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.
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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.
This particular essential oil is known to have analgesic, antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, decongestant, expectorant, immunostimulant and mucolytic properties.3 This is all due to its composition, which is primarily:
Spike lavender has particularly high levels of linalool, 1,8 cineole, and camphor, giving it its unique healing properties.
- Linalool is known as a powerful anxiolytic, allowing it to ease stress and anxiety and improve sleep. It is also known to relieve congestion, ward off infections and act as an anti-inflammatory.
- 1,8-cineole, commonly known as eucalyptol, helps to ease achy muscles and joints, heal wounds and relieve respiratory symptoms.
- Camphor is also beneficial for respiratory issues and can help to boost circulation, prevent infection, alleviate stress, and reduce inflammation.
Since these three terpenes make up a good chunk of spike lavender essential oil, you can see why this particular oil is so powerful!
Uses for Spike Lavender Essential Oil
Spike lavender essential oil can be used both topically and aromatically to ease a wide variety of symptoms. It can also be added to homemade body care products, mixed into a massage oil or added to a relaxing bath.
Relieves Respiratory Problems
Unlike traditional lavender, spike lavender has a high camphor content. This makes it especially effective in relieving symptoms of respiratory problems such as a cough, bronchitis, congestion, asthma, or allergies due to its expectorant and mucolytic properties. Diffusing spike lavender essential oil can help get rid of excess mucus in the lungs, making it easier to breathe.
To relieve respiratory problems, diffuse spike lavender essential oil throughout your home. You can also mix a couple of drops with a carrier oil and massage onto the chest and neck. Alternatively, carry a small bottle with you and breathe in the scent whenever you feel congested.
Eases Stress and Anxiety
The powerful antidepressant and anxiolytic properties of lavender are widely known, and spike lavender is no different. It can help ease negative feelings, reduce nervous tension, and calm the nervous system. It can also help to promote focus and concentration when the mind seems to be elsewhere.
To reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, 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 clearing the mind and retaining focus, try adding a few drops to a terra-cotta necklace and keeping it around your neck throughout the day.
Reduces Muscle and Joint Pain
Spike lavender essential oil has powerful anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic properties, making it a perfect oil for easing sore muscles and joints. It also helps to reduce the pain of headaches and cramps. Spike lavender can be helpful for those who are suffering from arthritis or 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 healing properties. To ease headaches, diffuse this essential oil throughout a room.
Prevents Infections and Heals Wounds
If you have a minor wound such as a cut, scrape, burn, or bite, spike lavender essential oil can help prevent infections and speed up healing time while reducing pain and inflammation. Its antimicrobial properties also help ease the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis and even dandruff. Its antifungal properties can help fight off fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm.
To treat minor wounds, mix a drop or two of spike lavender essential oil with a carrier oil and apply to the affected area, then cover with a bandage. For eczema, psoriasis, or fungal infections, mix a few drops with a carrier oil and apply over the entire affected area.
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 way to get rid of respiratory ailments, headaches, and muscle pains. 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.