Story and legend
- In the ancient Egypt essential oils, such as the lavender oil, were used for mummification. It seems like they have done a great job, since their majesties can still be admired in museums. Essential oils have also served people by bathing and as perfumes (Cleopatra).
- The ancient Greeks have called it nard or spike, the lavender is mentioned several times in the Bible, they have used it for anointing.
- In the Roman Empire people have used lavender oil by choice. Probably its name is coming for their culture (lavare = to wash).
- Dioscorides, an army-doctor from the first century, mentions lavender in his standard work of "De Materia Medica".
- The bezant doctor Aetius of Amida, centuries later the famous Arabic scientist Avicenna (Ibn Sina) are both mentioning the art of distillation in written form.
- In the "dark" Middle Ages monks were keeping the knowledge in the garth. In her book Saint Hildegrad of Bingen devotes an entire episode for the healing power of lavender. Her famous recipe is as follows: "Whoever cooks lavender with wine, or if the person has no wine, with honey and water, and drinks it often lukewarm, it will alleviate the pain in the liver and in the lungs and the steam in his chest. Lavender wine will provide the person with pure knowledge and a clear understanding."
- In France in the 1500s rectifiers have been used and special books mention the "oleum lavandulae".
- During the rule of Elisabeth I. of England in the XVI. century the lavender had its golden ages: in the hope of rejuvenation and against migraine people put lavender bags under their pillows.
- The flower of lavender was scattered on the floor of churches and castles in order to keep away insects and cover unpleasant smells.
- During the time of epidemies in the XVII. century 4 thieves were censured. Despite that they were robbing corpse died from pest, they never became sick. They thanked their health for a special herb acetic made from rosemary, thyme, clary and lavender. Today we can purchase their essential oils.
- Queen Victoria had her own supplier of lavender and her devotion for the purple flower has enchanted all the other fine ladies. They have used it wherever they could.
- The French chemist René Gattefosse has introduced the essential lavender oil into the traditional western medicine in the 1900s. By an accident his laboratory has exploded. He put his burnt arm into lavender oil and surprisingly noticed that his pain quickly decreased and neither infection nor a scar have been evolved. This experience has confirmed his faith in the healing power of essential oils. In his book of 1937 "Gattefosse's Aromatherpy" he uses the term aromatherapy for the first time.
In the genus of lavandula we can differentiate among 39 species, in which there are several other types and variations. The various types of lavender from rosy to purplish colors are the favorite objects for today's plant-breeders.
In the nomenclature there is a huge quarrel in Hungary as well as abroad. In Hungary we call the lavandula angustifolia the French lavender probably for the reason that in the beginning of the 1900s the great herbal scientist Bittera Gyula has imported the first lavender plants from France to Tihany, Hungary. In the Anglo-Saxon regions the same flower is called the "English lavender" whereby as for Hungary the English lavender is normally the lavandin or hybrid lavender which is mainly hallmarked by the plantation of Pannonhalma. The easiest and clearest way is to call the herbs on their typonym, in the official aromatherapy it is even inevitable.
The lavender fields in Provance were planted during the recession after First World War in order to capitalize the stony, worse quality regions, which were unusable for cereal production. Due to its double output mainly the hybrid lavender was used for this purpose.
I would like to highlight 4 lavender species, which are most commonly used in healing. About these lavender types you can find more information in my article in the Aromatika-e magazine.
These are: Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula x intermedia, Lavandula spika and Lavandula stoechas.