I have a new love in my life! Green Lavender (Lavandula viridis) is her name. For me getting to know an essential oil has the same frisson as any new love. The growing intimacy, the surprising characteristics that are revealed, the unknown, the edge of mystery. And then the friendly familiarity.
This rare subspecies of Lavandula Stoechas grows abundantly here on our farm in Portugal, but I knew nothing about it until invited a local specialist to teach us how to distill the local aromatics. She introduced us to the wonders of white lavender.
Until this I had thought these strange colourless lavender were just Lavendula Stoechas in waiting, or the result of some mineral imbalance in the soil. They are very distinctive and intriguing, with their pale yellow/green stamens. They seem to grow in distinct patches, in the damper folds of the hills and don’t often intermingle with their purple relatives.
We did a small distillation in 2017, getting about 2 ml of oil and 500 ml of hydrosol from 1 kg of dried plant matter. It was so exciting to watch the appearance of the first oil produced here on our property. We had harvested the plants lovingly and the whole process was undertaken as a meditative celebration. The fragrance of the distillation was heady, as the sharp green camphoraceous vapor filled the air.
Over the past year I have had the delight of following the development of the oil, as its bouquet has settled and smoothed out and become more soft and floral. It’s still fresher and sharper than a ‘normal’ lavender, with a lung opening, deep breathing effect, but it is also gentle and linaloolic.
Green Lavender coming off the still, look at that layer of oil building.
Who are you and how can you help?
When getting to know an essential oil I offer it around. I watch who responds to it, and when. Like ancient healers, learning from the animals. Over the year, the essential oil has been selected by animals for wounds, fungal infection and sinus irritation. I used it for myself in combination with eucalyptus in a steam bath when I had a bad case of the flu. I found it opening and relaxing. I have also used the hydrosol as a soothing skin cleanser, that gently disinfects and relieves irritation, and for bruises.
A research study published in 2011 in the Journal of Medical Microbiology identified fifty-one essential oil compounds in this species. These include a large proportion of oxygen-containing monoterpenes, followed by monoterpene hydrocarbons. Among the fifty-one compounds, 1,8-cineole, camphor, alpha-pinene, and linalool had the highest percentages, respectively. From these results we can see how the essential oil is anti-infectious and opens the lungs, and is at the same time soothing and gentle.
The research found that the essential oils had a strong antifungal activity against yeasts and filamentous fungi, specifically strains of Candida, Aspergillus, Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Cryptococcus. Of these strains, L. viridis was most active against Cryptococcus, then Candida, and was least effective against Aspergillus strains. The hydrosol may be a safe natural option for cats[/caption]
We have used the essential oil for fungal infections on our animal and human family with good success. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of the hydrosol as a natural anti-fungal solution for cats as well, although have not had chance to try that yet.
On an emotional level, Green Lavender is supportive, giving a feeling of “I can do this”. She grows in moister, cooler areas than her purple sister and is softer to the touch. She is relaxing and invigorating at the same time and incredibly generous with her yield of oil, as if she wants to help. It is often selected by those who feel exhausted by caring too much.