Applied to the skin or through massage
Inhalation or Diffusion: inappropriate and prohibited
Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) is a shrub thirty to sixty centimetres tall of the Lamiaceae family, it grows in the wild at an altitude below seven hundred metres on the arid and sunny hills of southern France and the Mediterranean area.
It is the last of all lavender species to bring to term its pale violet flowers.
A humble cousin of true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), the French name, lavande aspic, is derived from its anti-venom property well known of hunters. They save their dogs bitten by a viper by harvesting a handful of flowers and rubbing the injured site. Spike lavender was probably the "rustic nard" of the Romans. It was of great help to the inexhaustible speakers of the Revolution since Lamarck states in his French flora, a brief description of all plants naturally encountered in France, from 1794, that "it is supposed to be good remedy for the loss of voice".
Cultivation and production
Spike lavender grows abundantly in the wild in Europe. The yield per hectare is very variable, ranging from fifteen to eighty kilograms depending on the plant, climate, region and age of the plantation. The best essential oil yield is obtained when the plant is four to six years old.
The essential oil of spike lavender is darker than that of true lavender with a less suave fragrance. No one would think of perfuming their linen cupboard or custard with it, however this strong fragrance, due to the presence of camphor, seduces perfume makers.
Extraction and yield
The distillation of lavender for aromatherapy is performed by traditional steam distillation. The essential oil yield of spike lavender is of 0.5% to 0.8%, i.e. five hundred to eight hundred grams of essential oil per hundred kilograms of flower.
The main active constituents of essential oil of spike lavender are monoterpenols (more than 40% linalool), terpenic oxides and ketones (camphor: 14%-15%). Camphor and eucalyptol are almost absent in Lavandula vera.
Spike lavender is anti-toxic, anti-infectious and exceptionally wound healer, a precious companion for the summer holidays. It is indicated for everything that stings: insects, jellyfish, sunburns. It exterminates mites and lice, and is also a remarkable fungicide eradicating the most recalcitrant mycoses (dermatological and athletes foot in particular, digestive or gynaecological). It is of great service in the ENT field, as it has an effective analgesic action, especially in case of Herpes zoster, herpes or joint or muscular pains (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cramps, etc.).
True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), French lavender (Lavandula stoechas).
Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.