of winter, Lavandula angustifolia is sown in spring or autumn. Seeds can be sowed directly in the fields. However a more preferred method is to sow the seeds in nursery beds for a year. Thereafter plants are made from cuttings. Plants are planted in rows 1.5 meters apart. The average yield of L. angustifolia is 10,000 plants per hectare. Pests and diseases can reduce the life span of lavender from 15 – 20 years to 3 years.
Root rot due to Armillaria melleais a very serious fungal disease. Thomasiniana lavandulae(Diptera) is the most serious insect as its larvae feed under the bark, causing damage to the tops of branches. Other diseases are due to the fungus Rosellinia necatrix, the Homoptera Hyalesthes obsoletus, Cechenotettix martini, Eucarazza elegans; Coleoptera include Arima marginata, Chrysolina americana andMeligethes subfumatus; Lepidoptera include Sophronia humerella; Argyrotaenia pulchellana, Pyterophorus Spicidactyla and many others.
Production of Lavender Oils
More than 30 different types of lavender oils are sold in international market. L. angustifolia oil and a few lavandins are the most sold amongst these. Lavender essential oil is produced in various parts of the world, including UK, Australia and United State of America. A well known producer of lavender oils has been Mediterranean France lying on an altitude of six hundred to fifteen hundred meters. Other major lavender essential oil producing countries are Bulgaria, Spain and China.