Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender)


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Lavender has been appreciated by many people for its aromatic scent produced by its blue violet flowers. Lavender flowers have been used to make soaps, shampoo, aromatheraphy oil, teas, lotions, extracts, and in clothing. The use of Lavender has a herb can be tracted back over 2,500 years ago. In ancient Eqypt, Lavender was used for mummification and in perfumes. Lavender's name comes from the Latin root "lavare" which means "to wash". The Greeks and Romans bathed in lavender scent water. Many people have begun to use Lavandula angustifolia as a herbal remedy for different reasons, such as Insomnia, Alopecia areata (hair loss), and as a pain reliever. This flower creates an essential oil that is used to treat some of these ailments (Ehrlich, 2011).

Lavender--Check this video out, closer look at the different shades of Lavender and the uses of Lavdender.





The petals are a shade of blue violet that consist of 5 united petals. The plant is designed in spirals of 6-10 blossoms (Ehrlich, 2011).http://everything-lavender.com/english-lavender.html
The petals are a shade of blue violet that consist of 5 united petals. The plant is designed in spirals of 6-10 blossoms (Ehrlich, 2011).http://everything-lavender.com/english-lavender.html


Part of the seed beginning to blossom into a beautiful Lavandula angustifolia.
Part of the seed beginning to blossom into a beautiful Lavandula angustifolia.

















Where do these plants grow?
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The Lavandula angustifolia is native to mountainous zones of the Mediterranean. This plant first orginated from there because of its sunny and stony habitats. Today, the Lavandula angustifolia grows in the United States, France, England, New Zealand, and Australia. In the United States it is grown in Colorado, Washington state, New Mexico, Texas, and many other states.The Lavender plant is a short shrub that grows to about 2 feet tall with many branches
(Ehrlich, 2011).

Relatives of Lavandula augustifolia and traits they share

There are 39 different species of the Lavender plant. As this seems like a lot, the many species of the plant is because it cross pollinates with other memebers of the Lavender species. This creates many new and slightly different Lavender plants. Lavandula angustifolia is a memeber of the Lamiaceae family(mint family). This family is made up of different culinary herbs which are fragrant and aromatic. Some of its specfic relatives are Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula hybrida, Callicarpa memebers (beautyberry), Agastache memebers (hyssop), Salvia memebers (sage), and many more (Elpel, 2011).

Common Family Traits:
- 5 united petals
- 5 united sepals
- square shape stems
- bilateral symmetry
- grow in long clusters
- lipped flowers
- aromatic
- self healing
- each leaf appearing opposite at right angels from the next in pair along the stem
http://everything-lavender.com/english-lavender.html
http://everything-lavender.com/english-lavender.html

(Elpel, 2011)

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Patterns of the Mint Family

Active Components

In Lavender, there are three components that work together to make it efficent medicinally. The first component is alcohllol, lavender oil contains 50% alcohol linalol. The alcohol present in the oil is used to heal burns, wounds, and sores. The second component is ketones which are componds that help relieve pain and inflammation. This component plays a big role in lavender's ability to subdue pain after surgery. Ketones also have the ability to relax people and bring on sleep. The third and last component is esters. Esters are compounds that aid in swelling and soreness. All of these compounds help lavender oil to be an effective medicinal herb (Whimpey, 2009).

Uses of Lavender
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Most commonly, Lavender is used as an essential oil. The oil is taken from the small blue violet flowers which give the herb this scent.The esential oil is most often used in aromatheraphy, where the scent of the essential oil from the flowers is inhaled. This essential oil can also be applied to the skin, but it must be diluted with other essential oil(s) before applied. Although there is not a lot of scientific evidence to prove the effects of Lavender as an essential oil, but small studies have been done which show positive effects of Lavender. In these small studies, Lavender was used to help treat achne, insomnia or agitation, Alopecia areata (hair loss), and as a pain reliever (Ehrlich, 2011) (National Institues of Health, 2011).

