What Is Lovage Oil?
Lovage oil is derived from both the roots and the leaves of the lovage plant (Levisticum officinale), a hardy, herbaceous perennial native to southern parts of Europe. Also called bastard celery in France and love parsley in England, lovage can grow up to 2 meters (6 feet) in height and resembles other umbellifers such as fennel, coriander and parsley, with large umbels of yellow-green flowers with seeds.
Depending on whether the roots are fresh or dried at the time of distillation, lovage oil can be yellow or dark brown in color. It's quite resinous and thick and has a strong floral aroma with a slight bitterness and a hint of celery.1 Conversely, the essential oil derived from the leaves is fairly thin and has a warm, fresh, sweet and spicy aroma.
Uses of Lovage Oil
Dried lovage leaves, seeds and roots are often used in vegetarian cuisine to infuse dishes with its signature savory flavor. It is usually added in soups, stocks, casseroles and salads as a meat substitute.
Its stems can be blanched and eaten as a candy or as a vegetable dipped in a special cheese sauce. Its dried seeds, on the other hand, are ground using mortar and pestle and sprinkled as a spice or seasoning on different kinds of breads and biscuits before baking. Lovage oil specifically extracted from the plant roots is widely used as a:
• Fragrance component in soaps, cosmetic products and perfumes
• Flavoring agent in liquors, nonalcoholic beverages and a variety of edibles
Composition of Lovage Oil
The essential oil from the leaves contains alpha-terpinyl acetate, cis- and trans-ligustilides, alpha-phellandrene and alpha-terpineol, while the root oil has butylidene, dihydrobutylidene, butylphthalide, ligustilide, senkyunolide and a number of other phthalides. Terpenoids and coumarins are also present.2 Lovage oil blends well with bay, galbanum, lavender, oakmoss, opopanax and rose essential oils.3
Benefits of Lovage Oil
The lovage plant is helpful in treating jaundice, chronic constipation, skin diseases and inflammation of the eyes. During the Middle Ages, this herb was very popular for healing rheumatism, malaria, sore throat and kidney stones.
Meanwhile, lovage oil has proven its efficacy in alleviating conditions of the muscles, joints and circulation when used in aromatherapy. It has also been noted as a potent diuretic that can treat colic and a whole range of stomach issues. Lovage oil may also improve different health conditions given its well-documented therapeutic properties, which include:
How to Make Lovage Oil
To make this essential oil, the roots or leaves of the lovage plant are treated through steam distillation. During the steam distillation process, which is the most common and oldest extraction method used for essential oils, going as far back as 5,000 years ago, the botanical material is placed in a still and is subjected to extremely high temperatures in order to extract the essential oil.4
How Does Lovage Oil Work?
Lovage oil may be diffused or applied topically, commonly diluted to desired concentration in most skincare formula. The essential oil derived from the roots may also be used for anointing.5 To get the healing benefits of lovage oil, you can add a few drops into your aroma lamp, bath water, inhaler, light bulb ring, massage oil or mist spray.6
Is Lovage Oil Safe?
Lovage essential oil is a known photosensitizer that will make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet or UV light. If applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight within the next 48 hours, keep the dilution to 1 percent or less. I suggest performing a skin patch test on a small portion of your skin first to check for any sensitivity or allergic reaction.
Side Effects of Lovage Oil
I strongly advise against using lovage oil, or any other essential oil for that matter, if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, do not use it without your doctor's approval if you have existing plant allergies or are taking anticoagulant medications like Coumadin (Warfarin) to avoid unfortunate incidents.