The Truth About Lavender Oil
Every day, more and more lavender oil goes on the market, invariably labeled "pure" and much of it from France. But is this oil truly lavender?
Or is it the common substitute, lavandin… or something else?
Why Your Lavender Oil May Be Lavendin… or WorseIn the last two decades, virtually all the lavender fields in France have been attacked by a virus that has killed the lavender plants.
On top of that, a serious drought has killed nearly all the remaining lavender plants.
In the early 1990s, the French Agriculture Department stopped subsidizing lavender production. As a result, many farmers quit growing lavender, or quit farming altogether. Since there was no lavender oil to distill, 40 percent of the distilleries in France went out of business from 1985 until 1994.
Then again from 1995 to 2011, 60 percent of the farmers who had been growing lavender since 1995 went out of business.
Even though in 2000, the French government started subsidizing lavender farmers again, most remaining lavender farmers had replanted with different crops and did not go back to growing lavender. [See: The Lavender Deception]
With over 90 percent of all the lavender in France destroyed and former lavender farmers now growing other crops, how much true lavender can possibly be coming from France?
Meanwhile, the demand for lavender has continued to increase worldwide. How can this demand be satisfied?
For many farmers, the solution has been (and still is) to plant lavandin, a common replacement for true lavender. Lavandin is easier to grow and yields five to six times more oil. However, lavendin is a solution for fragrance purposes only. Therapeutically, it is a far cry from lavender. Yet, more often than not, lavendin is passed off as Lavandula angustifolia, the proper cultivar for aromatherapy use.
To add insult to injury, most of this lavendin is altered with synthetic linalol. Linalol is a fragrance molecule that is often added during the distillation process because it smells much like lavender and it also brings the oil's linalol content to the normal percentage expected in Lavandula angustifolia. The linalol-enhanced lavendin oil is then put into barrels for export and shipped out as pure lavender.
What's Wrong With Lavandin?
Lavandin is a useful oil if used with understanding and for the correct purposes. But when passed off as lavender, serious consequences can arise for the user.
Lavendin is high in the chemical compound camphene. Camphene has antiseptic, antibacterial, and analgesic properties which can be very useful. However, camphene can literally burn the skin. Imagine buying a bottle of lavender and applying it to your face and ending up with burns all over your face. Or applying it to a burn to soothe it and aggravating it instead.
Shocking? Yes, yet that is what is happening to many unsuspecting people. Pure lavender does not contain camphene and NEVER burns the skin. If any essential oil marked lavender burns your skin, that is a clear sign that it is NOT lavender.
To be fair, the caustic action of camphene can be mitigated when properly blended with other essential oils. But this can only happen in the hands of a skilled aromatherapist. Even so, lavandin mixed with added camphene is not lavender and will never be. It cannot have the therapeutic effects of true lavender.
In Jean Valnet’s book, "The Practice of Aromatherapy," Valnet writes about a man being treated with lavender for a hemorrhoid-type problem. The man forgot to bring his lavender along on a trip, so he purchased a bottle of "lavender" on the road. Valnet explains what happened:
“Unfortunately this essence was neither natural nor pure: one single installation was followed by a painful inflammation of such severity that the unfortunate person was unable to sit down for more than a fortnight” (14 nights).Fortunately, Young Living has huge lavender farms in Utah and Idaho, where the lavender is growing strong, healthy and free of viruses.
You can be assured you are getting the highest quality lavender essential oil (lavandula angustifolia) when you order Young Living Lavender oil from this site.
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