The Difference Between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandin Essential Oils

There are so many different ways that essential oil brands adulterate oils, and one of them is by replacing ‘Lavandula angustifolia’, or English Lavender, with one of thirty-five other types of Lavender plants (such as Hidcote, Munstead, Peter Pan and Royal Purple). The most common adulterant is ‘Lavandula Intermedia’, commonly referred to as ‘Lavandin’, which is the most similar to English Lavender, but also includes its own varieties (such as Grosso, Super, Sussex, Soumian and Abrialis). 

The problem then becomes that Lavender essential oil can be derived from all/any of these, so it’s important to educate yourself to what the differences are between ‘Lavandula angustifolia’ and other lavender varieties. 

The Different Types of Lavender Plants

If they're both varieties of lavender and both produce essential oil, what makes
different types of lavender plants so different?

Lavandin is less expensive, and and quite a different oil with its own unique and different uses from Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) Essential oil. The Lavandin variety can still be 100% natural, but the problem occurs when someone advertises their ‘Lavandin’ as 100% Pure Lavender Essential Oil.

Different Types of Lavender

Here are some key differences between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandin varieties, so you can make informed decisions about your Lavender essential oil before purchasing:

  • The yield of ‘Lavandula angustifolia’ is less than half of the yield of the Lavandin variety, so buying something with Lavandin essential oil will be noticeably less expensive than buying Lavandula angustifolia essential oil. Since the essential oil industry is so new, it is tough to find a company selling 100% Pure Lavender Essential Oil at affordable prices, and will require a little more research than just opening up your Amazon accounts.
  • Although the two lavender plants types have similar aromas, they have a vastly different chemical composition. This might not matter much to you if you are just looking at Lavender for it’s aroma, but if you care about purity and are looking to purchase Lavender for its therapeutic benefits, it may be of interest to pay attention to GC-MS test results to notice for the chemical composition of the oils you are looking at before purchasing. If a company posts results for tests for every batch, check the quality of the oils from a few previous batches before purchasing your oils.
  • One key difference between the two lavender plants types, English Lavender essential oil and Lavandin essential oil, is that Lavandin oil contains a much higher percentage of camphor. Typically English Lavender essential oil contains between 0%-0.6% camphor, whereas Lavandin oil contains between 6%-10% camphor. Obviously this has an effect on the individual aromas of the oils, with the Lavandin oils giving off a stronger and more pungent scent, whereas English Lavender oil produces a more subtle, sweet, floral aroma. Lavandin oil has more of a strong, medicinal scent because of the camphor, whereas lavender is floral, sweet and more delicate.

However, this does not mean that oils from the Lavandin variety should be disregarded. The higher camphor content means that Lavandin oil can be more effective at clearing congestion, effective bug spray, and freshening rooms and deodorizing than English Lavender essential oil. It should not however be used on cuts or burns (which is one of the benefits of using ‘Lavandula angustifolia’) because of the high levels of camphor, which can further cause tissue scarring.

As legends say, the French scientist Gattesfosse burnt his hand in a chemical experiment a few decades back, and later accidentally dipped his hands in the oil of Lavandula angustifolia and was able to feel relief from his severe burns, leading to the invention of this sub-sect of science, Aromatherapy. Imagine if Gattesfosse had dipped his hand in a bucket full of Lavandin oil instead. The high camphor content would definitely cause more harm to his hand. And worse, perhaps Aromatherapy would never have been discovered. This is why it is so important to understand the science behind essential oils and educate ourselves on the subtle difference between the variety of crops available to us.

Which Lavender Essential Oil is Best?

At the risk of oversimplifying the situation, one might choose among the types of Lavender varieties in the following manner to figure out which lavender essential oil is best:

Lavandula angustifolia has the calming effect of the esters in the monoterpenol-ester synergy, making it the go-to oil for soothing and calming anxious or busy thoughts, soothing stress-related symptoms like headaches, occasional sleeplessness, restlessness, and agitation. Use it to soothe bug bites and ease discomforts in the body. Lavender essential oil may soothe burns and help rejuvenate the skin. As a general rule of thumb, lavender works to harmonize blends, is one of the safest types of lavender essential oils, and is unarguably one of the most important essential oils to have in a first aid kit.

Lavandula latifolia, or spike lavender, may be a good choice for respiratory support and to address head aches. It can also help support the musculoskeletal system and be used in case of muscle or joint discomfort. It should be used with care around children due to its 1,8 cineole and camphor content, and best not to be used at all with pregnant women due to its camphor content.

Each Lavandin oil variety will have its own balance of constituents, hence its own chemical and therapeutic profile. GC/MS quality report results are the most important factors to rely on when comparing the Lavandin varieties with ‘Lavandula Angustifolia’ to determine what the essential oil’s therapeutic properties and safety recommendations might be, and which might be right for you to use.

Hopefully this blog post will help you make the right choices when purchasing your essential oils. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us at contact@gurunanda.com. 

-Puneet "Guru" Nanda