Did you know that there are over twenty different species of lavender? While most people are familiar with lavender essential oil, derived from the true lavender plant, many are not aware that there are actually three popular varieties of lavender essential oil. These are true lavender, spike lavender, and lavandin. While they share a lot of similar properties, they are all unique in their composition and each bring something different to the table.
The History of Spike Lavender
True lavender, botanically known as Lavandula angustifolia, is the most popular form of the herb and is what most people think of when they think of lavender. It is also referred to as common lavender or English lavender. Spike lavender ( Lavandula latifolia) , is also known as Portuguese lavender and has broad leaves and spiked flowers. Latifola is Latin for “broadleaf.” Lavandin ( Lavandula x intermedia) is also known as Dutch lavender and is a hybrid version of true lavender and spike lavender, caused by natural cross-pollination.
Spike lavender is native to the western Mediterranean, and can grow up to 31 inches (80cm) tall! Whereas true lavender thrives at high altitudes, spike lavender prefers lower altitudes. The difference in environment is what causes spike lavender to have a high concentration of camphor, which true lavender lacks. 1
Spike lavender essential oil has been used to treat various ailments since ancient times. In the middle ages, spike oil was very expensive and only came in small quantities. Artists used to use this oil in place of turpentine, and it was used by many well-known painters such as the Van Eycks.
Cultivation of the plant didn’t begin until around 1925, although it was not as popular as other species of lavender. Around 1950, the distillation of the plant dwindled and artists went back to using the more economical turpentine.
Nowadays, spike lavender essential oil is making a comeback in both the aromatherapy and artistic scenes. It is used widely in aromatherapy, in the production of body care products, as well as a less toxic replacement for turpentine. 2
Spike lavender essential oil is steam distilled from the flowering tops of Lavandula latifolia . The resulting oil is clear and has a floral, herbaceous scent reminiscent of traditional lavender oil. However, spike lavender also has a significant amount of camphor, which gives it a camphoraceous scent similar to eucalyptus or rosemary.
Its chemical composition consists primarily of:
- B-Pinene 4
Spike lavender has particularly high levels of linalool, 1,8 cineole, and camphor, giving it its unique restorative properties.
Uses for Spike Lavender Essential Oil
Spike lavender essential oil can be used both topically and aromatically to ease a wide variety of complaints. It can also be added to homemade body care products, mixed into a massage oil or added to a relaxing bath.
The powerful properties of lavender are widely known, and spike lavender is no different. It can help ease negative feelings, reduce nervous tension, and calm the mind. It can also help to balance and center you when the mind seems to be elsewhere.
To reduce feelings of stress, diffuse spike lavender essential oil throughout your home. You can also mix with a carrier oil and use as a relaxing massage oil, or add a few drops to a warm bath. To assist in staying balanced and grounded, try adding a few drops to a terra-cotta necklace and keeping it around your neck throughout the day.
Reduces Muscle and Joint Discomfort
Spike lavender essential oil is perfect for easing the discomfort of sore muscles and joints. It also makes cramps from menstruation more tolerable. Spike lavender can be helpful for those who simply have general aches and pains.
To ease sore muscles or reduce cramps, add a few drops of spike lavender essential oil to a carrier oil and gently massage onto sore areas. You can also add a few drops to a bath and soak in all of its goodness. Or, diffuse this essential oil throughout a room.
Safety and Precautions
Spike lavender essential oil can be used both aromatically and topically when used with caution, although it should not be taken internally unless working directly with an aromatherapy practitioner.
When using essential oils topically, you should always mix with a carrier oil before applying directly to the skin. Always conduct a patch test before attempting to treat larger areas of the body.
If pregnant or breastfeeding, you should avoid the use of essential oils unless directed by a doctor. Do not attempt to replace prescription medications or treat chronic conditions with essential oils before first consulting your medical practitioner.
Due to its high camphor content, spike lavender essential oil may be mildly neurotoxic.
When stored correctly in a cool, dark place, spike lavender essential oil should last for approximately 5 years.
Spike lavender essential oil is a wonderful alternative for true lavender when you’re in need of a soothing, relaxing oil but are also looking for a more potent option. Whether you’re using it to add to homemade body care products or are simply diffusing it throughout your home, spike lavender essential oil should be a part of everyone’s essential oil collection.