The lavender is a small shrub from the family of the Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean region and is widely diffused also in the Middle East, grows on dry and sunny calcareous soils and can reach 60 cm of height. It is a plant characterized by narrow sage green leaves whose flowers are grouped in the terminal tip and give the lavender its characteristic violet or mauve color and a pleasant scent.
The name lavender comes from the Latin (wash) because at the time it was commonly used to wash clothes, since its scent has the advantage of keeping parasites away from the linen, but lavender has mainly antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It helps to free the skin from bacteria and microbes and then “wash it”.
There are three commonly used types of lavender, each with different properties and uses:
- Lavandula Spica
- Lavandula Officinalis or Angustifolia
Lavender flowers are placed to dry, then reduce them to powder and use in capsules or infusions; if instead, distillates provide what we know as essential lavender oil, also used in cosmetic compositions.
Lavender has many properties, including:
In addition, lavender essential oil is rich in functional substances such as terpenes, tannins, flavonoids, coumarin derivatives, rosmarinic acid and phytosterols; it acts on the central nervous system with sedative and anxiolytic action, as well as promoting muscle relaxation.
It is used against restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, depression and to soothe mild painful conditions; lavender flowers can be used in the flu , as they are antiseptic and disinfectants therefore improve bronchial secretions. Lavender essential oil is appreciated as repellent for mosquitoes and other insects.
In some people prone to allergies, lavender can cause irritation or inflammation of the skin. It is not recommended during the first 3 months of pregnancy. It can cause constipation or headache.