Lavender And Edible Flowers

LEVEND~1The principal constituent of Lavender is the volatile oil, of which the dried flowers contain from 1.5 to 3 per cent fresh flowers yielding about 0.5 per cent. It is pale yellow, yellowish-green or nearly colorless, with the fragrant odor of the flowers and a pungent, bitter taste. The chief constituents of the oil are linalool and its acetic ester, linalyl acetate, which is also the characteristic ingredient of oil of bergamot and is present in English oil of Lavender to the extent of 7 to 10 per cent. Other constituents of the oil are cineol (in English oil, only a trace in French oils), pinene, limonene, geraniol, borneol and some tannin. Lavender oil is soluble in all proportions of alcohol.
It is principally to the esters that Lavender oil owes its delicate perfume. In the oil there are two esters which practically control the odor, of these the principal is linalyl acetate, the second is linalyl butyrate, and Lavender oil nowadays is very largely valued by chemical analysis, involving a determination of the esters. Many things influence the ester value of Lavender oil. In the first place, the preponderance of one or other of the varieties of Lavender used for distillation makes an appreciable difference; in cultivated material, the use of artificial manures not only increases the ester value of the oil, but also increases the yield. The gathering of the flowers when fully expanded and their rapid transport to the stills has considerable influence and the rapid distillation by steam shows a very marked advantage over water distillation. The proportion of esters in Lavender also depends on the period of development of the flower. In June, the esterase found disseminated throughout all the green parts of the plant. From this time onwards, as the plants develop, the esters commence to concentrate in the flowering spikes: the accumulation of oil in these spikes can be distinctly seen by the naked eye in brilliant sunshine, the tiny oil globules shining like little diamonds. The delicacy is completed by the concentration of the esters during the following month, in an ordinary year, the maximum odor is developed by the end of July. About the middle of August, the perfume commences to deteriorate. Oil distilled from the earliest flowers is pale and contains a higher proportion of the more valuable esters, oil distilled from the later flowers has a preponderance of the less valuable esters and is darker in color. It is evident from these facts that the correct time of gathering is directly flowering is at the full, and English Lavender is always entirely harvested in under a week, and the flowers are distilled on the spot.
Medicinal Action and Uses-Lavender was used in earlier days as a condiment and for flavoring dishes ‘to comfort the stomach.’ Gerard speaks of Conserves of Lavender being served at table.
It has aromatic, carminative and nerving properties. Though largely used in perfumery, it is now not much employed internally, except as a flavoring agent, occurring occasionally in pharmacy to cover disagreeable odors in ointments and other compounds.
Red Lavender lozenges are employed both as a mild stimulant and for their pleasant taste.
The essential oil, or a spirit of Lavender made from it, proves admirably restorative and tonic against faintness, palpitations of a nervous sort, weak giddiness, spasms and colic. It is agreeable to the taste and smell, provokes appetite, raises the spirits and dispels flatulence. The dose is from 1 to 4 drops on sugar or in a spoonful or two of milk.
A few drops of the essence of Lavender in a hot footbath has a marked influence in relieving fatigue. Outwardly applied, it relieves toothache, neuralgia, sprains, and rheumatism. In hysteria, palsy and similar disorders of debility and lack of nerve power, Lavender will act as a powerful stimulant.
‘It profited them much,’ says Gerard, ‘that have the palsy if they be washed with the distilled water from the Lavender flowers, or are annointed with the oil made from the flowers and olive oil in such manner as oil of roses is used.’
Culpepper says that:
‘a decoction made with the flowers of Lavender, Horehound, Fennel and Asparagus root, and a little Cinnamon, is very profitably used to help the falling-sickness (epilepsy) and the giddiness or turning of the brain.’
Salmon in his Herbal (1710) says that:
‘it is good also against the biting of serpents, mad-dogs and other venomous creature, being given inwardly and applied poultice-wise to the parts wounded. The spirituous tincture of the dried leaves or seeds, if prudently given, cures hysteric fits though vehement and of long standing.’
