The American Botanical Council (ABC) welcomes the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy’s (NAHA’s) adoption of true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Lamiaceae) through ABC’s Adopt-an-Herb botanical research and education program.
NAHA’s adoption supports ABC’s extensive HerbMedPro database, ensuring that this unique research and educational resource remains up to date for researchers, health professionals, industry members, students, consumers, and other members of the herbal and dietary supplement and natural medicine communities.
HerbMedPro is a comprehensive, interactive online database that provides access to important scientific and clinical research data on the uses and health effects of more than 265 herbs, spices, medicinal plants, and fungi.
NAHA’s mission is to advance the knowledge of the medicinal use of aromatic plants and essential oils and to support aromatherapy as a holistic professional art and science. “Our adoption of true lavender will help educate practitioners and the public alike, helping realize our mission for this iconic aromatic plant,” wrote Annette Davis, president of NAHA (email, November 21, 2019).
Davis hopes that more people will realize the healing properties of aromatic plants like true lavender, rather than simply viewing them as perfumes or fragrances. “We also want people to become more aware of applicable safety recommendations,” she wrote.
“NAHA is pleased to support ABC by adopting true lavender, which is one of the brightest stars of aromatherapy,” Davis added. “Its use can be documented from the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, to the pharmacopeias of ancient Greek and Asian physicians, to the courts of French kings and English queens, to the prescription pads of modern-day healers.”
Stefan Gafner, PhD, ABC’s chief science officer, said: “Lavender has a long and rich history of medical and cosmetic use. Its anxiolytic effects have been investigated in more than a dozen clinical trials. We are deeply grateful to NAHA for its adoption of true lavender, which supports ABC’s HerbMedPro database and allows us to make the science behind this popular ingredient available to a wider audience” (email, December 16, 2019).
About True Lavender
The lavender genus (Lavandula) belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and includes 25-30 species or more. Although it is also called English lavender, true lavender (L. angustifolia) is actually native to the low mountains of the Mediterranean basin. This small, brittle, semi-woody subshrub can grow to three feet tall and has narrow gray-green leaves and small bluish-purple flowers.
A common ornamental plant and mainstay of herb gardens, true lavender is known for its clean, powerful, and pleasing aroma. The essential oil (EO) from its flowers has sweet overtones and is used widely in perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and other products. Lavandin (L. × intermedia), a hybrid of true lavender and spike lavender (L. latifolia), is cultivated more widely and exceeds true lavender in EO production, but true lavender is widely thought to have a finer fragrance. The flowers of true lavender also are used in baking, sachets, and potpourris.
It often is thought that both the genus name Lavandula and the common name “lavender” derive from the Latin lavare, meaning “to wash.” But, some sources claim that no evidence suggests that the flowers or EO were used in baths in ancient Rome. It may be more likely that the genus and common names derive from the Latin livere, meaning “to be livid or blue.” The species name angustifolia owes to the plant’s narrow leaves.
In ancient Greece, Persia, and Rome, lavender was valued for its antiseptic properties. The plant later spread to India and Tibet, where it was used to ease anxiety. In the Middle Ages, it was used for colds, coughs, infections, rheumatic aches, and wounds; and as a strewing herb (an herb that is strewn over floors of buildings and is usually fragrant or astringent). In the 1790s, Thomas Jefferson reportedly planted lavender at Monticello.
True lavender EO reportedly has antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anxiolytic effects. It is used as a calming sedative and to treat anxiety, headaches, insomnia, melancholy, nervousness, and skin ailments. Studies show that true lavender EO may also improve balance and prevent falls in elderly people. Compounds in true lavender EO, like linalool and linalyl acetate, are absorbed rapidly through the skin or mucous membranes.
About the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy
NAHA, which was established in 1990 and has offices in Pocatello, Idaho, is a nonprofit association with more than 5,000 members worldwide. It is devoted to the holistic integration of aromatherapy into a wide range of complementary health care practices, self-care, and home care. NAHA offers scientific and empirical information about aromatherapy and essential oils to the public, practitioners, businesses, product manufacturers, writers, educators, health care professionals, and the media.
NAHA is actively involved with promoting and elevating academic standards in aromatherapy education and practice standards for the profession. It also is dedicated to increasing the public’s knowledge and understanding of aromatherapy and its safe and effective application in clinical practice and everyday life.
Member benefits include a subscription to NAHA’s e-journal, access to recordings of more than 80 webinars about aromatherapy, a calendar of event postings, and more. For more information, visit www.naha.org.
About Adopt-an-Herb and HerbMedPro
NAHA is one of 65 US and international companies and organizations that have supported ABC’s educational efforts to collect, organize, and disseminate reliable traditional and science-based information, including clinical studies, on herbs, medicinal plants, and other botanical- and fungal-based ingredients through the Adopt-an-Herb program. This program encourages companies, organizations, and individuals to “adopt” one or more specific herbs for inclusion and ongoing maintenance in the HerbMedPro database. To date, 73 herbs have been adopted.
Each adopted herb is researched continuously for new scientific articles and botanical, chemical, pharmacological, toxicological, and clinical studies, ensuring that its HerbMedPro record stays current and robust. Access to the studies is organized conveniently by publication type, with each study condensed to a one-sentence summary with a link to the study’s official abstract on PubMed (the US National Library of Medicine’s free-access database) or other publicly accessible database.
HerbMedPro is available to ABC members at the Academic level and higher. Its “sister” site, HerbMed, is available to the general public at no cost, with access to 25-30 herb records from the larger HerbMedPro database. In keeping with ABC’s position as an independent research and education organization, herb adopters do not influence the scientific information that is compiled for their respective adopted herbs.