This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Lavender: shrubby plant, with its leaves set in pairs, the stalks square when young, and round when grown woody; producing, on the tops of the branches, naked spikes of blue, sometimes white, labiated flowers, of which the upper lip is erect and cloven, the lower divided into three roundish fegments.
1. Lavendula Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Lavandula angustisolia C. B. Pseudonardus quae lavendula vulgo J. B. Lavenduda minor five spica Ger. & Park. Lavendula Spica Linn. Lavender: with oblong, very narrow, somewhat hoary, undivided leaves; a native of dry gravelly soils in the southern parts of Europe, common in our gardens, and flowering in July.
The flowers of lavender have a fragrant smell, to most people agreeable, and a bitterish, warm, somewhat pungent taste: the leaves are weaker and less grateful. They are often employed as a perfume; and medicinally, as mild stimulants and corroborants, in vertigoes, palsies, tremors, and other debilities of the nervous system, both-internally and externally.
The flowers are sometimes taken in the form of conserve; into which they are reduced, by beating them, while fresh, with thrice their weight of double refined sugar. Their fragrance is less injured by beating or bruising them than mod of the other odoriferous flowers, but is nevertheless considerably diminished: the flavour of the leaves is of a much less destructible kind.
Water extracts by infusion nearly all the virtue both of the leaves and flowers. In distillation with water, the leaves yield a very small portion of essential oil; the flowers a much larger, amounting, in their most perfect state, when they are ready to fall off spontaneoufly and the seeds begin to shew themselves, to about one ounce from sixty. The oil is of a bright yellowith lowish colour, a very pungent taste, and posses-fes, if carefully distilled, the fragrance of the lavender in perfection: it is given internally from one drop to five, and employed in external applications for stimulating paralytic limbs and-for destroying cutaneous insects. The decoction, remaining after the distillation of the oil, is disagreeably bitterish and somewhat saline. Rectified spirit extracts the virtue of lavender more completely than water. The spirit elevates also in distillation a considerable part of the odoriferous matter of the leaves, and greatest part of that of the flowers; leaving in the infpiffated extracts, a moderate pungency and bitterishness with very little smell. A spirit prepared by pouring a gallon of proof spirit on a pound and a half of the fresh-gathered flowers, and drawing off five pints by the heat of a water bath; or by adding eight pounds of rectified spirit to two of the flowers, and drawing off seven pounds, is richly impregnated with the fragrance of the flowers. More compounded spirits of this kind, in which other aromatics are joined to the lavender, have been diftinguished by the name of English or palsy drops: the college of London directs three pints of the simple spirit of lavender, and one pint of spirit of rosemary, to be digested on half an ounce of cinnamon, half an ounce of nutmegs, and one ounce of red faunders, as a colouring ingredient: the college of Edinburgh, to the same quantity of both spirits, orders one ounce of cinnamon, two drams of cloves, half an ounce of nutmegs, and three drams of red saunders. These preparations are taken internally, on sugar or in any convenient vehicle, from ten to an hundred drops, and used externally in embrocations, etc.
OI. effentiale flor. lavend. ph. Lond. & Ed.
Spiritus la-vend. Ph. Lond.
- simpl. Ph. Ed.
Tinct.lavend. comp. Ph. Lond.
Spirit, la-vend. comp. Ph. Ed.
2. Lavendula latifolia C. B. Lavendula major feuspica Pharm. Paris. Pseudonardus quae vulgospica J. B. Lavendula major five vulgaris Park. Broad lavender: with longer, broader, and hoarier leaves, less numerous on the stalks and branches; and much larger spikes, though smaller flowers; common in the southern parts of Europe, but rare among us. The name spike is applied by foreign writers to this species, by some of ours to the first. Linnasus makes this only a variety of the former.
The broad-leaved lavender is stronger both in smell and taste than the narrow, and yields in distillation almost thrice as much essential oil, but the flavour both of the oil and of the plant itself, is much less grateful: the oil is like wife of a much darker colour, inclining to green. Watery and spirituous extracts, made from the two sorts of lavender, are very nearly alike; the difference seeming to reside only in the volatile parts.