(From lavando washing; because it was used in baths). Lavender, staechas.
Lavendula latifolia, nardus Italica, spica mas, pseudonardus aspic, common broad leaved lavender, or spike lavender, lavendula spica Lift. Sp. Pl. 800. β, is a shrubby plant, with its leaves set in pairs, the stalks square while young, and round when old: on the tops of the branches are naked spikes of bluish, sometimes of white, flowers; and this species hath by much the larger spike, though the flowers are less. Of all the verticilated plants, this alone bears a spike, and from hence its trivial name is taken. It is common in the southern parts of Europe; stronger both in smell and taste than the narrow leaved; and by distillation yields near twice the quantity of essential oil, which is both heavier and more pungent than that from the other kind, but of a less pleasing flavour. The water and spirituous extracts from each sort are nearly alike.
In the south of France, where both species are indigenous, the broad leaved is only used for obtaining the oil called oil of spike, named daveredon, and oil of aspic, which, if genuine, is limpid, though sometimes yellowish. The flowers contain almost all the oil, and should be macerated some days before they are distilled. This oil is adulterated with oil of turpentine, and with rectified spirit of wine; but, if genuine, it dissolves sandarac, and copal; and is the best known solvent of amber.
Lavendula angustifolia, spica faemina, and vulgaris, pseudo nardus, common lavender, spike, or narrow leaved lavender, lavendula spica Lin. Sp. Pl. 800. α. The leaves of this variety are very narrow and somewhat hoary; native in the southern parts of Europe, but growing in our gardens vigorously. The flowers appear in June or July, are very fragrant and agreeable, bitterish, and pungent; sometimes used as a mild stimulantand corroborant, in vertigos, palsies, tremors, and other debilities of the nervous system. Dr. Cullen assert that, both externally or internally, it is a powerful stimulant of the nervous system, chiefly exciting the nerves of the animal functions, seldom those of the vital. It will consequently be safer in palsies than the warmer aromatics, if not given in a spirituous menstruum, or with more heating aromatics.
Water extracts by infusion near all the virtue both of the flowers and leaves; but the flowers are greatly superior: they afford the most oil when ready to fall off spontaneously and the seeds to appear.
The essential oil when fresh, and from flowers in perfection, is of a pale yellow colour, of a pungent taste, very fragrant, and of the peculiar smell admired in the flowers. These may be separated from the plant by drying, and then gently beating them; they should be immediately committed to the still, and the process conducted with a gentle heat. The oil is given internally as a cordial, from one drop to five, and used as a stimulant in palsies, lethargies, and the various delbili-ties of the nervous system, particularly of the animal functions. Murray forbids it when any danger from stimulating the sanguiferous system exists. If soft paper moistened with it is applied to any part infested with cutaneous insects, as the pediculi inguinales, they will soon be destroyed.
Rectified spirit extracts the oil most completely, and in distillation carries some of the odoriferous part with it. The simple spirit, according to the London college, is prepared by adding a gallon of proof spirit to a pound and half of the fresh flowers. and distilling five pints. The formula for the compound spirit follows: spt.
lavendulae m. libras tres, rorismarin. m. lb i. corticis cinnamomi contusi, nucis moschatae contusae singulo-rum, p. unciam dimidiam; santali rubri, p. i. Digere per dies decern et cola. Ph. Lond. 1788. this used to be called the English palsydrop, or English drop. The dose is from ten drops to a tea spoonful. See Lewis's Materia Medica.