Lavender oil is an essential oil obtained by distillation from the flower spikes of certain species of lavender. Two forms are distinguished, lavender flower oil, a colorless oil, insoluble in water, having a density of 0.885 g/mL; and lavender spike oil, a distillate from the herb Lavandula latifolia, having density 0.905 g/mL.
Lavender oil, which has long been used in the production of perfume, can also be used in aromatherapy. The scent has a calming effect which may aid in relaxation and the reduction of anxietyand stress.Lasea capsules containing lavender oil with a high amount of linalool and linalyl acetate, termed Silexan by the manufacturer, are approved as an anxiolytic in Germany.The approval is based on a finding that the capsules are comparable in effect to low-dose lorazepam.
In vitro, lavender oil is cytotoxic as well as photosensitizing. A study demonstrated that lavender oil is cytotoxic to human skin cells in vitro (endothelial cells and fibroblasts) at a concentration of 0.25%. Linalool, a component of lavender oil, reflected the activity of the whole oil, indicating that linalool may be the active component of lavender oil. The result of another study showed that aqueous extracts reduced mitotic index, but induced chromosome aberrations and mitotic aberrations in comparison with control, significantly. Aqueous extracts induced breaks, stickiness, pole deviations and micronuclei. Furthermore, these effects were related to extract concentrations.
However, according to a 2005 study "although it was recently reported that lavender oil, and its major constituent linalyl acetate, are toxic to human skin cells in vitro, contact dermatitis to lavender oil appears to occur at only a very low frequency. The relevance of this in vitro toxicity to dermatological application of Lavandula oils remains unclear."
In terms of phototoxicity, a 2007 investigative report from European researchers stated that, "Lavender oil and sandalwood oil did not induce photohaemolysis in our test system. However, a few reports on photosensitivity reactions due to these substances have been published, e.g. one patient with persistent light reaction and a positive photo-patch test to sandalwood oil."
Oil of spike lavender has also occasionally been used as a solvent in oil painting, mainly before the use of distilled turpentine became common. For instance Francisco Pacheco mentions the use of lavender oil in his book "Arte de la pintura"
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