In some cases of mental depression and delusions, oil of Lavender proves of real service, and a few drops rubbed on the temple will cure nervous headache.
Compound Tincture of Lavender, sold under the name of Lavender drops, besides being a useful coloring and flavoring for mixtures, is still largely used for faintness. This tincture of red Lavender is a popular medicinal cordial, and is composed of the oils of Lavender and Rosemary, with cinnamon bark, nutmeg and red sandal wood, macerated in spirit of wine for seven days. A teaspoonful may be taken as a dose in a little water after an indigestible meal, repeating after half an hour if needed.
It has been officially recognized in the successive British Pharmacopeia for over 200 years. In the eighteenth century, this preparation was known as ‘palsy drops’ and as ‘red hart shorn.’ The formula which first appeared in the London Pharmacopeia at the end of the seventeenth century was a complicated one. It contained nearly thirty ingredients, and was prepared by distilling the fresh flowers of lavender, sage, rosemary, betony, cowslips, lily of the valley, etc., with French brandy; in the distillate such spices as cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cardamoms were digested for twenty-four hours, and then musk, ambergris, saffron, red roses and red sanders-wood were tied in a bag and suspended in the spirit to perfume and color it. The popularity of this remedy for two hundred and fifty years may be understood by referring to the statements made concerning its virtues when it was first made official. It was said to be useful:
‘against the Falling-sickness, and all cold Distempers of the Head, Womb, Stomach and Nerves; against the Apoplexy, Palsy, Convulsions, Megrim, Vertigo, Loss of Memory, Dimness of Sight, Melancholy, Swooning Fits and Barrenness in Women. It was given in canary, or the Syrup of the Juice of Black-cherries, or in Florence wine. Country people may take it in milk or fair water sweetened with sugar…. It is an excellent but costly medicine.’
In the London Pharmacopeia of 1746 a very drastic change was made in the recipe and practically no change has been made since that time.
A tea brewed from Lavender tops, made in moderate strength, is excellent to relieve headache from fatigue and exhaustion, giving the same relief as the application of Lavender water to the temples. An infusion taken too freely, will, however, cause griping and colic, and Lavender oil in too large doses is a narcotic poison and causes death by convulsions.
‘The chemical oil drawn from Lavender,’ to quote Culpepper, ‘usually called Oil of Spike, is of so fierce and piercing a quality, that it is cautiously to be used, some few drops being sufficient to be given with other things, either for inward or outward grief.’
Lavender oil is found of service when rubbed externally for stimulating paralyzed limbs. Mixed with 3/4 spirit of turpentine or spirit of wine it made the famous Oleum Spicae, formerly much celebrated for curing old sprains and stiff joints. Fomentations with Lavender in bags, applied hot, will speedily relieve local pains.
Distilled water made from Lavender has been used as a gargle and for hoarseness and loss of voice.
Its use in the swabbing of wounds obtained further proof during the War, and the French Academy of Medicine is giving attention to the oil for this and other antiseptic surgical purposes. The oil is successfully used in the treatment of sores, varicose ulcers, burns and scalds. In France, it is a regular thing for most households to keep a bottle of Essence of Lavender as a domestic remedy against bruises, bites and trivial aches and pains, both external and internal.
Lavender oil is also used in veterinary practice, being very efficacious in killing lice and other parasites on animals. Its germicidal properties are very pronounced. In the south-east of France it is considered a useful vermifuge.
The oil is used in the embalming of corpses to a steadily increasing extent.
Preparations and Dosages-Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 (I/8ounce). Compound Tincture, B.P., and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 (I/8 ounce). Oil, 1 to 3 drops. Spirit, B.P. and U.S.P., 5 to 30 drops.
Adulteration of Lavender Oil. French oils containing less than 30 per cent of esters are very often mixed with Spike or Bastard Lavender oils. Formerly adulteration used to be with oil of Turpentine, often mixed with coco-nut oil, but this has given place to various artificial esters prepared chemically, which are practically odorless and only added to make the oil appear to have a higher ester percentage than it really has. Recently, crude mixtures of Lavender oil with Petitgrain oil have been noticed on the market.