Insomnia or agitation

Surprisingly, in Folklore, pillows were filled with Lavernder flowers to help people fall asleep. This means that the idea of using Lavender to help relax and help people sleep has been known for a long time. Scientists have gathered evidence that suggests aromatheraphy with Lavender may slow down the activit of the nervous system, improve sleep quailty, and promote relaxation in humans. A recent study was conducted where people recieved a massage. Some people recieved a massage using Lavender essential oil while others recieved an ordinary massage. The people who recieved the massage with the lavender essential oil said to have felt less anxious and positive than those who received massages alone (Ehrlich, 2011).

Alopecia areata (hair loss)

A recent study has shown the positive affects of using Lavender as an essential oil to treat alopecia areata (hair loss). Recently, a study was conducted using 86 people with an auto immune disease that cause hairloss (often in patches). Half of the particpants were given a mixture of Lavender and essential oils, and told to massage their scalp daily for 7 months. The other half of participants were given essential oils to massage their scalp with. After 7 months, the participants who used a mixtures of Lavender and essentital oils had significant hair regrowth compared to the participants who massages their hair with essential oils. Of all the participants, 44% of them reported significant hair regrowth after the 7 months. This study is a great stepping stone to finding additional cures or products for hairloss. The negative of this study is that there is no way to tell if it was one or the combination of oils that was effective in the hair regrowth (Ehrlich, 2011) (Kahn, 2011).

Pain Reliever

Lavender has been used to treat headaches, healing joint and muscle pain, and after surgeries. After a recent study, Lavender oils may improve pain induced by surgery. In this study, 50 patients were undergoing breast biospy surgery. The patients either recieved oxygen supplemented with lavender or oxygen alone. The patients who were treated with lavender oxygen described better pain control than patients in the control group (just oxygen).
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Possible Side Effects
Many people have used Lavender with no reported side effects. But as any herb/oil there are possible side effects of using Lavender oils. Although there are side effects, each person is different, therefore Lavender oils could react very differently person to person. When using Lavender, it is important to remember to avoid contact with eyes, lips, and nostrils. As always, it is important to contact a doctor in botanical medicine before you chose to use any medicinal herb. If Lavender oil interacts with another herb, it can trigger side effects. Some other possible side effects are:

- may be toxic if taken orally
- allergic reaction (nausea, vomiting, headache, chills)
- irrate skin if allergic
- slow down central nervous system (CNS)
(Ehrlich, 2011).

Lavender in Food
Blueberry Lavender Gelato- http://beautifullivingfood.blogspot.com/2009/09/blueberry-lavender-gelato-warm.html
Blueberry Lavender Gelato- http://beautifullivingfood.blogspot.com/2009/09/blueberry-lavender-gelato-warm.html

Le Melange Noveau - "A New Blend" (Lavender infused wine)
Le Melange Noveau - "A New Blend" (Lavender infused wine)



Lavender is a popularly used herb in cooking. Lavandula angustifolia is the sweetest fragarance of all lavenders and is the most commonly used in food. In many upscale resturants, lavender is being used in more and more foods to add flavor as well has its flower used to decorate dishes. Interestingly, lavender's flowers and leaves can be used fresh, and buds and stems can be used dried. When cooking with lavender it is important to start off with a small amount of flowers and add more as needed. If too much lavender is added, it will taste like perfume and be bitter. Lavender adds a beautiful color to many dishes, especially salads, and can often be subsituted in recipes for rosemary. The herb lavender can be added to many different foods, some of them are (Stradley, 2011);

-chicken
-jelly/jam
- cookies
-bread
- tea
-ham
-beef
-tuna







References:
Ehrlich, S. (2011, March 05). Lavender. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lavender-000260.htm
Elpel, T. (2011). Lamiaceae mint family. Retrieved from http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/Plant_Families/Lamiaceae.htm
Kahn, D. (2011, March 13). Lavender oil & hair growth. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/79581-lavender-oil-hair-growth/
National Institutes of Health. (2011, March 22). Herbs at a glance:lavender. Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/lavender/ataglance.htm
Stradley, L. (2011). Cooking with lavender. Retrieved from http://whatscookingamerica.net/Lavender.htm
Whimpey, J. (2009, October 9). Active ingredients in lavender. Retrieved from http://miraclesnmagic.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/active-ingredients-in-lavender/