Lavender Spike Oil: Lovelier Than True Lavender?

Lavender Spike Oil:  Lovelier Than True Lavender?

Story at-a-glance -

  • An evergreen perennial plant, lavender is indigenous to Southern Europe, the mountain regions of the western border of the Mediterranean, North and East Africa, Arabia, India, and the Canary Islands. But nowadays, lavender is widely cultivated around the world for commercial and personal use.
  • Produced through steam or water distillation of its flowering tops, spike lavender oil has a fresh, slightly spicy, floral, and camphoraceous scent and is typically clear or yellowish in color.

There are over 20 different species of lavender, and on top of these are several cultivars and hybrids brought by its popularity and extensive history of cultivation. The three most common and most popular lavender oils available commercially are:1

  • True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) — Also known as common lavender or English lavender, it produces clumps of beautiful, scented flowers above green or silvery-gray foliage
  • Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) — Dubbed the Portuguese lavender, it is a coarser plant with broader leaves and spiked flowers. "Latifola" is a Latin term for "broadleaf" while "Lavandula," its genus name, simply means lavender.
  • Lavandin (L. x intermedia) — Also called the Dutch lavender, it is a hybrid version of the result of a natural cross-pollination of true lavender and spike lavender

Read on and discover why, among these three types of lavender oil, spike lavender oil is preferred by most herbal oil producers and enthusiasts.

What Is Lavender Spike Oil?

Spike lavender is native to the western Mediterranean region, including central Portugal, northern Italy, Spain, and Southern France. This flowering plant from the Lamiaceae family grows from 30 to 80 centimeters tall. It has pale lilac flowers that grow on spikes, which blossom from June to September, depending on the weather.

While true lavender grows naturally at high altitudes, spike lavender thrives more at lower altitudes. According to experts, this difference in growing environments explains why spike lavender oil contains more camphor, the chemical responsible for its sweet herbaceous smell, while true lavender oil has very little to none.2

Produced through steam or water distillation of its flowering tops, spike lavender oil has a fresh, slightly spicy, floral, and camphoraceous scent and is typically clear or yellowish in color.

Uses of Lavender Spike Oil

Spike lavender oil has similar applications as true lavender oil. It's also frequently used in the fragrance industry, specifically in soap formulations.

Due to its stronger camphor content, spike lavender oil is said to provide more potent analgesic and expectorant properties, which makes it an excellent choice for headache relief when used in a diffuser. Topically, it may work as an insect repellant and as a salve to help ease aches, pains, and other discomfort caused by arthritis.3

Composition of Lavender Spike Oil

The major components of lavender spike oil are L-linalool, d-borneol, and their esters. Geraniol, d-terpineol, d-camphor, d-camphene, d-pinene, cineol, and n-hexanol have also been found. The quality of lavender spike oil is evaluated through the levels of alcohol content in it. It must be free of alcohols and must not contain too much borneol. This is determined through infrared spectroscopy.4

Lavender spike oil blends well with other essential oils, including cedarwood, clary sage, clove, eucalyptus, lavender, oak moss, patchouli, petitgrain, pine, rosemary, and sage.

Benefits of Lavender Spike Oil

Lavender spike oil has powerful antiseptic properties that help soothe and heal cuts, burns, and damaged or scarred skin. It may also have beneficial effects for the following conditions:

Because of its relaxing and stimulating effects, spike lavender oil may help in regulating sleep, calmness, mental alertness, and stress-related conditions, including depression.

How to Make Lavender Spike Oil

Spike lavender oil produces higher yield compared to other lavender varieties, making it an inexpensive essential oil to make. Steam or water distillation is the most common process of extraction used for this aromatic essential oil. To produce a high-quality lavender spike oil with excellent levels of natural esters, experts recommend picking fresh flowering tops in morning dew and distilling it directly.5

How Does Lavender Spike Oil Work?

According to the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, spike lavender oil was traditionally used for headaches, rheumatic pain, colic, and dyspepsia. In modern aromatherapy, spike lavender oil shares some of true lavender's properties. However, it is slightly stronger and should be used more sparingly.6

Applied topically, lavender spike oil can improve allergies, athlete's foot, dandruff, dermatitis, and sunburns. It can also work wonders when added in baths, diffusers, inhalers, and mist sprays.

Is Lavender Spike Oil Safe?

Lavender spike oil is generally safe if used appropriately. As with all essential oils, I do not recommend the use of lavender spike oil for pregnant or nursing women without seeking expert medical opinion first. In addition, I advise against using it topically without diluting it in mild carrier oil. Always perform a skin patch test on a small portion of your skin to check for any skin sensitivity. Avoid contact with the eyes or mucus membranes.

Side Effects of Lavender Spike Oil

Due to its sleep-inducing effects, I suggest that you avoid using lavender spike oil before driving or operating any machinery to prevent any unfortunate accidents.
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