Spanish Lavender Oil, distilled in Spain and sold largely to England as Lavender oil, is not genuine Lavender oil at all, but an oil practically free from esters, having the general character of Spike Lavender oil. The production of this oil now reaches about 40,000 kilos per annum.
Spike Lavender Oil is of a penetrating, camphoraceous odor and is never worth more than about one-fifth of the value of genuine Lavender oil. The oil is used in veterinary practice in considerable quantities, as a prophylactic in cases of incipient paralysis. It is also employed (together with that from L. Stoechas) in the manufacture of certain types of fine varnishes and lacquers, with oil of turpentine, and used by painters on porcelain. It is used to a very great extent in cheap perfumery and for scenting soaps, especially in England and the United States. The annual production of Spike Lavender oil in France is about 25,000 kilos.
This oil of Latifolia or Spica is said to admirably promote the growth of the hair when weakly or falling off. A decoction – Spike Water – can be made from the plant.
Dried Lavender flowers are still greatly used to perfume linen, their powerful, aromatic odor acting also as a preventative to the attacks of moths and other insects. In America, they find very considerable employment for disinfecting hot rooms and keeping away flies and mosquitoes, who do not like the scent. Oil of Lavender, on cotton-wool, tied in a little bag or in a perforated ball hung in the room, is said to keep it free from all flies.
Not only are insects averse to the smell of Lavender, so that oil of Lavender rubbed on the skin will prevent midge and mosquito bites, but it is said on good authority that the lions and tigers in our Zoological Gardens are powerfully affected by the scent of Lavender Water, and will become docile under its influence.
The flowers and leaves were formerly employed as a sternutatory and probably still enter into the composition of some snuffs.
In the East, especially in Turkey and Egypt, they are used, as of old, for perfuming the bath.
The ‘straw,’ completely freed from the flowers, is sold and used as litter and also for making ointment. If burnt, for deodorizing purposes, the stalks diffuse a powerful, but agreeable odor.
Lavender Water can easily be prepared at home. Into a quart bottle are put 1 OZ. essential oil of Lavender, one drop of Musk and 1 1/2 pint spirits of wine. These three ingredients are well mixed together by shaking. The mixture is left to settle, shaken again in a few days, then poured into little perfume bottles fitted with air-tight stoppers. This is another recipe from an old family book:
Put into a bottle half a pint of spirit of wine and two drachms of oil of lavender. Mix it with rose-water, five ounces, orange-flower water, two ounces, and also two drachms of musk and six ounces of distilled water.’
This is stated to be ‘a pleasant and efficacious cordial and very useful in languor and weakness of the nerves, lowness of spirits, fainting, etc.’
Another recipe is to mix 2 oz. of refined essence of Lavender with 3/4 pint of good brandy. This Lavender Water is so strong that it must be diluted with water before it is used.
Lavender Vinegar. A refreshing toilet preparation is made by mixing 6 parts of Rosewater, 1 part of spirits of Lavender and 2 parts of Orleans vinegar.
It can also be prepared from freshly gathered flower-tops. These are dried, placed in a tapered bottle and steeped for a week in Orleans vinegar. Every day the bottle must be shaken, and at the end of the week the liquid is drained off and filtered through white blotting paper.
Another delicious and aromatic toilet vinegar is made as follows: Dry a good quantity of rose leaves, lavender flowers and jasmine flowers. Weigh them, and to every 4 oz. of rose leaves allow 1 OZ. each of lavender and jasmine. Mix them well together, pour over them 2 pints of white vinegar, and shake well, then add 1/2 pint of rose-water and shake again. Stand aside for ten days, then strain and bottle.

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The entire contents of this website are based upon opinions, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience.Therefore all of the medical and herb information on this blog are based on a research. The sources are Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr Weixl-Várhegyi László,and the candidate of the herbalogie Szabo Gyorgy .